Guns and the Self-Interest of Politicians

The recent defeat of all efforts at gun control is shocking, given the fact that 90 percent of Americans supported the measures. How could that happen?

Capitalism: The Return of the Repressed

Talking about capitalism has not been easy. The word is freighted with ideological connotations of conflict. Merely using it raises the specter of Marxism, along with such concepts as “alienation” and “exploitation,” terms that reflect historic struggle.

Convenience and Ignorance

We don’t really need to know how things work in order to use them, do we? More and more, technology is hidden behind “user friendly” controls. But there is a growing case to be made for the dangers of our increasing technological ignorance – or incompetence.

Real Hearts, Real Minds

A prominent researcher in Positive Psychology now suggests that our “heart’s capacity for friendship . . . obeys the biological law of ‘use it or lose it.’ This has implications not just for our states of mind, but for our ways of communicating.

The Marx Brothers on Wall Street

“Gibberish,” concluded Floyd Norris, the financial reporter for The New York Times, summing up the “London Whale’s” description of his disastrous strategy to the JPMorgan group charged with overseeing investments.

The Papal "Awards"

The parallels between the papal conclave and the Oscars, Tonys, and Grammys are just too striking to miss, and not just because the Vatican ceremony came in the middle of our awards season.

The Purple Squirrel

There is an interesting story hidden within the news about the rise in employment.

Crime Without Punishment

It often looks as if banks are being punished for their infractions and crimes, but appearances can be deceptive.

Narcissism and Leadership

“Levels of narcissism are increasing among college students, says Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer at Stanford’s business school.” Worse, “business school students are more narcissistic than others.” But, surprisingly, he adds that may not be so bad. (See Businessweek, “Does It Matter If B-Schools Produce Narcissists?”)

Shoddy Credit Ratings

A recent report of the Federal Trade Commission called attention to disturbing practices in the credit rating business. Among the findings: “nearly 26 percent of consumers . . . found at least one potentially material mistake on at least one of the three credit reports....

Money and Happiness

Studies have shown that money does not makes you happier -- beyond a certain point.

When is a Job Real?

It is a difficult fact to face but businesses do not want to be stuck with most of their employees.

Guns, Paranoia and Twinkies

Since the school shooting in Newtown Connecticut, the National Rifle Association reports gaining 100,000 new members. Gun sales have gone through the roof, many items are in short supply. Prices have doubled or tripled. What’s going on?

What "Big Data" Can't Do

Sometimes called “the internet of things,” Big Data has arrived. It will “replace ideas, paradigms, organizations and ways of thinking about the world,” said Professor Brynjolfsson, Director of M.I.T.’s Center for Digital Business at a recent conference. Well, maybe. But it’s worth thinking about what it might not be able to do.


Economists like facts, facts with numbers. And they like to link those facts with human behavior, specifically choices we make about spending, saving and investing. For many years, they had a favorite theory of motivation....

The Age of Apocalypse

We are surrounded by visions of the end of time. The recent obsession about the “end” of the world when the Mayan calendar runs out is just one example of how our culture is fixated on apocalypse. Why?

Debates Don't Matter Anymore

As we look back on November’s election, we hope to understand what produced the outcome: what issues persuaded most voters, what policies carried more weight, what candidates proved more trustworthy. But Sasha Issenberg, a reporter for Slate, has come out with a book that suggests none of those things mattered.

How Much Violence Can We Take?

A highly respected former sports reporter turned editorial commentator for The New York Times, Joe Nocera, just asked the question, “Should kids play football?” And the answer wasn’t clear.

Where Is the 'Human' in H.R. Now?

H.R. professionals used to work hard to maintain their usefulness and integrity. They understood that providing personal professional services is particularly complicated when the provider is a friend, a colleague or a boss. Nowadays, however, they are increasingly hard to find.


A recent study revealed that two-thirds of the American public believe we only use 10% of our brains, and that is just one of our most widely held “neuromyths,” according to a recent account in The Wall Street Journal. Ironically, “the teachers who knew the most about neuroscience believed the most myths.” (See, “Using Just 10% of Your Brain? Think Again.”)

Learning From Fragility

But Can We Make Ourselves Vulnerable? Five years ago, Nassim Nicholas Taleb captured our attention with his account of “black swans,” unpredictable events of extraordinary consequence. Within the year, the financial crisis both illustrated and vindicated his concept, and “black swans” entered our lexicon.

Voting: A Different Kind of Choice

It looked for a while that a flood of money would deeply skew the election, but that did not happen. The money was raised and spent, but to little effect. In a report on the electoral impact of the Super Pacs, The Daily Beast concluded: “No surprise, the conservative-leaning groups tended to be the biggest losers in our survey....

Trigger Happy Blame

Before we knew who was going to win the presidential election, Slate noted that he would end up being credited with the economic recovery now underway. That’s because our minds work by association, not logic.

America the "Best" and the "Biggest'

Our need to assert America’s superiority to other nations seems to be getting stronger as the case for it gets weaker and weaker. What’s going on?

Immortal Banks

The Daily Beast expressed the other day what most of us are coming to feel about the big banks: “You can slam them. You can sue them. You can even try to split them up. But the big banks won’t care.”

The Hive Hypothesis

A core concept in our culture is that we are individuals in competition with other individuals. Like chimpanzees roaming the veldt....

The Mystery of Consumer Confidence

What do consumers respond to?

What Happened to Truth?

Are we living in a "post-factual age?"

Good Robots, Bad Robots, and Us

Robots are getting better and better, and easier and easier to manage.

Crime Without Criminals?

More and more people are noting that when banks and other financial firms settle charges of fraud and pay out large sums of money as fines, it’s their customers who end up paying the bill. Worse, those actually responsible pay no penalty at all....