Accurately sizing up someone’s mental acuity is a valuable life skill – by Sean Kernan

There are significant reasons to size up a person’s mental acuity. For example, if you are taking advice, interviewing, or communicating, it helps to know what you are working with. Many of the best managers are excellent at reading their audience.

If you are looking for a one-shot way to determine brilliance, stop reading now. If you are looking for exceptions to the following points, you’ll be able to find them. The following are correlative, not causal. This is an exercise in nuance. Because within nuance, you find most answers.

They Practice Intellectual Humility
I worked in finance and mostly hated it. However, one of the few perks was the people. The industry attracts and needs intelligent people. Consequently, hiring successful candidates mandated we get a quick read on them. Interviewing is tricky because everyone is putting their best foot forward and trying to sound smart, as perhaps they should.

A manager taught us a trick: ask a question the candidate won’t know the answer to. Then, observe how they act. A very good sign was when they could simply admit they didn’t know, rather than fake it and force-feed an answer.

This admission is a sign of intellectual humility, which is correlated to better decision-making. This is particularly useful in an industry plagued by arrogance. Intellectually humble people challenge their conclusions based on evidence and feedback from others. As a simplistic example, you’ll see this when people say, “From what I’ve seen, it could be true.” Rather than, “It’s definitely true.” They frame their observations as open to critique. They prize truth over ego.

Obvious Signs are Often a Valid Data Point
For example, people who refuse to social distance tend to be less intelligent. People who read in their free time skew smarter than those who don’t. Things that smart people tend to do, tend to be done by smarter people.

Many years ago, I was working retail at a used sports equipment store. A 10-year-old kid came in to buy a baseball helmet. I gave him the price. He held the helmet up, looked it over, then looked back at me, “Can you knock a few bucks off? I mean, look at these dents.” He pointed at the dents. I smiled and gave him a discount.

When he left, I thought, “That kid is going to do just fine.” Being crafty, demonstrating street smarts, and quick thinking is correlated to intelligence. In fact, Yale scientists found that street smarts are just as important for employees as their academic smarts. More plainly, you can be a mediocre student, with great street smarts, and go on to be very successful.

They are Meta, Literally
There is a newly popular phrase, “That is so meta.” Meta means something is self-referential. For example, a Medium article that is about Medium articles is meta. A video game where you play a character playing a video game is meta. The Onion famously did this with “World of World of Warcraft.”

Related to this, intelligent people often demonstrate metacognition. They talk about and analyze their own thought process. They are objective and critique their nature. They know when and how they perform best. A simple example of meta behavior is when someone says, “I need to put this on my calendar, or I won’t hold myself accountable.” Unsurprisingly, people with high metacognition are often great students and employees. They leverage their self-awareness to their advantage.

They Know what Killed the Cat
Intelligent people tend to be curious. They have an itch to know more, to drill down on details, just for the sake of knowing. After all, that’s how we learn, right?

Curiosity is an indicator of intelligence in other animals too. For example, there was a study involving three language-trained chimps. Their job was to use a keyboard to name what food was in an unreachable container. The prize was, you guessed it, food. When the test food was visible, they just hit the correct button and got the food. When the food was hidden amongst various containers, the smarter chimps inspected and tried to peek inside the containers before giving their answers. They knew the odds of winning were higher if they learned more.

This chimp study is a basic example but reveals the power of information seeking (curiosity). And don’t forget, we share 98.8% of our DNA with chimps. The smartest chimps are measured by their ability to patiently learn and troubleshoot problems. Sound familiar?

The Strongest Indicator of Intelligence
My dad was an engineering major at the Naval Academy decades ago. He doesn’t brag very often about other men. It takes a lot to impress him. But one of his roommates, Charlie was a special classmate.

They were both in an industrial engineering class. It was the hardest class he’d ever taken. Dad said they’d come back to the room. He’d study for hours while Charlie only studied 20 minutes and then fiddled with his guitar. That roommate still got better grades than my dad, who is fairly bright, and it ticked him off to no end. That roommate went on to become a college professor.

At the pulsing core of intelligence is the ability to simplify complex problems and solve them, as Charlie did. Often, that skill is genetic. The people themselves don’t know how they do it. You can develop the skill as well. A physics professor once told me that, “A big problem is just a bunch of small problems combined. Learn to separate them out.” It’s all a matter of approach.

Conclusion and Takeaway
Society has placed a massive priority on intelligence. We often feel pressure to be smart and value those who are. Never forget the value of kindness and respect. Each person has their own combination of skills and gifts and should be respected as such.

Remember, outside of a psychologist-provided test, there’s no real way to gauge intelligence in one data-point.

But if they do these five things, there is a very good chance they are quite smart.

They demonstrate a curiosity to learn more information.

