Notable Concepts

 Quine – a language that prints itself

Apophenia – perception of patterns/formulas where none exist

Forer (Barnum) effect – an effect that explains why astrology is popular

Light echo – produced when a sudden flash or burst of light (e.g. one observed in novae), is reflected off a source and arrives at the viewer some time after the initial flash

Estivation – state of dormancy, similar to hibernation, in response to high temperatures and arid conditions

Chronotopic Anamorphosis – distortion of the images by manipulating their video footage by fragmenting it into horizontal lines and then combining lines from different frames in the display

Incessant Obsolescence Postulate – Interstellar probes become faster and cheaper over time as technology improves. Any probe launched today will be passed by a probe launched in the future, so it makes no sense to launch today

Lindy Effect – life expectancy of certain items increases with time

Skeuomorph – object that retains ornamental design cues to a structure that were necessary in the original

Contrails – long thin man-made clouds that form behind aircraft

Epicaricacy – rejoicing at or derivation of pleasure from the misfortunes of others (schadenfreude)

Triskaidekaphobia  – fear of the number 13

Linear Network Coding  – maximizing information flow in a network

Logomachy – a dispute over the meaning of words

Mojibake – presentation of incorrect, unreadable characters when software fails to render text correctly according to its associated character encoding

Matthew effect – "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer"

Adaptive Monarchy – a kind of monarchy where the successor is outside of the ruler’s kin

Double-life hypothesis – symbiogenesis of metabolising cells and parasitic genes

Hypnic jerk – involuntary twitch which occurs just as a person is beginning to fall asleep, caused by the brain's misinterpretation of relaxed muscles as falling. The brain then sends signals to arm and leg muscles in an attempt to regain balance

Curve of Constant Width – doesn't have to be a circle to roll! 

Being Minimally Redundant – how to recreate a message from any k pieces, each piece size n/k

Identifiability of de-identified data 

Benford’s Law – the frequency distribution of digits in many real-life sources of data. Number 1 occurs as the leading digit about 30% of the time, larger numbers occur in that position less frequently, with 9 as the first digit less than 5% of the time

Hawthorne Effect – subjects improve or modify an aspect of their behavior, which is being experimentally measured, in response to the fact that they know that they are being studied

Pythagorean Cup – a drinking cup which empties itself if too much liquid is poured into it

The Gibbard–Satterthwaite theorem demonstrates that no voting system using only the preference rankings of the voters can be entirely immune from tactical voting unless it is dictatorial (there is only one person who is able to choose the winner) or incorporates an element of chance


Streisand Effect – an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely

Baader Meinhof Phenomenon – Learning new information and suddenly seeing it elsewhere

Cobra Effect – an attempted solution to a problem actually makes the problem worse

Affect heuristic – we prefer things we like

Planning fallacy – people exaggerate the benefits and discount the costs of something they're responsible for

Four Walls Technique – incremental compliance

Chronostasis – when you look at a clock, and the second hand seems to freeze for a moment, your brain is actually generating a false memory, and your perception of time stretches slightly backward

Halo Effect – the default judgment sticks

Sampling on the dependent variable – cause of biased results

Priming – subconscious influence

Euphemistic relabeling – renaming something to make it less problematic

Pluralistic ignorance – we all think the others think something different

Self-serving bias – I'm better than I actually am

Loss aversion – We feel more bad about losing something than we feel good about gaining something

Fundamental Attribution Error – downplaying the context

Endowment effect – People will pay more to retain something they own than to obtain something owned by someone else

Regression to the Mean – Best ones today will likely be worse tomorrow than the rest

Homophily – people tending to pick those similar to them