Reuters blog archive

from The Great Debate:

What CEOs can learn from Sherlock Holmes

This essay is excerpted from Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, published this week by Viking.

How do we make sure we don’t fall victim to overly confident thinking, thinking that forgets to challenge itself on a regular basis? No method is foolproof. In fact, thinking it foolproof is the very thing that might trip us up.

Because our habits have become invisible to us, because we are no longer learning actively and it doesn’t seem nearly as hard to think well as it once did, we tend to forget how difficult the process once was. We take for granted the very thing we should value. We think we’ve got it all under control, that our habits are still mindful, our brains still active, our minds still constantly learning and challenged—especially since we’ve worked so hard to get there—but we have instead replaced one, albeit far better, set of habits with another. In doing so we run the risk of falling prey to those two great slayers of success: complacency and overconfidence.

These are powerful enemies indeed. Even to someone like Sherlock Holmes. Consider for a moment “The Yellow Face,” one of the rare cases where Holmes’s theories turn out to be completely wrong. In the story, a man named Grant Munro approaches Holmes to uncover the cause of his wife’s bizarre behavior. A cottage on the Munros’ property has recently acquired new tenants, and strange ones at that. Mr. Munro glimpses one of its occupants and remarks that “there was something unnatural and inhuman about the face.” The very sight of it chills him.

from Chrystia Freeland:

The Triumph of the Social Animal

BERLIN — Does fairness matter? As France prepares to elect a president this spring and the United States gets ready to elect a president in the autumn, that old philosopher’s chestnut is gaining tremendous real-time political relevance.

Economics, by contrast, hasn’t traditionally been much concerned with fairness. Instead, economists have based their analysis on “Homo economicus,” a model human being who is perfectly rational and perfectly guided by self-interest.

from Breakingviews:

Review: Of parasites, trust and morality

By Martin Langfield
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Without trust, society splits into warring tribes and parasites prosper. The financial crisis of 2008 is a powerful example of what can happen when individuals or small groups set their own gain above the common good. Meanwhile, the U.S. debt debate shows how political polarization can lead to potentially crippling paralysis.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

He’s making a list, and Czeching it twice…

Blog Guy, I need to tap your background in psychology. I can't get my husband to enjoy the Christmas holidays. When he sees festive decorations he just breaks down and sobs.

Hmmmm. Did he by any chance grow up in Prague?

Why yes, he spent his childhood there!

I thought as much. Have a look at these photos from Prague, where revelers dressed as Saint Nicholas and a devil approach small children on the street and demand to know if they've been good or bad. It's enough to warp any child for life.

from FaithWorld:

Optimistic? Attending services may be reason

Regular attendance at religious services is associated with a more optimistic outlook and a lesser inclination to be depressed, compared to those who do not attend services at all, according to a recently published study.

The study's findings supports previous research that religious participation can promote psychological and physical health -- and reduce mortality risks -- possibly by calming people in stressful times, creating meaningful social interactions and helping curtail bad habits.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

WARNING: avert your gaze!

Blog Guy, as the proprietor of a very visual blog, can you tell me the easiest way to get people to look at a photograph?

Sure. Just tell them not to. It's simple reverse psychology. For example, DO NOT look at the picture in this blog.

from The Great Debate UK:

We need risk-ready leaders

-Geoff Trickey is managing director of The Psychological Consultancy. The opinions expressed are his own.-

France is being rocked by its biggest financial scandal as Societe Generale is standing against 'rogue trader' Jerome Kerviel who is accused of gambling away nearly five billion euros. The core tenet of the argument comes down to risk. That as an employee Jerome was “encouraged” by his bosses to take risks while his bosses accuses him of taking “inhuman” risks.

from The Great Debate UK:

Seeking the silver lining in a volcanic ash cloud

Rachel Andrew- Dr Rachel Andrew is a clinical psychologist working for the NHS in Lancashire. The opinions expressed are her own. -

I spoke to Sophie, a good friend of mine, on Wednesday.

She is currently stranded in Majorca, Spain, as a consequence of the volcanic ash from Iceland. When I asked her how she was feeling about her situation she replied, “I’m feeling great.”

from The Great Debate UK:

Travellers could feel long-lasting impact of volcano disruption

RobertBor- Professor Robert Bor is a clinical psychologist with a special interest in aviation and  travel psychology. He has published several books on this topic. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The opening of UK airspace on Wednesday will clearly bring some relief to travellers stranded around the world. For others, their misery and feelings of fear and uncertainty will continue well after they have returned home, and that could be still a few weeks for now.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Watch out! Number four is gonna blow!

Blog Guy, I'm curious about the psychology of fashion models. Do they just wear anything they're given, or do they have strong personal feelings about the creations?

That is a very astute question. Usually, a model wears any piece of rancid garbage some nutjob designer wraps around her wispy body.