They can openly admit when they don’t know something. They know and operate within their limits.

They can break down complex problems and cut straight to a solution.

They have an acute awareness of their own thought process. They critique and understand it.
They use that knowledge to their advantage.

They display obvious signs of intelligence. They think quickly on their feet and have situational awareness.



We need a way to clean up our media environment ~ by Paul Greenberg

The polluter has to pay.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from two decades of environmental reporting it’s this simple rule. When industries like coal and oil are allowed to reap extraordinary profits from the environment without paying for the cost of the damage they inflict they have zero incentive to behave as responsible members of society.

In the last few years I’ve been writing more and more about the Tech Industry and surprisingly I’ve come to the same conclusion about the media environment. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media companies are the major conduits through which fake news and incitements to intolerance pour into the nation’s collective reservoir of consciousness. And yet as things stand today the companies that are most responsible for dumping media toxic waste are the least liable under the law. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act states “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” In other words, right now, the owners of all those pipes that are dumping all that toxicity into our media environment explicitly don’t pay.

As we start to move into the thornier phase of the Biden administration it’s therefore imperative that we begin to reform our media laws so that they more closely behave like environmental laws. We have a Clean Water Act that prohibits the dumping of harmful chemicals and refuse into our waterways. We need our Communications Decency Act to behave more like a Clean Media Act — a law that would make the polluter pay, not only for the cost of dirtying the environment but for the time and expense it takes to clean it up.

To extend the metaphor it’s worth looking a bit more deeply into what makes The Clean Water Act so effective. The Clean Water Act, signed into law overriding President Nixon’s veto, pledges that the major waterways of the United States should be “swimmable and fishable.” Americans should be able to immerse themselves in American waters without getting sick and draw value from those same waters. The media environment should be similarly clean. We should be able to spend time immersing ourselves in news and not be sickened by calls to violence and discrimination. And like a fisherman fishing in clean water, we should be able to draw usable value from our media waterways. We should not have a media environment like Russia’s, so spoiled by misinformation that citizens find themselves unable to make informed choices in their day-to-day lives.

The Clean Water Act requires that major waterways of the United States be “swimmable and fishable” . . . The media environment should be similarly clean

With the fishable and swimmable premise established for the media environment we can follow the Clean Water Act’s guidance even further. The Clean Water Act focuses on regulating “point source polluters” — entities that introduce pollution directly into the environment — the pipe owners themselves. When the EPA seeks to punish an automobile plant for dumping leftover car paint into a river, they fine the plant not the autoworker who painted the car. The same should hold true for the owners of the media pipes — the Facebooks, Twitters and YouTubes of the world. Sure the guy who made an Islamophobic, fact-free meme is culpable. But it’s very hard to track down that guy and punish him for his misdeeds. That’s why we need to police the Media Outflow Pipe Owners (MOPO’s?) so that they in turn police the bad actors on their sites.

MOPO’s should also have to pay for remediation and repair of the environment they’ve polluted. Dirty Media, like dirty water, has downstream effects — sickening the thoughts of young people, corroding the pipes and bridges of society, building up like DDT in our minds over time — and so we need to figure out a precise mechanism for making polluters pay. Judges in Clean Water Act lawsuits typically assess damages done to the environment by putting a unit cost on, say, a spilled barrel of oil and then multiplying that cost out by the number of barrels spilled. It was through a calculation like this that litigators slapped a $20 billion fine on British Petroleum after it leaked more than three million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Social media may defend themselves by saying they can’t really control how misinformation spreads throughout their networks. I’m pretty sure if Twitter were liable for each instance a hateful meme was shared, the company would figure out a best available technology to scrub that meme from its platform ASAP.

Lastly, should a media company be found to be irredeemably toxic the government should have the authority to create something equivalent to a SuperFund site out of it. It shouldn’t only be up to Apple to ban Parler from its sales platforms. The media equivalent of nuclear waste needs government containment, oversight and continued monitoring until its half-life diminishes to something approaching harmless.

All of this is a tall order and if the government does choose to abolish section 230 from the Communications Decency Act there is sure to be intense blowback from Tech. That’s because a large part of their business model relies on not being liable for the damages they themselves are causing. But fixing this problem is an urgent imperative. The very existence of good governance depends on it.
American media polluters have amassed fortunes equivalent to those of the pharaohs of Egypt. Our loss has been their gain. For the sake of our health and the health of our children going forward, it’s time to fix the upstream problem so that all of us downstream can start to think our way clearly and rationally into the future.

