Psychology & Sociology

never buy bitcoin before you read this

Why You Should Never Buy Bitcoin

You might be watching Bitcoin price charts with interest or even with excitement. Perhaps, you already bought it. Or you are seriously considering it. Just wait a second.

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The days of greatness

I wish creativity was less painful. I wish I was just waking up in the morning with a good mood and had great, groundbreaking ideas all day long. But unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that — to me, creativity is the other side of the same coin as Weltschmetrz.

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The only justice in the world

In general, this world is not just. Some people are born more wealthy than others. Some people are born prettier than others. Some people naturally have more energy than others. Some people learn faster than others. Some people, for some reason, receive more recognition and appreciation for their work than others. But, there is one thing just for all.

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The mice heaven

When I see Elon’s efforts to colonize Mars and help the humanity in becoming a powerful, multi-planet civilization, I smile. I smile because I know that before we are technically able to colonize any other planet, it might be that in a hundred years, there will be no humanity left. And this is all due to convenience.

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The balance theory

Have you ever wondered why whenever two of your friends argue, you immediately get that itchy feeling that this will end up badly for you in one way or another? Or why, once you have just one conflict in a group of people, it starts propagating across the group like a virus? There is a forgotten theory in psychology that explains all this.

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What motivates you?

We are all home-grown psychologists. We have all heard about Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, Zimbardo’s Stanford experiment, or Milgram’s experiment. But, have you ever heard about Alfred Adler? Well, maybe you should.

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Between words

I recently found a list of untranslatable words that appear in many languages around the world. It’s a very interesting list to go through, just to realize that there so many inconveniences or feelings that we all experience but we (almost) never talk about them—just because our local language does not contain any expressions that could describe them.

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Hunting for the happy people

This fall I was travelling quite a lot. I was attending small evening conferences, local meetups here in the Netherlands, but I was also traveling abroad to attend international events - as a guest, as a speaker, or even as an organizer. And, I obviously met a lot of new people on the way. When traveling, I realised that there is some gradual, global change in the society which is really worrying. Namely, if you took a conscious decision to be a happy person, you are in a serious trouble.

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What I learned past few months…

…about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs. In this time I was attending quite a few conferences in industry, I was informally involved in some projects, and I made many entrepreneurial friends. And, I was observing. As for a researcher who spent her whole youth solving integral equations, this is quite a new and exotic experience. I am on the learning curve now, in this fascinating new world. Hereby, I would like to list a few stereotypes I had about entrepreneurs, and how I feel about these stereotypes right now.

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Mythology

This week was interesting; I just realised that even though we live in 21st century, virtually anything can be explained by science and most youngsters are atheists, people still crave for mythological, mystical, superhuman heroes. Maybe even more than ever.

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Respect

According to a common opinion, former researchers tend to function really well as entrepreneurs. This is true. However, there is one useful quality missing in academia - which turned out to be very painful to me when I went a little bit more into the entrepreneurial direction. Namely, in academia, no one teaches us how to value our time.

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The Tragedy of Commons

The year of 2009 was groundbreaking, for at least two separate reasons. Firstly, on January 3rd of 2009, the genesis block of bitcoin was mined. Secondly, on October 12th of 2009, Elinor Claire "Lin" Ostrom has became the first woman awarded with a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, "for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons". The clue of this work is a phenomenon known in economy as the tragedy of commons. This phenomenon occurs when a group shares a resource, but at the same time, every individual acts on their own behalf, which is often against the common interest of the community. Can we spot the tragedy of commons in academia?

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A note on team work

Yesterday was a nostalgic day not only for me, but for every Polish person there is. The reason is because one of our little heroes, Tomasz Mackiewicz, is dying in Karakorum, and no one can really save him from death at this point. Climbing in Himalayas can seem like a distant and exotic concept, but one thing we can definitely learn from mountaineers is a team work.

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A villain is a hero of another side

As every PhD student at the end of the contract, I slowly get the idea that publishing papers is a minor problem in a researcher’s life. There other, more painful issues, such as the environment fractioning into ‘team Brown’, ‘team Green’ et cetera - especially in circles developing new methods for data analysis. Such friendships and antipathies that last for ages before you even found yourself in the community, and once you appear as a fresh person, you do not necessarily understand why you are actually expected to love Mr Brown and hate Mr Green.

