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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.”

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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.”

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Thinking Differently
Angels of Debt
Angels of Debt
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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 strangers' medical debt and erasing it.
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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…

Clean Decisions
Hope After Prison
Hope After Prison
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Clean Decisions
Hope After Prison
This former inmate is cleaning up his city and helping other ex-cons turn their lives around.
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When Will Aliva got out of prison, he’d paid his debt to society - but that didn’t help him pay his bills. Like many ex-cons, he struggled to find companies that would take a chance on hiring him. Too often, this roadblock results in ex-cons winding up back behind bars as they turn to old illegal activities to make ends meet. He decided to tackle the problem head on and…

Culture of Change
Drone Racers Are A Thing and They’re Amazing
Drone Racers Are A Thing and They’re Amazing
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Culture of Change
Drone Racers Are A Thing and They’re Amazing
Blistering speed. Big money. 11-year-old world champions. Is drone racing the next big sport?
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Yes, drone racers are a thing and they’re amazing. The Drone Racing League has gone from a dream to ESPN in a few short years. We met world champion Paul Nurkalla, aka Nurk FPV, and got an inside look at how the DRL is striving to be the next big sports league. Somewhere between esports, NASCAR and Star Wars sits drone racing, also known as FPV racing. It’s a breathtakingly…

Inspiring
Veterans to the Rescue
Veterans to the Rescue
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Inspiring
Veterans to the Rescue
On the worst day of their lives, these veterans came to help.
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Team Rubicon is a group of military veterans who volunteer to respond to natural disasters. They’re helping disaster victims - and helping each other heal. Many people join the military to serve their country, and still feel called to serve after they get out. In some cases, they may have experienced trauma or have PTSD from their time in the armed forces. Enter Team Rubicon, the volunteer organization that’s responded…

Education
This Fearless Principal Used UFC & Skateboards to Save a Failing School
This Fearless Principal Used UFC & Skateboards to Save a Failing School
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Education
This Fearless Principal Used UFC & Skateboards to Save a Failing School
How one relentless, unconventional principal rallied an underdog school.
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Hamish Brewer, the unconventional principal of Fred Lynn Middle School, went viral and won praise for his work turning the school around. But can he rally the school to the next huge milestone - regaining accreditation? Since moving from New Zealand to the United States, tattooed, skateboarding principal Hamish Brewer has helped inspire teachers and students at lower-income schools to smash people’s expectations. After his success at Occoquan Elementary,…

Prison Reform
Helping Moms in Prison Read to Their Kids
Helping Moms in Prison Read to Their Kids
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Prison Reform
Helping Moms in Prison Read to Their Kids
Meet the people helping incarcerated mothers read to their kids.
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Having a parent in prison is incredibly hard for families. The Women’s Storybook Project is trying to relieve some of the stress on kids and moms alike by simply enabling mothers to read to their kids. Volunteers in central and east Texas visit women’s prisons once a month to record the mothers reading stories, then bring the recordings - along with the books - to the families. Founded in 2003,…

Rise
5 Fascinating Ways Humans are Adapting to Cities
5 Fascinating Ways Humans are Adapting to Cities
Rise
5 Fascinating Ways Humans are Adapting to Cities
There’s a global transformation happening - millions of people are migrating to cities from the countryside.
By Michael O'Shea

There’s a global transformation happening - millions of people are migrating to cities from the countryside.

On The Cusp
This Week in Ideas: Saying Goodbye to Lab Rats and Replacing Bees with Drones
This Week in Ideas: Saying Goodbye to Lab Rats and Replacing Bees with Drones
On The Cusp
This Week in Ideas: Saying Goodbye to Lab Rats and Replacing Bees with Drones
Breakthrough could mean the end of test animals, violent crime nearly cut in half, and drones that pollinate flowers.
By Michael O'Shea

Breakthrough could mean the end of test animals, violent crime nearly cut in half, and drones that pollinate flowers.