More of my thoughts on media and/or the environment in my two new books by Paul Greenburg

Goodbye Phone, Hello World and The Climate Diet


Scan viral content sites for new topics to instantly earn six figures…

Kiran Yasmin
Feb 22 · 4 min read

In the freelance writing industry, money is considered motivation to work harder and better. Various aspiring writers feel shame about what they are earning every month. In an urge to make more than enough, they take writing courses and often copy the content or ideas of top writers. They are not ashamed of their skills and hard work. They are probably ashamed of confessing that they are making pennies. This may not be the case of every single writer, but it is obviously the situation of those who are writing solely for money or have families to take care of.

The good news is that anybody can write six-figure articles. The Internet is full of viral content sites to get ideas from. Here are a couple of examples for you.

Get $200 To $500 Per Article
Manage your own time and make enough money…

This Website Pays Content Writers $100 Per Post
Feel free to write as much as you want…

    Unique Visitors: 220000000
    BuzzFeed is one of the best independent digital media companies in the world. It is known to leverage data and innovation to reach millions of people every month. The website has loads of topics. You may choose a category of your choice and read a few articles to create similar stuff. However, you are not permitted to copy anything. Some of the main options are given below.
    You can create videos, quizzes, lists, and plain yet informative articles.
    Like BuzzFeed, you can write portfolios of top personalities or talk about different brands that are trending on the Internet.
    If you are able to produce original content for cable, film, and digital platforms, you will be paid heavily and your articles may go viral, making you millions of dollars.
    World-class reporting and investigation stories can be written to get more and more visibility.
  2. VOX.COM
    Unique Visitors: 25700000
    Vox covers everything from culture and science to technology, politics, history, and health. Like BuzzFeed, this website has plenty of viral content ideas. You can write topics similar to Vox, and if you copy several lines or photos, please don’t forget to cite the original author. Here is what its writers love to write.
    Vox has a separate section for big and major stories outside of the news cycle. You can go to this section to get some inspiration for your next viral story.
    The site has various professional writers trying to predict the future of humanity. These kinds of stories get lots of views.
    This section is devoted to the things people buy on a daily basis.
    Unique Visitors: 20900000
    Mashable is popular culture, science, technology, and entertainment platform of the United States. It publishes hundreds of news stories every day and was founded in 2005 by Pete Cashmore. If you are scanning Mashable for viral content, you may like the following sections.
    These days, everybody is talking about coronavirus and such stories instantly get millions of views. Go to this section to know what is happening in the health sector and start writing something good.
    If possible, you can create an episodic series of spoken word digital audio files that can be downloaded and listened to by the world’s users.
    Who wouldn’t like entertainment? The world is full of problems, and if you write entertaining stories, people will definitely want to read them. You can create lists or write news stories on celebrities.
    Unique Visitors: 9150000
    Bored Panda is popular art, design, and photography community for creative content creators. Every story published here goes viral, and this is probably the reason why so many people use Bored Panda to get backlinks. You can scan this site to obtain useful information.
    In the Featured section, you will find some of the best and finest stories. These articles have received hundreds of comments and keep generating more views.
    In this section, you will find stories that have never been told. You can find various information and photos here.
    Last but not least, this section contains the current or latest information on almost everything. It is good for writers who are looking for fresh and unique content ideas.
    After checking these sites, you will surely get various topics to write about. The more you write, the higher will be your earnings.



What works for you may be different from what has worked for other writers…

by Kiran Yasmin

The Internet is full of tips and advice on how to write viral stories, how to gain enough followers, and how to get plenty of reads or views. Only a few of these tips and tricks are worth the time of a writer.

It is important for every writer to produce high-quality and unique content.

Every story you write should be free from grammatical and spelling mistakes and must provide the reader with something good and interesting to learn from. I know that not everyone can write content daily, as we all have our own lifestyles or routines. However, when you decide to write a post, you don’t need to devote a lot of time. Thirty to forty minutes are enough to write a story of 800 words.

Here is a quick and effective guide for every aspiring writer.

writing, typing, journaling

Step#1: Think What You Are Going To Write
Time Required: 5 Minutes
The Goal: 200 Words

Before you start writing, you need to spend five minutes thinking about the topic. You may check the most trending posts to have an idea of what to write today. Or else, you can select your own subject or topic and collect information on it right away. Writers should get their head clear and ask themselves the following questions:

What I am trying to argue?

How am I educating my target audience?

What type of problem I will solve?

What actions do I want my readers to take?

Please bear in mind that your article topic should be engaging and informative. It should not be something that wastes the time of readers.

Step#2: Organize Your Thoughts And Information
Time Required: 5 minutes
The Goal: 100 Words

Once you have chosen the topic and have collected the relevant information, the next step is to organize your ideas and thoughts. It won’t take you enough time if you have already written several articles. You may create an outline, which I think is the best way to organize one’s thoughts.

Writers who have multiple pieces of advice or tips on their topics can format their content into “tip” articles, such as 10 Tips To Writing Viral Stories and 5 Ways To Boost Your Performance. Once you are done, you will be ready to move to the next step.

