10 Words That You’ve Probably Been Misusing by Tyler Vendetti

Do-not-think-it-meansThere are so many words in the English language that it’s not surprising that the definitions for some of them have gotten mixed up over the years. It’s possible that you’ve gone your entire life without realizing your mistakes. I’m sure people have noticed. One day, you were probably walking down the street, casually chatting with an old friend, and one of these words slipped out of your mouth. Before you can move on to your story about how Mufasa would actually make a very attractive human, your friend stops to correct your error, and suddenly, your whole life starts to feel like one giant lie. How long have you been using that word incorrectly, you wonder? How many angry Facebook rants have you ruined with your improper grammar?

1) Travesty

What you may think it means: a tragedy, an unfortunate event

What it actually means: a mockery; a parody

2) Ironic

What you may think it means: a funny coincidence

What it actually means: contrary to what you might expect

3) Peruse

What you may think it means: to skim or glance over something

What it actually means: to review something carefully/in-depth

4) Bemused

What you may think it means: amused

What it actually means: confused

5) Compelled

What you may think it means: to willingly do something, to feel like you need to do something

What it actually means: to be forced to do something (willingly or unwillingly)

6) Nauseous

What you may think it means: to feel sick

What it actually means: to cause nausea

7) Conversate

What you may think it means: to hold a conversation

What it actually means: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

8) Redundant

What you may think it means: repetitive

What it actually means: superfluous, able to be cut out

9) Enormity

What you may think it means: enormousness

What it actually means: extreme evil

10) Terrific

What you may think it means: awesome, fantastic

What it actually means: causing terror

(Source: http://hellogiggles.com/10-words-that-youve-probably-been-misusing )


7 Mind Tricks You Didn’t Know You Fell For

Your thoughts and behavior are surprisingly affected by seemingly unconnected ways because of the mind tricks going on in your brain, argues psychologist Adam Alter in his recent book Drunk Tank Pink.

Mind trick: You have an unconscious “like” around your name.


Science shows we show a preference for the letters that appear in our names more than other letters. Fascinatingly, research also indicates which charities we’re more likely to support. In one study of Red Cross donations following tropical storms, 10 percent of all donations post-Hurricane Katrina came from people with “K” names, a group that had donated 4 percent to disasters previously. That’s a 150 percent increase!

Mind trick: Descriptions can change how you remember things.


Memory researcher Elizabeth Loftus has shown that description can distort memory through a number of different experiments, says Alter. In one fascinating study, participants watched a video of two cars colliding. Researchers told one group that the cars had hit each other, and the other group that the cars had smashed. A week later, the scientists asked participants if they recalled broken glass at the accident. Fourteen percent of those in the “hit” group remembered seeing glass, while a third of the “smashed” panel thought it was there. But really? There hadn’t been any glass. As Alter puts it, “the sensationalized ‘smashed’ label had replaced reality with a false memory in which the cars spilled glass following the accident.”

Mind trick: Mirrors may make you behave more morally.


Researchers have found that people are more honest when forced to stare at their own mirror images, Alter writes. In one mid-70s experiment, college students were asked to unscramble a series of anagrams during a five-minute period, even though there was no way they could finish all of the puzzles during that time. The participants were told to stop working after a bell rang at the five-minute mark, or it would be considered cheating. Some did the work in front of a mirror; some couldn’t see their reflections. The fascinating results: Only 7 percent of the mirror group cheated, compared to 71 percent of the other group. “When people consider behaving badly, their mirror images become moral policemen,” says Alter.

Mind trick: Hospital window views can affect a patient’s recovery.


Patients recovering from gallbladder surgery at a suburban Philadelphia hospital had notably different experiences, depending on whether their rooms faced a brick wall or a small group of trees. The wall-facers needed to stay in the hospital a full day longer, on average, and also had more pain and were more likely to be depressed. Very few of the patients with the tree view needed more than one dose of a strong painkiller by the middle of their visit; whereas the wall facers required two or three doses. By some measures, Alter writes, patients who gazed at a natural scene were four times better off than those who faced a wall. Other studies have found that natural environments have had positive impacts on children with ADHD. Alter explains that “while man-made landscapes bombard us with stimulation, their natural counterparts give us the chance to think as much or as little as we’d like, the opportunity to replenish exhausted mental resources.” 