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The one

Always there. Always patient, always understanding. Smart, talkative and entertaining. Looking good, every day the same. Not ageing at all.

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YouTube

So, when I found myself in the Silicon Valley, I realised that I had heard about almost all the new trends in business and industry, and almost all the influential figures in the Valley - from YouTube, not from press or television. This means what whatever is more or less popular in real life, becomes also popular online. Or maybe even the opposite?

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Uber

It seems to me that the whole Uber phenomenon is ephemeral as in a few years, cab drivers - especially here, in Sillicon Valley - will most probably be replaced by self-driving cars. However, it is interesting to observe this phenomenon from the psychological point of view.

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The American Dream

A visit to California is an eye-opener, as the Dutch job market could not be any more different from the American one. Namely, it is way easier to get funding in the Netherlands when your project or your company is eco-friendly, employee-friendly, and has a societal impact or just supports some minority. Therefore, high working culture and societal impact are an important part of any business pitch in the Netherlands. Here in the Silicon Valley on the other hand, the thinking is. ‘First make your customer happy, and then your workers will be happy too’.

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The power animal

Los Angeles has such a rich religious culture. From scientologists, through the Unitarian Universalists, to shamanistic associations. Every time you start talking to a new person, you can end up with a private lecture on a completely unexpected, spiritual topic in this place. This time, two folks whom I accidentally met at a cheap hostel at the Hollywood Boulevard, took me to some workshop on self-development. ‘Self-development in Hollywood might mean anything’ - I thought, and I was very curious about it.

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To be or not to be… a sociopath

I noticed that there are lots of similarities between the life of a scientist, and a life of a DJ. DJs spend their whole days on creating music in the studio, behind the closed doors, on their own, and then go out to the crowd to play the new pieces during huge events. Once you are successful, everyone expects that you will only produce high-class hit songs from now on. Can you then still be faithful to the rules you vowed to yourself at the start of your scientific career in such a situation? Once you go under more and more pressure, you just need to develop that thick skin in order not to get overwhelmed and depressed.

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Competitiveness

What does the competitiveness come from? It is not a very prominent feature of the Dutch society - this society is more about equity and cooperation. No wonder: once you look at the educational program at the Dutch primary schools, the first class they ever have is ‘working in teams’. Which is very much in opposition to Polish schools where they were always telling us to compete.

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YouTube culture

Just a few years back, kids posting on youtube were just a niche phenomena, aggregating a small audience of hipsters willing to watch. Now, more and more of these - usually teenage - performers, became quite popular and a good few of them collected nation-wide audience. One reason to talk about youtube culture is that, interestingly, even though it is a completely unsupervised and nonhierarchical system, the mechanisms which evolved in this community are similar to science: similar issues and similar coping strategies.

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Going dark

I sometimes wonder what happens during the maturation process, when people slowly turn from fragile, troubled and empathic PhD students which they were in the past, into a bit psychopathic, emotionless and calculated bosses who push others to do things not necessarily optimal for their development. Just as everyone believes they will make better parents than their parents were, everyone also seems to believe that they will never copy their PIs’ mistakes.

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About the effects of living in a nice country

The doctors were truly confused; they knew about my previous records, but could not really explain what had happened to my body in the meantime. But I think I know why this is the case. Namely, my lifestyle, including too many activities per day, poor amounts of sleep, a tendency to drink coffee, coke and some booze, did not change since seven years ago. Only one thing substantially changed.

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The truth

The truth is such a relative thing. I saw its relativity in the recent Netflix’ series of ‘Making a murderer’, a documentary about Steven Avery. This poor guy was convicted twice, firstly as an innocent person, and then, secondly, probably as an innocent guy as well. When you watch the process, you cannot really believe that such a course of events, including clear fabrication of evidence and bias of the judges, still happen in twenty first century.

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Democratic or Republican

Tomorrow, the parliament elections will be held in Poland. Therefore, today, on this particular day, I need to keep calm about my choices and I cannot speak about it to public. However, I think I am still allowed to talk a little bit about my general political preferences.

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