Step#3: Write Fast And Furious
Time Required: 15 Minutes
The Goal: 300 Words

It is going to be the most difficult step, especially for those who have not written much content. However, there is nothing to worry about. You just need some practice and hard work to be able to write 300 words in ten to fifteen minutes. Here are some quick tips for my fellow writers.

Write 100 words in five minutes by following the outline you have made.

Fill each part with something that comes to your mind in terms of information.

Don’t forget to use the information you have collected from different offline and online resources.

It is all about getting the words on the page as quickly as possible. There is no need to worry about grammar and spelling because your focus should be on writing the required number of words. If you pause to consider what you have said, you may lose the momentum and the writing process will be slowed down.

Step#4: Clean It Up
Time Required: 10 Minutes
The Goal: 200 Words

This is the step in which you have to edit and proofread the work. You may write another 200 words as a conclusion if you think that the length of the article is not enough. There are plenty of tools for writers to check grammar and spelling, Grammarly being one of them.

I think that there is no alternative to manual editing and proofreading. Besides writing another 200 words (optional), you should edit and proofread the whole content and make sure it is understandable and readable from a reader’s viewpoint. I suggest you spend a couple of seconds elaborating on your ideas and cleaning up anything that is not clear to you.

Step#5: Write The Headline
Time Required: 5 Minutes
The Goal: 5–15 Words

The headline or title of the most is what will attract the audience. It needs to be eye-catching and informative. You don’t need to spend hours writing a good headline. In fact, you need five minutes to brainstorm a good title.

I recommend writers writing multiple titles or headlines and choosing one of them. You may revise the title to make it look good but the length should not be more than ten words. Attend peer review groups or seek the help of a fellow writer if you are confused about writing a great title.

Last but not least, you should naturally use the main keyword in the title and sub-title.


Percy Bysshe Shelley
BORN: 4 August 1792, Horsham, Sussex, England
DIED: 8 July 1822 (aged 29), Gulf of La Spezia, Kingdom of Sardinia (now Italy)
OCCUPATION: Poet, dramatist, essayist, novelist
EDUCATION: Eton College
ALMA MATER: University of Oxford
SPOUSE: #1 Harriet Westbrook, (m. 1811; died 1816)​ – #2 Mary Shelley (m. 1816)

How a simple poem influenced famous freedom fighters like Gandhi to adapt peaceful protests and non-violent resistance.

by Tamara Mitrofanova
Percy Shelley is so underrated that it hurts. Shelley was the first to encourage peaceful protests in overthrowing tyrannical governments and this had inspired Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and others. His legacy is being the first to pioneer peaceful protests that toppled regimes.

Percy Shelley, a famous poet from the Romantic Era, was the first to advocate for peaceful protests and he inspired Gandhi to adopt non-violent resistance. Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violent resistance influenced Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. They had all followed Shelley’s philosophy and it helped create a new world.

When Gandhi read Shelley’s poem, “The Masque of Anarchy” he was instantly captivated by its message for freedom through peace. It is known that Gandhi would often quote various passages from the poem to vast audiences during the campaign for India’s independence.

Percy Shelley wrote this poem after hearing of the tragic event known as the Massacre of Peterloo. More than a hundred working men, women and children were seriously injured when they staged a public meeting to determine how to achieve reform through “the most legal and effectual means.”

Like many others, Percy Shelley was furious over this naked governmental oppression and seized the opportunity to write what is now considered, “the greatest poem of political protest ever written in English.”

Sadly, during his lifetime his poem was considered too radical and never published until 1832, years after he died.

In 2020, this poem is still very relatable to modern events. We have seen many people throughout the world rising up in protest.

The BLM protests in response to police brutality, the Beirut explosion followed by mass protests against corruption and protests in Belarus against government oppression. The quote “Ye are many — they are few!” in the Masque of Anarchy resonates even today.
Percy Shelley’s poem had even influenced the Egyptian revolution 2011, with protestors chanting the lines, “Rise, like lions after slumber, In unvanquishable number!”

Percy Shelley is the most underrated intellectual who envisioned way ahead into the future and foresaw pacifism as the greatest weapon against despotism and injustice.

As a self-proclaimed Atheist and an advocate for freedom, he did not fit in strict and religious 18th century England. Percy Shelley was expelled from Oxford for atheism, broke ties with his rule-abiding father and eloped with two women, one being Mary Godwin Shelley, author of Frankenstein.

Discriminated against and hunted for being a political radical, he died tragically at age 29. Despite the difficulty he experienced, he never gave up hope for a better future. Percy Shelley walked around Italy wearing a ring with the good time will come inscribed on the inner surface.

Indeed good times did come and it was his poem that inspired others to take up the scepter in creating a better world.