Jim Davies

  • blackfriday

    How Black Friday Got Its Name

    Shutterstock/PremiumVector As legend has it, it takes most of the year for a retail business to become profitable. After months of being “in the red,” in November they are finally “in the black.” This phrase has been used in this way since 1922. Nautilus Members enjoy an ad-free experience. Log in or Join now . […]

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    How Many Real Friends Can You Have at Once?

    My wife can’t seem to walk for a half-hour around Ottawa, a city with nearly a million people, without running into at least three of her friends. Some people, like my wife, seem to have a zillion of them, while others appear to be content with just a handful. Having more friends seems like a […]

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    Why You’re Biased About Being Biased

    The more we convince ourselves that we don’t have certain biases, the more likely we are to exhibit them.

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    Why the Dark Side of the Force Had to Be Dark

    You don’t have to look very hard to see that our culture has some pretty powerful associations between colors and feelings. As a recent example, the new Pixar film Inside Out has characters representing emotions, and the color choices for these characters—red for anger, and blue for sadness—feel right.Red, specifically, is one of the most […]

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    Why Tinder Charmers and Movie Heroes Move the Same Way

    Tinder—in case you’re not active in the young-person dating pool—is a dating application that shows you pictures of other Tinder users in your area. If you are not interested in meeting the person you see, you swipe their picture to the left. If you are interested, you swipe right. If two people right-swipe each other’s […]

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    Why Is There So Much Hate for the Word “Moist”?

    A lot of people don’t like the word “moist.” Several Facebook groups are dedicated to it, one with over 3,000 likes, New Yorker readers overwhelmingly selected it as the word to eliminate from the dictionary, and Jimmy Fallon sarcastically thanked it for being the worst word in the English language. When you ask people why […]

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    Why Facebook Is the Junk Food of Socializing

    Have you ever been walking in a dark alley and seen something that you thought was a crouching person, but it turned out to be a garbage bag or something similarly innocuous? Me too.Have you ever seen a person crouching in a dark alley and mistaken it for a garbage bag? Me neither. Why does […]

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    How Science Can Learn From Writing That Is “Not Even Wrong”

    “…when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.” –Nietzsche For some people, this quote is very evocative. It feels important, and beautiful. Others feel like it doesn’t mean anything at all, because the idea of a deep hole looking at something is absurd. Many people have both reactions. What are […]

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    Some Music Is Inherently Bad—But People Can Be Convinced Otherwise

    Artistic appreciation is a deeply subjective process, perhaps the most essentially personal thing that humans do. But are there some explanations for why we like what we do? Why, for instance, does a particular song get popular?Some of it has to do with the quality of the music—and by quality, I mean that there’s something […]

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    The Death of Hundreds Is Just a Statistic—But It Doesn’t Have to Be

    Imagine that tomorrow I were to show you a newspaper article describing a deadly wildfire. Do you think you’d be more upset upon reading that 10,000 people died than if you read that five people died? This scenario makes people engage in affective forecasting—predicting their future emotional states. We expect that hearing about 10,000 deaths […]