Skip to main content
Move the World.

Welcome back to This Week in Ideas, where we share the most popular stories from Freethink’s Slack channel. Last week, we talked about failure’s role in entrepreneurship. This week we’re talking about a little bit of everything, starting with some fun findings from the world of behavioral psychology (helpful if you’ve got New Year’s resolutions to keep!).

How to create good habits in three steps: “ According to psychologist B.J. Fogg, doing something you don’t enjoy and subsequently failing to make it habitual is actually more detrimental to a mission for change than doing nothing at all. To create a real lifelong habit, the focus should be on training your brain to succeed at a small adjustments, then gaining confidence from that success.”

The case against empathy: “Empathy, however well-intentioned, is a poor guide for moral reasoning. Worse, to the extent that individuals and societies make ethical judgments on the basis of empathy, they become less sensitive to the suffering of greater and greater numbers of people.”

15 Years of Moneyball:  In 2003, Michael Lewis' seminal work Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game was published.  It told the story of the 2002 Oakland A's, a team which didn't have the revenue streams of many of its competitors. Led by General Manager Billy Beane, The A’s instead developed an analytical methodology which attempted to find overlooked players and which would allow them to compete with their wealthier competitors. The impact of ‘Moneyball’ is now a given. However the question remains, almost 15 years later, as to who really has been playing Moneyball.”

Moneyballsbn

Mystery fungus sparks NIH crisis: “The National Institutes of Health reported last month that a new cell therapy had completely reversed metastatic colon cancer in a patient and could help tens of thousands more — the kind of dramatic breakthrough that has made NIH the crown jewel of government-run medical research. Behind the scenes, the discovery of fungus growing in two medicine vials in an NIH hospital pharmacy 19 months ago has ballooned into a management crisis, stalling medical trials for prostate cancer, melanoma, and gastrointestinal and chest tumors.”

You’ve probably never heard of this creepy genealogy site. But it knows a lot about you: “Profiles on FamilyTreeNow include the age, birth month, family members, addresses and phone numbers for individuals in their system, if they have them,” reports WaPo. “It also guesses at their “possible associates,” all on a publicly accessible, permalink-able page. It’s possible to opt out, but it’s not clear whether doing so actually removes you from their records or (more likely) simply hides your record so it’s no longer accessible to the public.”

More About

Interview
This Child Psychiatrist Is Saving Refugees From Trauma
This Child Psychiatrist Is Saving Refugees From Trauma
Watch Now
Interview
This Child Psychiatrist Is Saving Refugees From Trauma

With the right intervention at the right time, a trauma can be recorded in the memory as non-traumatic and in…

Watch Now

Essam Daod is a child psychiatrist using a groundbreaking approach to help Syrian refugee children handle their trauma effectively by narrowing in on the key moment that can prevent PTSD in children.

The world news over the past few years has been filled with coverage of the Syrian civil war. Caught in the crossfire of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad and various rebel and terror groups, millions of Syrians have fled…

Thinking Differently
Angels of Debt
Angels of Debt
Watch Now
Thinking Differently
Angels of Debt

These ex-bill collectors got John Oliver's attention and started a movement. They're buying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of…

Watch Now

The average American is one medical accident away from being destroyed financially. These bill collectors woke up to the brutality of their industry - and are using their insider knowledge to save strangers from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

Jerry Ashton was a debt collector working on Wall Street when the Occupy Wall Street movement started. He became interested, and eventually partnered with them and his friend Craig…

Thinking Differently
The Joy of Being Wrong
The Joy of Being Wrong
Watch Now
Thinking Differently
The Joy of Being Wrong

Can practicing intellectual humility make us smarter and happier? Science says yes.

Watch Now

Arguments on social media are notorious. People often naturally form an echo chamber of people with similar beliefs, and when people outside it start arguments, the discussion often becomes antagonistic. Is there a better way? Science suggests that a good starting point is by practicing intellectual humility. By admitting the possibility that we ourselves could be wrong, we’re able to better evaluate arguments and construct more robust belief systems. Studies…

Stand Together
Sometimes It Really Does Take a Village
Sometimes It Really Does Take a Village
Stand Together
Sometimes It Really Does Take a Village

Building a new, community-based foster care system

By Brandon Stewart

Building a new, community-based foster care system

#fixingjustice - Harm Reduction
Why Drugs Are Hurting More People Than Ever – And What to Do About It
Why Drugs Are Hurting More People Than Ever – And What to Do About It
#fixingjustice - Harm Reduction
Why Drugs Are Hurting More People Than Ever – And What to Do About It

Is the solution to dangerous drugs... making them safer?

By Dan Bier

Is the solution to dangerous drugs... making them safer?

The Badass Army Fighting Revenge Porn
The Badass Army Fighting Revenge Porn
Watch Now
The Badass Army Fighting Revenge Porn

They’re tracking down people who post revenge porn - and getting justice.

Watch Now

Sharing nude selfies with partners is increasingly common. Too often, though, these images end up posted online without consent.

BADASS Army is an army of volunteers getting these images taken down and punishing people who upload them without consent—whether they’re exes posting revenge porn, a hacker releasing them, or someone stealing them through other means.

What is Revenge Porn?

Revenge porn, also known as nonconsensual image sharing (NCIS), is a…

Dispatches
Why We Need a Universal Flu Vaccine
Why We Need a Universal Flu Vaccine
Dispatches
Why We Need a Universal Flu Vaccine

Two scientists explain why the flu is still such a problem, a century after it killed 50 million people —…

By Ian Setliff and Amyn Murji

Two scientists explain why the flu is still such a problem, a century after it killed 50 million people — and what we can do stop it.

Crossing the Divide
Americans Are Divided. These People Are Doing Something About It.
Americans Are Divided. These People Are Doing Something About It.
Crossing the Divide
Americans Are Divided. These People Are Doing Something About It.

Amidst our most intense religious, political, and cultural conflicts, there are people around the country who are working tirelessly to…

By Dan Hayes

Amidst our most intense religious, political, and cultural conflicts, there are people around the country who are working tirelessly to forge connections