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The Rider, the Elephant, and Storytelling

Through the centuries, generations have passed on wisdoms about the mind. Recently cognitive and social psychology research has indicated that a lot of this wisdom was true. In his book The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt discusses ten such wisdoms and how they can be applied to our lives today. Haidt also discusses the evolution of certain parts of the mind. In this commentary, I will be focusing on the origins of the storyteller and how it advises and explains our intuitive gut reactions.

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Pepsi vs. Coke

            Since 1975, PepsiCo has been hosting the Pepsi Challenge, in which Pepsi representatives give two unmarked cups to participants. One of the cups contains Pepsi, while the other contains Coke. In this blind test, it was found that a greater number of participants preferred Pepsi over Coke. However, Coke repeatedly reaps greater revenue (La Monica, 2002). Why is it that despite preferring the taste of Pepsi, people tend to buy Coke? How is it that although both sodas are very similar in composition, they elicit strong behavioral preferences

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        As a child, I remember being comfortable in unfamiliar environments only when my mother was in sight. As soon as she would go to a different room, I would stop what I was doing and follow her. It is now widely known that a parent’s attention, comfort, and touch is very important for normal development. However, this was only possible by pioneering work in the area.

The first experiments in this field were done by Harry Harlow at the University of Wisconsin. Through initial observations, Harlow noticed that baby monkeys who were separated from their mothers were attached to a piece of cloth, which they carried around everywhere. He extrapolated this

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Can Meditation Change the Brain?


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The Tipping Point

“Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push – in just the right place – it can be tipped.” - Malcolm Gladwell

In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes how major changes in society happen rather unexpectedly and quickly. The main focus of the book is why some trends, including epidemics, fashion trends, ideas, messages, etc., manage to become very popular, and spread like viruses of infectious disease, while others do not. He gives examples, such as how Syphilis spread in Baltimore, how Paul Revere spread the initial message of the British attack and in turn initiated the American Revolution, and how television shows like Sesame Street were able to teach children how to read, to explain how he believes trends spread. Gladwell believes that when a certain trend reaches a “tipping point,” it instantly becomes popular. This tipping point is reached when three important conditions are met.

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