Closing the Gap: Financial Hardship and Poor Mental Health in Higher education

A talk given for the Open University's Special Interest Group on Inclusivity You’ll learn a lot if you ask someone why a problem is important. The first thing you’ll learn if you ask the question to many different people is that it often feels like they’re answering completely different questions. Understanding why that happens is … Continue reading Closing the Gap: Financial Hardship and Poor Mental Health in Higher education

“I don’t know”: Intellectual Humility and power imbalance when Dunning Kruger meets the Prisoner’s Dilemma

I am drawn to clickbait articles about self-improvement. Especially ones about being smart (their appeal is a suitable reminder to myself that I'm not, in case my head swells too much). This morning I was reading one such. It had all the classics of a genre which tends to be populated by smart-ish people trying … Continue reading “I don’t know”: Intellectual Humility and power imbalance when Dunning Kruger meets the Prisoner’s Dilemma

One Thing Relentlessly: Why Humans Always Fail

There's a line in Citizen Kane, "It's no trick to make a lot of money if all you want is to make a lot of money" that captures something fundamental about being human. Any goal is very much easier to achieve it's your only goal...But being human almost always means having more than one goal. … Continue reading One Thing Relentlessly: Why Humans Always Fail

Art, Extreme Sports and the Sunk Cost Fallacy

figure wearing a hydration vest standing in front of a large stone

Many of us have heard of the sunk cost fallacy. Many of those of us who have heard of it know that it describes something bad. So why do so many of us still talk as though we either haven't heard of it, or don't realise it's bad (hint: the answer is, itself, an example … Continue reading Art, Extreme Sports and the Sunk Cost Fallacy

You’ve Found a Niche: What Now?

Finding a niche is the key to maximising your impact in the world. But the fact it is a niche is also the biggest barrier to creating that impact. It may be that, as Peter Thiel says about start-ups in Zero to One, fields that would make the world better are not distributed in the … Continue reading You’ve Found a Niche: What Now?

Misunderstanding Excellence: relating the parts to the whole

a plastic model of a dugong and packs of playing cards on a large wooden meeting table

My day job is with the University of Oxford, working in the administration. Two recent developments have shone a light on what in retrospect, is a fundamental truth about organisations that should have been obvious to me long since: The excellence of an organisation is not dependent on the excellence of its parts. There are … Continue reading Misunderstanding Excellence: relating the parts to the whole