xiv – … because it’s the people in the middle who do the actual work in the world.
44 – There are five known fundamental tastes in the human palate: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami.
45 – The taste of Heinz’s ketchup began at the tip of the tongue, where our receptors for sweet and salty first appear, moved along the sides, where sour notes seem the strongest, then hit the back of the tongue, for umami and bitter, in one long crescendo.
75 – we associate the willingness to risk great failure — and the ability to climb back from catastrophe–with courage. But in this we are wrong… There is more courage and heroism in defying the human impulse, in taking the purposeful and painful steps to prepare for the unimaginable.
88 – In his brilliant 1995 book, “Big Hair: A Journey into the Transformation of Self,” the Canadian anthropologist Grant McCracken argued for something he calls the “blondness periodic table,” in which blondes are divided into six categories: the “bombshell blonde” (Mae West, Marilyn Monroe), the “sunny blonde” (Doris Day, Goldie Hawn), the “brassy blonde” (Candice Bergen), the “dangerous blonde” (Sharon Stone), the “society blonde” (C.Z. Guest), and the “cool blonde” (Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly).
125 – (John Rock) “Heaven and Hell, Rome, all the Church stuff — that’s for the solace of the multitude”
134 – The key specialization of dogs, though, is that dogs pay attention to humans, when humans are doing something very human, which is sharing information about something that someone else might actually want. “Dogs aren’t smarter than chimps; they just have a different attitude toward people. “Dogs are really interested in humans,” Hare went on. ” Interested to the point of obsession. To a dog, you are a giant walking tennis ball.”
206 – Gilbert Welch, a medical-outcomes expert at Dartmouth, has pointed out that, given current breast-cancer mortality rates, nine out of every thousand sixty-year-old women will die of breast cancer in the next ten years. If every one of those women had a mammogram every year, that number would fall to six. The radiologist seeing those thousand women, in other words, would read ten thousand X-rays over a decade in order to save three lives–and that’s using the most generous possible estimate of mammography’s effectiveness.
288 – risk homeostasis… which has been laid out brilliantly by the Canadian psychologist Gerald Wilde in his book “Target Risk,” is quite simple: under certain circumstances, changes that appear to make a system or an organization safer in fact don’t. Why? Because human beings have a seemingly fundamental tendency to compensate for lower risks in one area by taking greater risks in another.
289 – Why are more pedestrians killed crossing the street at marked crosswalks than at unmarked crosswalks? Because they compensate for the “safe” environment of a marked crossing by being less viligant about oncoming traffic. Why did the introduction of childproof lids on medicine bottles lead, according to one study, to a substantial increase in fatal child poisonings? Because adults became less careful in keeping pill bottles out of the reach of children.
351 – Astrologers and psychics have known these tricks for years. The magician Ian Rowland, in his classic “The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading,” itemizes them one by one, in what could easily serve as a manual for the beginner profiler. First is the Rainbow Ruse—the “statement which credits the client with both a personality trait and its opposite.” (“I would say that on the whole you can be rather a quiet, self effacing type, but when the circumstances are right, you can be quite the life and soul of the party if the mood strikes you.”) The Jacques Statement, named for the character in “As You Like It” who gives the Seven Ages of Man speech, tailors the prediction to the age of the subject. To someone in his late thirties or early forties, for example, the psychic says, “If you are honest about it, you often get to wondering what happened to all those dreams you had when you were younger.” There is the Barnum Statement, the assertion so general that anyone would agree, and the Fuzzy Fact, the seemingly factual statement couched in a way that “leaves plenty of scope to be developed into something more specific.” (“I can see a connection with Europe, possibly Britain, or it could be the warmer, Mediterranean part?”) And that’s only the start: there is the Greener Grass technique, the Diverted Question, the Russian Doll, Sugar Lumps, not to mention Forking and the Good Chance Guess—all of which, when put together in skillful combination, can convince even the most skeptical observer that he or she is in the presence of real insight.
354 – … if you make a great number of predictions, the ones that were wrong will soon be forgotten, and the ones that turn out to be true will make you famous.
374 – It never occurred to them that, if everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing.
385 – Most of the time, we assume that people display the same character traits in different situations. We habitually underestimate the large role that context plays in people’s behavior… Psychologists call this tendency – to fixate on supposedly stable character traits and overlook the influence of context – the Fundamental Attribution Error…
396 – As the legal scholar Frederick Schauer has observed, “painting with a broad brush” is “an often inevitable and frequently desirable dimension of our decision-making lives.”