Hello newer year

Let’s start this year with a delightful publication to set the scene for 2018:
On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit
by Gordon Pennycook, Jonathan A. Fugelsang et al in ‘Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 10, No. 6, November 2015, pp. 549–563’

Although bullshit is common in everyday life and has attracted attention from philosophers, its (critical or ingenuous) reception has not, to our knowledge, been subject to empirical investigation. Here we focus on pseudo-profound bullshit, which consists of seemingly impressive assertions that are presented as true and meaningful but are actually vacuous. We presented participants with bullshit statements consisting of buzzwords randomly organized into statements with syntactic structure but no discernible meaning (e.g., “Wholeness quiets infinite phenomena”). Across multiple studies, the propensity to judge bullshit statements as profound was associated with a variety of conceptually relevant variables (e.g., intuitive cognitive style, supernatural belief). Parallel associations were less evident among profundity judgments for more conventionally profound (e.g., “A wet person does not fear the rain”) or mundane (e.g., “Newborn babies require constant attention”) statements. These results support the idea that some people are more receptive to this type of bullshit and that detecting it is not merely a matter of indiscriminate skepticism but rather a discernment of deceptive vagueness in otherwise impressive sounding claims. Our results also suggest that a bias toward accepting statements as true may be an important component of pseudo-profound bullshit receptivity.

I’m doing alright

End of year situations tend to make one reflect… so this morning I sat with my coffee and spent some time pondering over the past year, and came to the conclusion that, all in all, I am living my best life. I am doing alright. I was helpful to people, and tried not to hurt anyone. I looked after myself and others. I am able to forgive myself, and hold no grudges against anyone.

I am doing alright. Thanks world.


I reckon among the things high up on my list for next year will be the need to get more involved with the messy parts at work… so far I tried to stay clear, but as I am now close to leaving I should instead put some elbows in… it would be in the interest of more than one peep, that’s what I figured by now… so note-to-self,  go back and just do what you think is good…

Take risks

8 strategies to up self-confidence (and this is more a post to myself than anything):

1. Ask, ‘what would I say to a loved one in this situation?’ We’re kinder and more compassionate to others than to ourselves. Also, we’re not so quick to mull or analyse all that’s going wrong when helping someone else. Questioning entails mindful awareness to a problem. Too often, people lacking in self-confidence brush off a mistake or a lost opportunity as a character flaw, not as a chance to gain insight into a problem area.

2. Expand your circle of potential. Visualisation is a powerful technique of creating an image of yourself as you want to be, within your mind. When we struggle with low self-confidence, we have a poor perception of ourselves that is often inaccurate. When visualising a positive version of yourself, several areas converge helping you to: a) activate your creative subconscious which increases creativity, b) program your brain to recognise internal and external resources c) manifest the law of attraction, thereby placing yourself in the purview of positive people and opportunities, and d) increase your motivation to take the necessary actions to achieve your dreams.

3. Notice what you’re doing well. This step loosely fits into the “think positive” mantra, and with good reason. When you’re lacking confidence, it’s easy to focus on mistakes. The trick is to catch yourself before a bad mood threatens your day. For example, a while back I noticed when I awoke my mind quickly scanned all the things I didn’t accomplish from the day before. Once I caught myself, I reframed with, “what am I doing right?” This was a game changer in starting my day on a healthy note.

4. Give negative thoughts the boot. This ties into the tip above, as unhealthy thoughts pervade an insecure mindset. A hallmark of an emotionally healthy mind is vigilance around what enters your sacred mental real estate.

5. Get curious about your inner world. When you become self-aware about your thoughts and how they impact your feelings and behaviors, you’ve set the stage for reducing insecurities. “Hmm, that was an interesting reaction…wonder if there’s something deeper I’m avoiding.” Or, “if I was to let go of my need to control the outcome of situations, how would that feel?”

6. Take risks. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Regret is a huge theme in psychotherapy, especially as we age and our lives become more narrow. Bottom line: You will never reach your potential if you don’t execute a plan.