Mind trick: You recall more in a similar setting.


If you’ve ever heard teachers advise students to study in environments as similar to their exam room as possible, this research explains why. Researchers had scuba divers memorize lists of words, sometimes they were underwater and sometimes they were on land. They found that divers who performed the task under the sea had more accurate recall while submerged than while on land, and those who did the experiment on land remembered the words better there than under the water. “Locations form a lens through which we perceive newly acquired information,” says Alter.

Mind trick: Bright pink calms you down.


In a famous 1979 experiment, a group of healthy young men demonstrated dramatically more arm strength when they stared at a bright blue piece of cardboard compared to when they looked at a bright pink one. The study author Alexander Schauss began touting the “miraculous tranquilizing power of bright pink at public lectures across the United States,” notes Alter, and the message took off. Country jails and detention centers began to paint holding cells bubblegum pink, which became known as “drunk tank pink.” Football coaches at Colorado State and the University of Iowa even painted the visitor locker rooms pink—“in an attempt to pacify their opponents”—until athletic conferences mandated both sets of locker rooms had to be the same color.

Mind trick: Hot weather can make tempers flare.


Experts believe that heat changes us physically (we sweat more, our hearts beat faster), and it’s easy to mistake this excitement for anger during frustrating situations. Heat also makes us uncomfortable, which can promote anger and aggression—for example, studies have also found road rage is more common on warm days than cool ones. Scientists have also observed that Major League Baseball batters are much more likely to be struck by errant pitches on hotter days than cooler ones. (Note: pitches were equally accurate on warm and cool days.) Separate research also noted that when a batter was hit by the opposing team, his pitcher retaliated. At a cool 55 degrees, pitchers struck back 22 percent of the time. However, on 95 degree days, pitchers let loose 27 percent of the time. It may not seem like a lot, Alter notes, but this means that “121 additional batters would be hit in retaliation if every day of the season peaked at 95 degrees rather than 55.”


11 Historical Head Turners

Twain, Mark [Credit: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. LC-USZ62-112728]In the world of fashion, what’s old is frequently made new again. As such, we mined the annals of history in search of some fresh faces. And, what do you know, our time warp casting call turned up plenty of the sort of fierce attitudes (and high cheekbones) that define modern fashion advertising.

#1: Shi Pei Pu


<p>Chinese opera singer and spy Shi Pei Pu</p> [Credit: AP]Androgyny is in, and as such, this gender-bending spy is prime for exploitation. Contemporary double threat Andrej Pejic—who models both men’s and women’s clothing—would have some real competition from Shi, whose talents extended beyond cross-dressing to opera singing and espionage. See if that little whiff of scandal doesn’t sell a few pairs of slacks.

#2: Mark Twain

Twain, Mark: Constantinople, circa 1867 [Credit: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. LC-USZ62-28851]Mr. Clemens may have evolved into a style icon in his own right in his later years—who wouldn’t recognize his white suits and matching shock of hair?—but we want the younger version. Squeeze this mustachioed Narcissus into a pair of skinny jeans and he’ll practically bleed hipster irony.

#3: Jesse James

James, Jesse [Credit: MPI/Hulton Archive/Getty Images]Bad boys are always in. Why not, then, avail ourselves of an actual outlaw? His refined bone structure and devil-may-care attitude might lend just the edge we need to make the fall line pop in the latest glossies. Of course, wrestling the trigger-happy bandit off of his horse and into the time warp is going to be a bit of a trial.

#4: Shaka


Shaka [Credit: Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd.]Though this Zulu chief’s lifestyle may say “ruthless,” his abs say “swimsuit season.” If we can convince him to trade his loincloth for some Lycra shorts—and keep him from spearing the stylist—we’ve found the face of the resort collection.

#5: Johannes Brahms


Brahms, Johannes: 1853 [Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.]Comfortable in the higher echelons of society, this composer could certainly rock a suit. And some major hair.

