Are people innately altruistic?” is the wrong kind of question to ask. People are people, and they respond to incentives. They can nearly always be manipulated–for good or ill–if only you find the right levers. ~ Levitt & Dubner, “Superfreakonomics
But a mountain of recent evidence suggests that teacher skill has less influence on a student’s performance than a completely different set of factors: namely, how much kids have learned from their parents, how hard they work at home, and whether the parents have instilled an appetite for education.
It’s when you have no external cause to blame for your unhappiness that suicide becomes more likely. I’ve used this idea to explain why African-Americans have lower suicide rates, why blind people whose sight is restored often become suicidal, and why adolescent suicide rates often rise as their quality of life gets better.
creative destruction.” But humankind has a great capacity for finding technological solutions to seemingly intractable problems, and this will likely be the case for global warming. It isn’t that the problem isn’t potentially large. It’s just that human ingenuity—when given proper incentives—is bound to be larger. Even more encouraging, technological fixes are often far simpler,...