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Dave Cortright
Silicon Valley, CA
Technologist · Designer · Environmentalist · Conservationist · Vegan · Singer
Recent Activity
Not surprising, but having your smartphone out during a face-to-face interaction negatively impacts the quality of that in-person interaction. Using a field experiment and experience sampling, we found the first evidence that phone use may undermine the enjoyment people derive from real world social interactions. In Study 1, we recruited... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
I’m using the Cambrian explosion as the anchor point for these comparisons because that is when more complex animals appeared. Animals—living beings with locomotion—necessarily had at least primitive emotional systems that guided them towards good things (safety, food, mates) and away from bad things (harm). Primates (social mammals) appeared at... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
For the better half of the 20th century, the forest fire management policy in the United States was complete suppression. If a fire starts, put it out. However there was no one around to put out the fires in the preceding 300+ million years and somehow the planet managed just... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
There certainly has been enormous progress in our understanding of how things work in the world. Yet at any given point in the past, there are numerous examples of things we (or at least some reasonable population of us) collectively thought we knew but turned out to be wrong. The... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
I previously blogged about Dunbar’s Number. I was speaking to a guy friend about this and he joked about having a “Dunbar’s donut”; he didn’t have anyone that really qualified as a member of his support clique, so the closest he really got with friends was in the sympathy group.... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
As anyone who happens to be reading these recent blog entries can see, I’m trying to synthesize my thoughts on human nature and living life fully. The catalyst for all of this was a realization that humans—and really all forms of life—were designed. I don’t mean that an intelligent creator... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
The biggest difference between humans and other animals is that humans arrogantly believe the difference to be much bigger than it really is. The best way to honor your ancestors is to learn from their experiences—both successes and failures. Indeed it is also the best way to honor yourself. Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright This meta-analysis that is linked to in that article is particularly compelling data. Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
My summary of the book The Elephant in the Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson: Once our ancestors figured out how to cook food using fire, we had more calories available. Through natural selection, this extra energy was diverted into creating bigger brains in an arms race that pitted... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
Let me start by saying that the Blue Zones research and the new CNN series Chasing Life where Dr. Sanjay Gupta visits the Blue Zones are great. It’s data-driven and there are important take aways. But I feel like the relative weight of the various findings are not well articulated.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
Gideon, I’m taking you up on your request for feedback on the 10 breakthrough technologies in 2019. I think the list is a great one, and as an ex-Microsoft employee, I was amused—but not surprised—to see that BillG had his own ideas about the list. 😊 As a vegan environmentalist,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
I just re-read Michael Ian Black’s Feb 2018 OpEd in the NY Times written in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. I think it’s great to even be having a conversation about this issue, but to focus too much on boys vs. girls and men vs.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
Last Friday I had the privilege of attending Dan Buettner’s talk on “Blue Zones” at the Los Altos Celebrity Forum. (Turns out it was the very last event in that 51-year series, so a historic night as well.) Dan talked about the overarching similarities among the 5 Blue Zones he... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
In 1976, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins published The Selfish Gene. 35 years later (in 2011), Kevin Kelly (the original Wired Editor) wrote the book What Technology Wants. Merging the concept of the former with the pithy phrasing of the latter, we get “what genes want”, or more specifically what our... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
These days given how pervasive smartphone usage is, it’s inevitable that at some point you—or someone you know—is going to crack a screen and need to have it replaced. It happened to me recently with my iPhone 8; and it was my 3rd in the 10+ years I’ve owned an... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2019 at Info Tech for Non-Profits
Healthy emotional management necessarily involves interactions with others. The vast majority of our emotional health is driven by having healthy relationships with others. It worls best when both people are in a good place emotionally and are doing the right things (like active listening). However the system can handle it... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
The Dunbar Number states that we can really only maintain up to 150 people in our personal network. But there are other just as important implications of Dunbar’s work. I think this infographic from Boston University illustrates it nicely. A person with healthy relationships necessarily has them at various levels... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
I bought 6 of the Samsung Galaxy J7 Neo for one of my conservation partners who works in Africa last fall, and he just put in a second order for another 6. That’s a solid endorsement, so I’d recommend it to others looking for a budget international smartphone. (Here’s the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2019 at Info Tech for Non-Profits
Going along with my last post of the simple handful of things necessary for a healthy and fulfilling life, this article reinforces #4—move our entire bodies in natural ways throughout the day, especially walking: …Regular, incidental activity that gets you huffing and puffing is likely to produce health benefits, even... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
Yes, that word is autotlogical by design. I do believe that we humans as a species have this amazing capacity to think and reason and that just ends up getting us into trouble. The true path to living a fulfilling life is actually quite simple, but it isn't easy, especially... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright
Watch this first: Pretty amazing, right? I saw a demo of this at a community event I attended in Westgate, Kenya last year. And I realize something like this doesn't directly aid in wildlife conservation. But if conservation orgs provide resources such as clean water to the community with the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2019 at Info Tech for Non-Profits
I just started a thread on the WildLabs forum about when low-tech solutions outperform high-tech alternatives. I mention the practice of painting eyes on the rumps of cattle to trick predators into thinking the animal is looking at them (although I can't readily find any follow up data on how... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2019 at Info Tech for Non-Profits
So this was annoying: an ASUS laptop that I procured for a nonprofit stopped working on battery power. Previously we solved it by simply uninstalling all the drivers under Batteries in the Windows Device Manager (as outlined in this article). But this time that didn't work. I actually had to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2019 at Info Tech for Non-Profits
The world is full of unintended consequences of the actions of humans, but one of the biggest one is modern civilization itself. If you look at the way our ancestors lived—and even our closest living relatives the bonobos and chimps—it’s much different from our current lifestyle. They lived outside in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2019 at KPAO by Dave Cortright