#6: Lord Byron


Byron, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron [Credit: © Photos.com/Thinkstock]Though his predilections for narcotics and general shenanigans would make him a liability in the high-stakes world of haute couture, his pouty good looks might be worth the risk. That brooding countenance could be just the one on which to hang the latest shades.

#7: Sir Walter Raleigh


Raleigh, Sir Walter [Credit: Mansell Collection—Time Life Pictures/Getty Images]No stranger to high fashion, the English explorer could easily be the fresh face of the season with his cupid’s-bow lips and sensitive eyes. After a bath and a good delousing, of course. You know those Elizabethans.

#8: Montezuma


Cortés, Hernán, marqués del Valle de Oaxaca: Montezuma II being held captive by Cortés [Credit: Photos.com/Thinkstock]Time for this Aztec emperor to avenge himself in a way that doesn’t entail restricting tourists to bottled water. How better to stick it to Western expansion than by appearing in air-brushed splendor above Times Square, attired only in the latest intimate apparel? OK, so there are probably better ways, but really, when traveler’s diarrhea is named after you, anything’s an improvement.
#9: Shah Jahān

#9: Shah Jahān


Shah Jahān [Credit: © Ronald Sheridan/Ancient Art & Architecture Collection]With an unparalleled collection of gems, Shah Jahān was the Elizabeth Taylor of his day. Accustomed to festooning himself and his wives with sparkly things, he’s a shoo-in to model the latest jewelry line. A little moonlighting might be just what he needs to distract himself from the death of wife Mumtāz Maḥal .

#10: Augustus Caesar


Augustus [Credit: Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum]Though the promise of a lucrative contract shilling designer duds might not be enough to coax Octavian into giving up the Roman empire and stepping into our fashion time warp, with those chiseled cheekbones, it’d sure be worth a try. He certainly posed for enough statues.

#11: Alexander the Great


Alexander the Great: portrait coin [Credit: Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd.]Alexander was a practitioner of the ultimate extreme workout: empire building. Hand-to-hand combat is great for building muscle mass. Given that the Macedonians weren’t known for their prudery, “the Great” probably wouldn’t have too much of a problem offering some of his rippling bronzed flesh up to the lens in the name of the new skin care line. Right?

9 Diagnoses by Charles Dickens

Dickens, Charles [Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images]English novelist Charles Dickens had a knack for expertly portraying the symptoms of medical conditions. He also had a tendency to slip those descriptions into his works in subtle terms, such that historians and physicians have made it something of a hobby to interpret them medically and attempt to diagnose afflicted characters. In some cases, Dickens’s descriptions actually predated those offered by medical doctors, revealing his skill for observation. “Dickensian diagnoses” ascribed to nine of the novelist’s characters are explored in this list.

1. Miss Mowcher


“David Copperfield”: first edition illustration by Browne [Credit: © Photos.com/Thinkstock]Dwarfism

Also in David Copperfield, readers encounter a character affected by dwarfism, the hairdresser Miss Mowcher. Unlike the sinister Heep, Miss Mowcher is a heroine. However, Dickens seems to have initially portrayed the hairdresser as immoral, a notion that was strongly disapproved by his neighbour at the time, Mrs. Jane Seymour Hill, a dwarf herself. Hill appears to have threatened to sue Dickens over the matter, which might explain Miss Mowcher’s redeeming qualities. The character ultimately came to be recognized as a symbol for the rights of the disabled and is representative of the novelist’s inclination to bestow decency upon his poor or enfeebled characters.

2. Uriah Heep


Heep, Uriah; <em>David Copperfield</em> [Credit: The Print Collector/Heritage-Images]Dystonia

“He had a way of writhing when he wanted to express enthusiasm, which was very ugly.”

“Writhing” was used frequently by Dickens in his descriptions of the villain Uriah Heep in David Copperfield. Heep’s constant wriggling and twisting has been interpreted by some as indicative of the physical disorder known as dystonia. Dystonia is characterized by repetitive movements resulting from the involuntary contraction of muscles. The unusual twisting movements and postures associated with dystonia can be socially disturbing, for sufferers and observers alike, which Dickens captured well.