7. Act “as if” you possess the confidence your aspire to have. When life doesn’t go well it can seem like there’s no rhyme or reason. This is a good time to behave “as if” you’re where you want to be. It’s getting up early, showering, putting on nice clothes and going out in public and networking even though you don’t have a job. Building self-confidence means taking action despite your fear of failure. If things work out, then you now know you’re more confident than you think. If things don’t work out, you now know the experience didn’t break you. Either way, you’re better off.

8. Get organised. Have a system in place for problem-solving. If career advancement is hindered because you didn’t pass an important test, set daily goals for learning the material. Every problem has a solution, and a disorganised mind is the enemy of momentum. Study like there’s no tomorrow and adjust your priorities, accordingly.

The good news is research reveals that self-confidence isn’t fixed at a certain age, but tends to increase with self-awareness and life experience. You are as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fears; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

The Inner Life of Rebellion

My favourite podcast, a guaranteed pick-me up at all times:


The history of rebellion is rife with excess and burnout. But new generations have a distinctive commitment to be reflective and activist at once, to be in service as much as in charge, and to learn from history while bringing very new realities into being. Quaker wise man Parker Palmer and journalist and entrepreneur Courtney Martin come together for a cross-generational conversation about the inner work of sustainable, resilient social change.

Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin — The Inner Life of Rebellion

Timing and blisters

Depression has a lot to do with a distortion of time, and an inability to deal with certain things at one time, and having to deal with all of them at once the next…

And as you push things and decisions and just keep going, you give yourself a blister on the wrong spot… and that never goes entirely away again… I reckon that is aging for you in a nutshell…


I think, while social media is all nice and good, it has the potential to lure you into a false sense of connectedness. On the most basic human level, social interaction is much more than exchanging information, words. It is a person’s body language, their presence, that nourishes the soul. You can’t get that through a screen. But as you wilt away, starving yourself from that oldest of human needs, you don’t know why you get sick… you only know that something’s not right… and if you’re a sucker for that, you will most likely blame yourself for being unwell, for not performing.



I’m doing a course, and so did a colleague, he since left cos didn’t like the course, but he now doesn’t talk to me anymore. Not sure why.

But: I do think this colleague thinks I’m a feminist. And I am not. But his attitude makes me one.

That’s a shit situation to be in, and my dilemma.

I’d much much rather prefer to fight anyone else’s fight, cos I’m a pathetic feminist.



I think my impostor syndrome stems from the fact that I feel into an application much more than I understand to the atomic details why it behaves in a certain way. So I work in a field where I am surrounded by heavy weight subject matter experts, and feel like I’m the can-do-but-dont-ask-me-why kinda dude… friendly, but still…
This is what my colleague wrote to me last night:

Hi Iris,
Thank you for your nice message…
Sometimes it feels like life is happening to me as opposed to me making it happen…

I think that is where a classic expert and I differ the most… I admire her strength, rigour and ambition to make things happen, because without such drive we will never get anywhere… I on the other hand am very much a looking forward to seeing where life takes me kinda person… this might sound lame, even I myself may say so, still, it is as much as I can and want to give on “bandwidth variation” for the living spectrum, my ability and willingness to cope with highs and lows inflicted from the outside world… I think in short that means I am only a limited risk taker… and as broken hearts and unmet expectations are painful and hard to mend, I avoid them, and always give just enough love and have never too high hopes, because I need the rest of my energy to myself…

Her approach to life and databases is much more exhausting than mine… it appears the frustration is also deeper… but so might as well be the sweet high of success…


Addendum 3-Jan-2018


Cohen continues on a more serious note:

“Judging me hardly begins to describe the operation. It was a sense of invalidation and irrelevance that I felt was authentic, because those feelings have always circulated around my psyche: Where do you get to stand up and speak? For what and whom? And how deep is your experience? How significant is anything you have to say? . . . I think it really invited me to deepen my practice. Dig in deeper, whatever it was, take it more seriously.”

Cohen’s response illustrates exactly why imposter syndrome has been considered a predictor of success, even greatness.“People with imposter syndrome tend to be perfectionists, which means they’re likely to spend hours working overtime to make sure they excel in every single field. So if you do suffer from imposter syndrome, chances are you’re doing a pretty good job.”


