Category Archives: book

Nuture Shock — inverse power of praise

I’ve just started reading Nuture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. The opening of the book was disturbing – children who were praised heavily did poorly. Non-specific praise creates an expectation to succeed. Or rather on expectation to not fail. The expectation not to fail is not the same thing as the expectation to succeed. To maintain the perception “of being smart”, those kids that were overpraised deliberately chose task that were below their abilities and collapsed in the face of failure. Kids that were specifically praised and praised for effort (a controllable factor) rather than intelligence (an uncontrollable factor), were more motivated to meet challenges.

There seems to a deep mine of interesting research in this book. But, this first bit was such a revelation that I had to write a quick note.


Parallels between Rwanda and Sri Lanka

I have started reading ImaculĂ©e Illibagiza’s book “Left to Tell”. It is her personal account of the Rwandan Tutsi massacre. There were some erie parallels between the situation in Rwanda and Sri Lanka. The British in Sri Lanka placed to minority Tamils into positions of power. The Belgians did likewise to the minority Tutsis. The result was discontent and resentment, a short term split of the people and over the long term the development of hatreds and resentments.

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Blink – book by Malcom Gladwell

“Blink: thinking without thinking”, describes how experts make instantaneous decisions using appropriate contextual information which may be consciously or unconsciously realized .

An ancient greek statue, a Kouros was offered to a New York Museum. Extensive scientific analysis concluded that this Kouros was genuine. But the expert reaction was that this statue was somehow wrong. It was purchased anyway.Later at a confernence in Greece, experts began to cataglog the subtle deficiencies in the statue. Further investigations revealed the insidious fabrication in the authenticating letters. .

Experts use “thin-slicing” – taking the appropriate contextual clues to predict outcome – one researcher can predict with 90% accuracy which couples will stay together with a small video clip of the conversation (about money, or a pet, or something with a bit of controversy) by examining microexpressions, and in particular to the expression of contempt.

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