And avoiding the pitfalls of your newfound riches

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Congratulations: You’ve won the lottery!

Not the money kind, unfortunately. But you now have access to another resource that can unlock opportunities and power: information. You can enjoy a wealth of knowledge incomparable even to royalty in ages past. From the momentous to the mundane, if a question ever pops into your head, a pocket-sized device can give you at least one answer within seconds.

Yet winning the lottery can have its downsides; psychologists even study mental health problems associated with “sudden wealth syndrome.” (Mo’ money, mo’ problems.) People with unexpected riches may not know how to handle that new…


A way to comprehend your response to chronic stress

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Imagine a roaring tiger suddenly jumps out of a bush beside you. Instinctively, you either fight back or try to run away. But if the tiger continues to stalk you and will not leave you alone, you cannot keep running or resisting forever. Eventually, you curl up as small as you can, trying to survive by hiding.

Most of us will never confront a literal tiger, but other terrors still attack us, and we still respond in similar ways. An immediate threat activates our “fight or flight” system, focusing our attention and pushing us to take action. …


Why simply protecting the data you collect is not enough

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Information security began as more of a concern for businesses and governments. These organizations used computers and networks to manage information well before the rest of the public came online. But as the internet and smartphones began connecting people all over the world, new services appeared that processed more and more data from average consumers. This evolving landscape created new potential disruptions for people’s lives.

For example, AOL released a dataset of user searches in 2006 for research purposes. While the company removed account information, researchers were able to identify people based on their search terms alone. Similar breaches of…


And what that says about getting therapy

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How do you know the color of your eyes?

You may have seen them reflected in a mirror, and others have probably told you what they see. Such methods work well enough, but they all require something (or someone) outside of you. On your own, you would never know how your eyes appear to the outside world.

In many ways, you are an expert on your own body. In a sense, only you know how currently feel, and you can detect sensations invisible to everyone around you. But one of your most obvious distinguishing physical characteristics remains invisible to you…


How knowing your limits can help you overcome them

ESA/Hipparcos/J. de Bruijne, CC BY 4.0

Imagine for a moment that you are right about everything.

Suppose you did the research, thought carefully, and arrived at a model of the world around you which precisely matched reality in every way. How would that change the way you lived?

You would certainly not spend much time pondering questions about why something happened; every event would make sense. If people tried to argue against your explanations, you would always have an answer, since in the end, you would always be right.

But that also describes someone who is not always right: a dedicated conspiracy theorist.


How changing our focus can make us better allies

Fellow men, I trust the recent revelations of celebrities and executives preying on women have also left you appalled and outraged. You’re not the sort of guy who would harass or assault someone, right? You value the women in your life and want to protect them from such dangers. You want to reassure people that not all men are creeps or perverts — that you’re one of the good guys.

I get that instinct; I’ve felt it too. But thinking we’re Good Guys™ obscures the fact that all men still have the capacity to do evil. Many of those who…


What if how we talk about security became less aggressive?

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At many hacker conferences, you’re more likely to hear boasting about flashy new methods for “breaking” a niche technology than strategies for defending your data. You’ll also hear about the uninformed laziness of software developers, or the unpatchable stupidity of technology consumers. Amid pessimism bordering on nihilism, alcohol flows in abundance and sexual harassment becomes all too common.

We hackers have problems.

Thankfully, many people are working hard to address these and other issues in the information security community. …


Many Americans worry about the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. And they have reason for concern: most attacks in recent memory came at the hands of a few extremist groups who identify themselves as Muslim. We cannot ignore such data.

We also cannot allow emotions to prevent us from responding in accordance with our values. Terrorists by definition aim for fear; we need not give them such satisfaction.

We have a legacy of freedom to uphold as well. The US has long been known as a land of opportunity, where the law recognizes that everyone is created equal, presumes innocence…


Imagine the United States… when she’s twice as old.

The year is 2256. Look around… see how much has changed. Take in the incredible technology that now exists. Picture what life will be like for this future generation.

But what hasn’t changed? What stays the same as generations come and go? In fact, what has already remained over the past 240 years? What has made and will continue to make America truly “American”?

We certainly dress differently; even clothes from just one hundred years ago are essentially foreign. Entertainment has changed; television is still from the most recent century. Our…

Joey Tyson

An analytical romantic. I help people understand how they fit into the world.

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