Notes to self after presenting on the fly

  • research the key terms for pre-laden-ness
  • research the jurors
  • always assume no one knows anything
  • taking the lead might be good for nerves, but might not be the best strategy (there’s to learn from others on the fly)
  • allow to waste time on selfpromotion
  • rethink your jokes ; )
  • allow for economic considerations, as faint as they might be
  • state your true conclusion, even tho it might be unpopular
  • play through a worst case scenario, and work back from that

(also: don’t despair over the fact that there’s an opposite to tunnel vision)

What to know more on How to Talk with Impact?
Try these 12 pieces of advice from Courtney Martin

Ways of knowing

It is often not clear why suddenly a coin drops… it’s a plethora of facets that lead to knowing… trusting your instincts is an acquired skill that helps greatly to navigate through life… but it takes listening, and patience, both of which have become rare concepts these days…

About subliminal propensities

Life is more interesting when it’s led by the heart. It promises more drama, more bloodshed, more banter. Life led by logic and reason on the other hand already sounds boring and uneventful only by the very composition.

So here we are, pathetically drawn to drama and sensationalism, even though we’re way past a point where we could still afford this lifestyle. And yet we don’t stop.

(in other news, and completely unrelated, a thought just manifesting as I type: public transport, in complete silence, is like group meditation… this silent train carriage is blessed with mindfulness)

Back to our problem of frantic avoidance of the unbearable risk of boredom. Just think the unthinkable – imagine there was no sensational news, just reoccurring bau, business as usual. Where people stick to plans, businesses keep their promises, governments improve on procedures and outcomes. Just imagine a world like that.

Where is the crossing on the road of life where we have to turn to get there? Where??

Das permanente Appellieren der Medien an die niedrigsten Instinkte, the permanent focus of the media on the lowest of instincts, that is what makes this world so sad, so bad, and mad. It’s like Goethe’s Zauberlehrling und die Geister die ich rief…



Twitter 2.0

My hiatus from social media starts to carry fruit. I have recently looked at a tree for a substantial amount of time, without telling anyone about it.

But the first days were a bit brutal. I felt very isolated from a world that I had grown accustomed to, basically the world as I knew it over the past 5 years. But change is good. Anything that will get you out of your comfy zone is good. And if no-one else rattles your cage you have to do it yourself.  I have since landed back on my feet, with the realisation that it’s OK if you can’t tell the world your every single thought every very moment.

Still, I miss a lot the interaction with the tweeps that have become truly dear to me. As odd as that might sound, because I hardly really know any of them. Or do I?

I think what I need to do is understand Twitter better itself, so I can go back in. As that world is what I am questioning the most at the moment. With an account of hundreds or thousands of tweeps, why do only ever the same twenty odd tweeps converse, and what the heck are all the others doing? Just reading in? Is everyone just a free content producer? To be sussed out by some marketing dude claiming to raise sales with their sekrit gruen? And wotabout the masters of SocMed, those who kinda create a connection, but in the end only to portray themselves in a better light, to make them look pro.

Not finished thinking…


This month it’s been 5 years that I was on Twitter. Twitter is the only social platform I frequent; I find it already hard to keep one running while still meeting actual real people in the other actual real life.

People spend a lot of time looking at their phones. Even the word phone has entirely morphed from one thing to something completely different now.

I digress.

I’m taking a break from Twitter. And it feels kinda odd. While I’ve already got more done in just one day than I probably would’ve in three, I miss the voices and the laughter. (no I’m not hearing voices)  I was never one for herd mentality. Twitter lets you forget that not all is good only because the loudest says so. The integrity of a writer is not manifested in the amount of followers they have.  In this short-attention-span world of ours, every single bit of critical thinking is important for sanity and goodness to prevail (hopefully, after all, fingers crossed), so don’t let anyone shout you out.

Anyway, end of rant. Nothing really matters. As you were.

Also, today turned out bearable after all.