As Miss Trotwood exclaims in Heep’s presence, “If you’re an eel, Sir, conduct yourself like one. If you’re a man, control your limbs, Sir! Good God!”

3. Bradley Headstone


<em>Our Mutual Friend</em> [Credit: From <e>Our Mutual Friend</e> by Charles Dickens (The Continental Press, New York)]Epilepsy

“You are quite ill, Mr. Headstone!”

“It is not much, sir. It will pass over very soon. I am accustomed to be seized with giddiness.”

Bradley Headstone, the schoolmaster in Our Mutual Friend, is thought to have suffered from epilepsy. Indeed, his being “seized with giddiness” likely represented a seizure. Headstone was not alone among Dickens characters in his condition. Monks, a sinister and sickly character in Oliver Twist, and Guster, a maid in Bleak House, were prone to “fits” as well. Some have speculated that Dickens himself may have been afflicted by epilepsy or a similar condition, which would have given him thorough insight into the disorder. The claim, however, remains unsubstantiated.

4. Joe the Fat Boy


Pickwick, Samuel [Credit: © Photos.com/Thinkstock]Obesity hypoventilation syndrome

In The Pickwick Papers, Dickens described “…a boy—a wonderfully fat boy…standing upright on the mat, with his eyes closed as if in sleep.”

It is a classic description of what is now known as Pickwickian syndrome, or obesity hypoventilation syndrome. While its primary physical features, obesity and atypical daytime drowsiness, appear to have been described prior to Dickens’s portrayal of Joe the fat boy, the first reference to the syndrome in relation to the novel appears to have made later, in the early 1900s, by Canadian physician Sir William Osler in an edition of his textbook The Principles and Practice of Medicine. The name Pickwickian syndrome entered into popular use more than a century after The Pickwick Papers was published in book form (1837).

5. Arthur Havisham


Havisham, Miss [Credit: © 1946 Universal International Pictures; photograph from a private collection]Delirium tremens

“There was another in with Compeyson, as was called Arthur…He was in a decline, and was a shadow to look at.”

In Great Expectations, with the character Arthur Havisham, Dickens again demonstrates his knowledge of the consequences of addiction, namely its tendency to lead to physical and mental deterioration. Arthur suffered specifically from “the horrors,” which physicians have equated with delirium tremens, a condition brought on by alcohol withdrawal and often seen in people who suffer from chronic alcoholism. As its name suggests, defining features of the condition include changes in mental state (“delirium”) and shaking or shivering (“tremens”). Arthur suffers from both, as Dickens describes succinctly in the novel, making for a subtle yet intriguing treasure among Dickensian diagnoses.

6. Jack Jasper


“Jasper’s Sacrifices,” an illustration from <em>The Mystery of Edwin Drood</em> [Credit: From <e>The Mystery of Edwin Drood</e> by Charles Dickens (Chapman and Hall, 1914)]Drug addiction

In The Mystery of Edwin Drood, choirmaster Jack (John) Jasper, in the grips of opium, dreams his darkest desire—to strangle his nephew, Edwin Drood—an act that the opium addict ultimately seeks to realize. While still a mystery, some psychologists suspect that dreams, particularly those associated with drug use, may represent the origin of a craving or desire, such as for food or sex. Perhaps of significance, then, was Jasper’s love for Rosa Bud, Drood’s fiancée, which may have driven Jasper to kill Drood (though, the identity of the person responsible for Drood’s disappearance is unknown; the author died before completing the novel). Thus, Dickens appears to have been spot-on in his portrayal of dreams, desire, and what is now a recognized medical condition—addiction.

7. Mr. Krook


“Bleak House” [Credit: © Photos.com/Thinkstock]Dyslexia

“He can make all the letters separately and he knows most of them separately when he sees them…but he can’t put them together.”

