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Getting Smarter

Today I plan on letting up with my comments on the presidential candidates.  I am depressed and upset.  I wish the candidates would spend more time discussing the issues and what got us into this mess.  Candidly, I do have the feeling that no matter what I say I am not going to influence anything.  So, let’s let up a bit:

The January 9 issue of Newsweek Magazine had an interesting article on “31 Ways to get Smarter in 2012.”  I went through the article and found that I have some experience with a number of these ideas.  Now, from what I can tell they are not listed in some sort of importance — they are simply 31 ideas.

The entire article is on the web:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/12/30/31-ways-to-get-smarter-in-2012.html

I would like to discuss some of them:

Get News from Al Jazeera:  The article states “Don’t shut yourself out from new ideas.”  A 2009 study found that viewers of Al Jazeera English were more open minded than people who got their news from CNN International or BBC World”

My experience:  I downloaded Al Jazeera on my iPhone when it first became available.  They have come a long way.  I used them about as much as CNN and BBC and my observation is that while CNN and BBC have remained rather static — or have gone downhill, Al Jazeera is getting better and better all the time.  Their strength is in Middle Eastern coverage but they have really been doing a good job with the American election process as well.  The hot button issue for them is their objectivity on Middle Eastern coverage.  I personally feel that they lean over backward to be fair.  They are more inclined to publish gruesome pictures than the Western sources but all in all if you don’t have it on your iPhone or Android, well, you should!

Download the TED App:  Yes, indeed.  You will see videos — usually about 15 minutes in length — of some very brilliant minds in all fields.  Some were funny and some were very deep.  All were good.  This is a really easy and fun way to learn something.  It is also available on the web:  www.ted.com  do it!

Learn a Language:  I am a total failure in that one.  I have tried throughout the years to learn Hebrew, German, Russian, Polish, etc.  I was never successful.  I volunteer with a number of people who all speak a foreign language.  They are some of the smartest people I know.  I can’t tell if they are smart because they know a second language, but they are very bright.  If you are able to pick up a language, go for it!

Eat Dark Chocolates:  Well, I score 100% in this one.  I never met a chocolate that I didn’t like!  I generally don’t have them in my hand long enough to notice dark or light.  Newsweek claims that dark chocolates are reported to have memory enhancing flavonoids.  Me: OK with me.  I love chocolates.

Wipe that smile off your face:  Experiments have shown that the simple act of frowning makes you more skeptical and analytic in your thinking.  Me: I blog therefore I frown.

Follow these people on Twitter:  Nouriel Roubini (@Nouriel), you will learn a lot about his economic genius, and his playboy lifestyle.  Jad Abumrad (@JadAbumrad), his show “Radiolab” is the smartest guide to science and philosophy on the airwaves.  Colson Whitehead (@colsonwhitehead), the acclaimed novelist is just as insightful and funny in 140 characters.  My Experience:  I am going to try Colson Whitehead.  I have actually been following Roubini and Abumrad for a while.  I like them.

Eat Yogurt:  I have been doing that for a while.  I like the flavored, low cal yogurt as a snack after dinner (or, you could say, a dessert).  Studies on mice have shown that they cause increased activity in sections of the brain that handle emotions and memory.  Since I do flavored and lo-cal, I can’t be sure if I am still getting the benefit touted.

Drink Coffee:  Newsweek says, don’t just drink one cup.  They go on to say that women who drank four cups of coffee a day were less likely to suffer depression than women who drank just one cup per week.  Other studies have shown that coffee bolsters short term memory.  My experience:  That’s me, coffee and chocolates.

Write Reviews Online:  Newsweek says that anyone can be a critic online and you should be, too.  Write reviews on Amazon, etc…..  This will help you better understand your own thinking.  My experience:  Obviously I write a blog.  Putting your ideas on paper (or on the screen) does force you to think more clearly.

So, there are lots more.  There are also articles from people who have vast experience in studying the brain.  Everyone should read it.

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