Monday, April 14, 2014

Interesting reading

I sometimes look at the website of the Harvard Business Review: whilst most of the contents don't interest me very much, there are often some interesting nuggets. I admit that I don't access this site as frequently as I should.

I have just read an interesting article entitled "How to Make Yourself Work When You Just Don’t Want To" by Heidi Grant Halvorson (that name seems familiar, which probably means that I read something interesting by her before). Net etiquette dictates that I not repost her article here; instead I will list the topics:

Reason #1: You are putting something off because you are afraid you will screw it up.
Solution: Adopt a “prevention focus.”

Reason #2: You are putting something off because you don’t “feel” like doing it.
Solution: Make like Spock and ignore your feelings. They’re getting in your way.

Reason #3: You are putting something off because it’s hard, boring, or otherwise unpleasant.
Solution: Use if-then planning.

I would like to think that I don't need reason #1 at all and reason #2 only rarely. Unfortunately, reason #3 appears now and then - there is someone with whom I have contact at work (he is not one of our employees) who is so unpleasant and so unable to accept what other people tell him (in other words, he thinks that he knows everything but in fact knows nothing) that I often procrastinate when I have to do something connected with him.

I have discovered that the same article appears on Dr Halvorson's own website; I am going to bookmark this site and start mining it.

The occupational psychologist gave me a book for Passover - "Brilliant blunders" by Mario Livio. The copy which she gave me was in Hebrew; although I started reading it without much difficulty, I was reading it slowly, and it only took me a few minutes before I looked for the book on the Internet. I took the opportunity to download a few more of his books. At first, I thought that the book was about mistakes that we make on a personal level - this would be suitable for the sort of material which I discuss with the OP and the book was missing its subtitle, "From Darwin to Einstein - Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe" - but when I started reading the original, I realised that it was about the history of science. I have completed the opening chapter about Darwin and am currently reading about Lord Kelvin. This is very interesting material which would have appealed to me at any time in the last forty years, but at the moment, I find very pertinent the criticisms of other scientists and how they affected the original ideas.

This idea of criticism and discussing several points of view about the same subject is of course connected to the doctorate. Several passages in "The craft of research" show different ways of presenting multiple points of view regarding a subject, so of course this material is very topical. Fortunately or otherwise, I have picked a topic which seems to be barely researched, so I don't have the need nor possibility of discussing ideas presented by previous researchers.

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