That was how Dickens described the reading ability of shopkeeper Mr. Krook in Bleak House. Some have postulated that it might have been the first written description of dyslexia, and if that is the case, then Dickens penned it some three decades before the term itself reached the medical literature. Krook also suffered from alcohol dependency and died a most unusual death, having spontaneously combusted.

8. Tiny Tim


Tiny Tim; <em>A Christmas Carol</em> [Credit: Getty Images/Thinkstock]Vitamin D deficiency

Whatever it was that ailed Scrooge, his visions in A Christmas Carol may have saved Tiny Tim Cratchit’s life. Indeed, Scrooge was warned, “If these shadows remain unchanged, I see an empty chair where Tiny Tim once sat.” With this, Dickens suggests that if Scrooge were to be generous—to, for instance, raise Bob Cratchit’s wages—then the family would be able to afford more food. And, more important, they might have been able to buy fish oil, which, if modern-day physicians are correct in their assertions that Tiny Tim suffered from vitamin D deficiency, would have helped strengthen the boy’s crippled legs. Why Tiny Tim may have lacked vitamin D is uncertain, though the condition may have been caused by renal tubular acidosis or rickets, or even by a combination of rickets and tuberculosis, which were common among London’s children in the 19th century.

9. Ebenezer Scrooge


“Christmas Carol, A” [Credit: © Photos.com/Thinkstock]Fungus poisoning

On Christmas Eve in A Christmas Carol, miser Ebenezer Scrooge relives his past and has visions of the present and future in a series of vivid hallucinations. The following day, as detailed by Dickens, the mature-age (presumably 50-something) Scrooge was atypically generous and joyful. Scrooge’s complaint of indigestion on the night of the visions has been interpreted by some as evidence of poisoning with the hallucinogenic fungus ergot, which once was a common contaminant of rye bread. Others have suggested that Scrooge may have experienced a stroke or been afflicted by dementia or brief psychotic disorder.

BBC’s Top 100 Best Novels


In April 2003, the Big Read began the search for the nation’s best-loved novels. Below are all the results from number 1 to 100!

(The link to the list can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/bigread/top100.shtml )

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

(Although it would be discouraged but you can download the e-books in this list here: http://www.allyoulike.com/42761/the-big-read-bbcs-top-100-best-novels-ebooks/ )

Top 10 Famous Philosophers.

This list examines the influence, depth of insight and wide-reaching interest across many subjects of various “lovers of wisdom,” and ranks them accordingly. It should be noted, first and foremost, that philosophy in its traditional sense was science – philosophers (like Aristotle) used rationality to come to scientific knowledge of the world around us. It was not until relatively modern times that philosophy was considered to be separate from the physical sciences.

10. John Locke



The most important thinker of modern politics is the most directly responsible for Thomas Jefferson’s rhetoric in the Declaration of Independence, and the rhetoric in the U. S. Constitution. Locke is referred to as the “Father of Liberalism,” because of his development of the principles of humanism and individual freedom, founded primarily by #1. It is said that liberalism proper, the belief in equal rights under the law, begins with Locke. He penned the phrase “government with the consent of the governed.” His three “natural rights,” that is, rights innate to all human beings, were and remain “life, liberty, and estate.”

He did not approve of the European idea of nobility enabling some to acquire land through lineage, while the poor remained poor. Locke is the man responsible, through Jefferson primarily, for the absence of nobility in America. Although nobility and birthrights still exist in Europe, especially among the few kings and queens left, the practice has all but vanished. The true democratic ideal did not arrive in the modern world until Locke’s liberal theory was taken up.

9. Epicurus


Epicurus has gotten a bit of an unfair reputation over the centuries as a teacher of self-indulgence and excess delight. He was soundly criticized by a lot of Christian polemicists (those who make war against all thought but Christian thought), especially during the Middle Ages, because he was thought to be an atheist, whose principles for a happy life were passed down to this famous set of statements: “Don’t fear god; don’t worry about death; what is good is easy to get; what is terrible is easy to endure.”

