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This article is about the upcoming election in British Columbia, Canada.

I was a teaching assistant in the psychology department at Simon Fraser University in 2012 when the Teaching and Support Staff Union — my union — took job action.

The TSSU wanted, among other things, to give graduate students hiring priority over undergraduate and external applicants. They thought this would provide more financial stability for graduate students.

I agreed with the policy, even though it meant that I, as an undergraduate TA, would have lower priority.

As they escalated their job action, the TSSU sought to garner student support. They decided to spin the policy as good for students by arguing that undergraduate and external TAs weren’t as good at teaching as graduate students.


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Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

I biked across Canada in the summer of 2017.

I had just finished my master’s degree, which was a very challenging experience — and not really in a good way. As I was finishing my thesis, I decided I needed to do something to recover. I wanted to do something difficult, but I didn’t want to think too hard. I didn’t want to rely on other people for my success. I wanted to get out of my head and into my body.

So I bought a bike and started pedalling.

Between June and September, I cycled 7,400 kilometres (about 4,600 miles) from Victoria, British Columbia to St. …


Optimize your pricing by including unattractive options

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Photo by René Porter on Unsplash

In the late 2000s, psychologist and behavior economist Dan Ariely noticed something strange in the way that The Economist priced its subscription options. Its three options were:

1. A web-only subscription for $59.

2. A print-only subscription for $125.

3. The web and print subscription for $125.

You might be as confused as Ariely was: why would anyone buy the print-only subscription?

It turns out that they wouldn’t. Ariely conducted a study among students at MIT. He asked them which option they would prefer to purchase. …


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Photo by Nicolas Gras on Unsplash

Social scientists have historically studied video games in terms of negatives.

They’ve looked at whether video game use can lead to reductions in academic performance, create cardiovascular risks, or even epilepsy. More recently, gaming disorder, which describes video game behaviour that resembles addiction, has been added by the World Health Organization into the International Classification of Diseases.

But are video games all bad?

Given that there are billions of players of digital games world-wide, it may also be worth asking: What are the possible benefits of video games? Are there any?

It turns out that some studies do find that video games can have positive effects on people. Besides the possibility of enhancing cognitive performance and improving performance for surgeons in some cases, there also appear to be some benefits for gamers’ well-being. This article reviews that research that shows video games can boost various aspects of psychological well-being. …


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Photo by Dustin Belt on Unsplash

I knew the pandemic had a huge effect on our collective mental health, but I didn’t immediately recognize the effect it was having on me.

I didn’t notice feeling anxious or worried, but I noticed that my behaviour changed. I suddenly started pacing around the living room, I began to crave chocolate, and I found it difficult to go running, even though it’s something that I love.

The solution came by accident.

I started a book club years ago with a friend while she was away at grad school. …


Can video games make you better at your job? If you’re a surgeon, the answer appears to be “yes”

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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Can video games make you better at your job? If you’re a surgeon, the answer appears to be “yes”.

Gaming Improves Hand-Eye Coordination

Several studies have found that playing video games can improve eye-hand coordination.

Tan Ying Li and his colleagues conducted a study designed to see if playing a video game could increase hand-eye coordination in a group of medical students from Melaka Manipal Medical College in Malaysia. The researchers split the medical students into two groups. In the experiment group, participants were asked to play the smartphone game “Make Them Jump“. The other group didn’t play the game.

The researchers tested hand-eye coordination by asking them to throw a ball at a wall with one hand and catch it with the other. The number of catches they made in 30 seconds was recorded. They recorded the data before and after the intervention. …


Slowly escalate your asks to let people affirm their connection with you

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Photo by Milo Bauman on Unsplash

The “foot-in-the-door” technique comes from the days of door-to-door salespeople. It describes a series of requests that aim to increase the number of people that agree to a request.

The idea is, as a door-to-door salesperson, you get your “foot in the door” by asking first for a small request. Then, when your audience agrees, you ask for a larger request — what you really want.

It’s the opposite of the “door-in-the-face” technique: you can increase compliance with the larger request by first asking for a more modest one.

Evidence for the Foot-in-the-Door Effect

Some of the original research on this effect was conducted by Johnathan Freedman and Scott Fraser in the 1960s. In one experiment, they first asked a bunch of housewives (this was the ’60s) to sign a petition for political action to improve safe driving. The majority of housewives that they approached agreed to the petition. …


A complete plan for language acquisition that works

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Photo by Hannah Wright on Unsplash

I teach English and have learned Spanish, French, and Portuguese. I can’t tell you how many people say, “Man, I wish I followed through with (insert language here) when I was younger.”

And then people usually follow it up with, “But I was never much good with languages anyway.”

Well, learning a language is hard. But you can get fluent if you want to.

You don’t have to do boring grammar exercises or pay for expensive classes to do it. …


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Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

The origin of this is a quick travel story: this one time in Dublin I accidentally lost my passport when I got a bit tipsy and made out vigorously with a stranger on a park bench. I had put my bag down. Then we left. My bag, and the passport inside of it, was gone by the time I realized what had happened.

So I was stuck in Ireland a little longer than I was planning to be. I decided to make the best of it and get some writing done at the public library.

This is my review of the library. …


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Photo by Jack Sloop on Unsplash

5G is coming.

5G is the fifth generation of wireless networks. It’s significantly faster than current 4G networks, but the reason that 5G is important is not just so we can all watch Tiger King over and over on our phone or scroll endlessly through Facebook. It’s going to be essential to handle the massive increase in global mobile traffic that is expected in the next few years. Some estimates suggest that there will be over 5 times the mobile traffic in 2024 that there is today. 5G will be required to support that traffic.

But there’s another reason that 5G will be important: it will enable cities to be able to become Smart Cities. …

About

Ramsay Lewis

Ramsay is a researcher, educator, and writer (crisptext.ca) based in Brazil. When not writing, you can find him cycling or looking for his keys.

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