Why doing everything online might make it harder to keep things straight.

My converted spare room home office and near-constant companion, Peppermint the cat.

Have you been working from home since March? Are you enjoying it or are you missing your old workplace? Are you are also starting to notice a monotony that seems to lead to mild memory confusion? I am. In this post, I want to explore how and why doing everything online might make it harder to keep things straight.

Zoom Takes Over

In 2020, many of us learned to work from home. The novel coronavirus that caused COVID-19 also caused a shift in how a lot of us worked. Across the world, many teachers, tech workers, knowledge workers, people in media, and people…


The 2020 presidential election in the US is overbearing. There are daily, hourly updates of breaking news. The current campaigns interleave with other news and the current president’s unending twitter stream. Everything is turned into a campaign issue. It’s maddening and many of us just want to find someone to vote for who will represent us, who is like us, who we can identify with.

I think that’s a mistake.

Democrats in Iowa /Scott Olson / Getty Images

Identity politics.

We’re so used to the conventional form of identity politics that I think we have difficulty seeing candidates in any other way. We evaluate candidates on whether or not they…


Reading scientific papers as PDFs is a major part of being an academic. Professors, postdocs, grad students and undergraduates end up working with PDFs, making notes, and then using those notes to write a manuscript or paper. Although there are lots of great PDF viewers and reference managers, I use a program call Paperpile. Paperpile is cloud-based PDF manager and was originally designed to be a reference manager for Google Docs. It can sync all your PDFs with your Google Drive (so you can read them offline) and neatly integrates with Google Scholar and Chrome so that you can import…


If you're looking to be active but your gym is closed, or you can't book the workout time that you wanted, or the spin class is no longer operating because of the COVID pandemic, My suggestion is to get outdoors and run in any kind of weather. And if you live in a temperate zone, or even a really cold area like most of Canada, winter running is better than summer running.

I love running outside, but each season is different. And where I live, Southern Ontario, we get quite a range, with summer high temperatures up to the mid…


How a mindfulness practice can be cultivated and helpful for academic leaders.

Looking west over Lake Erie, Port Stanley, Ontario

Academia, like many other sectors, is a complex work environment. Although universities vary in terms of their size and objectives, the average university in the United States, Canada, UK, and EU must simultaneously serve the interests of undergraduate education, graduate education, professional education, basic research, applied research, public policy research, and basic scholarship. Most research universities receive funding for operation from a combination of public and private sources. For example, my home university, The University of Western Ontario, receives its operating funds from tuition payments, governments, research funding agencies, and private donors. …


It’s useful and powerful to know how something works. The cliché that “knowledge is power” may be a common and overused expression but that does not mean it is inaccurate. Let me illustrate this idea with a story from a different area. I use this rhetorical device often by the way. I frequently try to illustrate one idea with an analogy from another area. It’s probably a result of being a professor and lecturer for so many years. I try to show the connection between concepts and different examples. It can be helpful and can aid understanding. …


Last week, Matthew Sears, a professor of classic at the University of New Brunswick, wrote a great article in MacLean’s about how academics should participate more often in public scholarship and debate. For example, if you’re a historian and you think Steven Pinker gets the Enlightenment wrong, speak up and challenge. If you’re a developmental psychologist and you think Jean Twenge gets things wrong about kids and digital devices, speak up. And if you’re a humanities scholar or biological psychologist and you think Jordan Peterson gets archetypes, myth, or lobsters wrong, speak up and challenge. In particular, if some public…


Both of my daughters play team sports. Club sports, recreational leagues, competitive leagues, and high school teams. It’s part of the fabric in our community and it’s also a bit of cultural heritage as well. Team sports are part of growing up for many middle class Canadians and Americans. And of course I played a lot of different sports in high school and my wife did as well. So we probably passed that on to our own kids.

Benefits of team sports

Team sports have a lot of obvious benefits. There’s the physical activity aspect for sure and team sports can be a fun…


Correlation does not imply causation” is a well-worn phrase, an expression used to explain things, and (often) to smugly shut down an argument. There’s a meta effect in which the phrase has some causal power: it can cause an argument to be discarded.

Of course, though, correlation often does imply causation. Cause and effect are most definitely correlated. Pearson even designed his correlation coefficient as an index of the strength of causation. It’s just that correlation is not enough to allow a valid causal inference to be made.

Causality and the Cat

Sometimes, even direct causal links are not even enough to infer causation…


Women’s March leaders address a rally against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh in front of the court building on September 24 | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The language we use to describe something can provide insights into how we think about it. For example, we all reserve words for close family members (“Mama” or “Papa”) that have special meaning and these words are often constrained by culture. And as elements of culture, there are times when the linguistic conventions can tell us something very deep about how our society think about events.

Current Events

This week (late September 2018) has been a traumatic and dramatic one. A Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh was accused of an attempted rape 35 years ago. Both he and the accuser, Christine Blasey…

John Paul Minda

Author and Professor of Psychology at Western University. I write about Cognitive Science, Psychology, and Higher Education. http://jpminda.com/

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