He advocated the principle of refusing belief in anything that is not tangible, including any god. Such intangible things he considered preconceived notions, which can be manipulated. You may think of Epicureanism as “no matter what happens, enjoy life, because you only get one and it doesn’t last long.” Epicurus’s idea of living happily centered on just treatment of others, avoidance of pain and living in such a way as to please oneself, but not to overindulge in anything.

He also advocated a version of the Golden Rule, “It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing ‘neither to harm nor be harmed’), and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life. “Wisely,” at least for Epicurus, would be avoidance of pain, danger, disease, etc.; “well” would be proper diet and exercise; “justly,” in the Golden Rule’s sense of not harming others because you do not want to be harmed.

8. Zeno of Citium



You may not be as familiar with him as with most of the others on this list, but Zeno founded the school of Stoicism. Stoicism comes from the Greek “stoa,” which is a roofed colonnade, especially that of the Poikile, which was a cloistered piazza on the north side of the Athenian marketplace, in the 3rd Century BC. Stoicism is based on the idea that anything which causes us to suffer in life is actually an error in our judgment, and that we should always have absolute control over our emotions. Rage, elation, depression are all simple flaws in a person’s reason, and thus, we are only emotionally weak when we allow ourselves to be. Put another way, the world is what we make of it.

Epicureanism is the usual school of thought considered the opposite of Stoicism, but today many people mistake one for the other or combine them. Epicureanism argues that displeasures do exist in life and must be avoided, in order to enter a state of perfect mental peace (ataraxia, in Greek). Stoicism argues that mental peace must be acquired out of your own will not to let anything upset you. Death is a necessity, so why feel depressed when someone dies? Depression doesn’t help. It only hurts. Why get enraged over something? The rage will not result in anything good. And so, in controlling one’s emotions, a state of mental peace is brought about. Of importance is to shun desire: you may strive for what you need, but only that and nothing more. What you want will lead to excess, and excess doesn’t help, but hurts.

7. Avicenna



His full name is Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā, the last two words of which were Latinized into the more common form in Western history. He lived in the Persian Empire from c. 980 AD to 1037. The Dark Ages were not so dark. Aside from his stature as a philosopher, he was also the world’s preeminent physician during his life. His two most well known works today are The Book of Healing (which has nothing to do with physical medicine) and The Canon of Medicine, which was his compilation of all known medical knowledge at that time.

Influenced primarily by #1, his Book of Healing deals with everything from logic, to math, to music, to science. He proposed in it that Venus is closer than the Sun to Earth. Imagine not knowing that for a fact. The Sun looks a lot closer than Venus, but he got it right. He rejected astrology as a true science, since everything in it is based on conjecture, not evidence. He theorized that some fluid deep underground was responsible for the fossilization of bone and wood, arguing that “a powerful mineralizing and petrifying virtue which arises in certain stony spots, or emanates suddenly from the earth during earthquake and subsidences…petrifies whatever comes into contact with it. As a matter of fact, the petrifaction of the bodies of plants and animals is not more extraordinary than the transformation of waters.”

This is not correct, but it’s closer than you might believe. Petrifaction can occur in any organic material, and involves the material, most notably wood, being impregnated by silica deposits, gradually changing from its original materials into stone. Avicenna is the first to describe the five classical senses: taste, touch, vision, hearing and smell. He may have been the world’s first systematic psychologist, in a time when people suffering from a mental disorder were said to be possessed by demons. Avicenna argued that there were somatic possibilities for recovery inherent in all aspects of a person’s body, including the brain.

John Stuart Mill’s five methods for inductive logic stem mostly from Avicenna, who first expounded on three of them: agreement, difference and concomitant variation. It would take too long to explain them in this list, but they are all forms of syllogisms, and every philosopher and student of philosophy is familiar with them from the beginning of education in the subject. They are critical to the scientific method, and whenever someone forms a statement as a syllogism, s/he is using at least one of the methods.

6. Thomas Aquinas



Thomas will forever be remembered as the guy who supposedly proved the existence of God by arguing that the Universe had to have been created by something, since everything in existence has a beginning and an end. This is now referred to as the “First Cause” argument, and all philosophers after Thomas have wrestled with proving or disproving the theory. He actually based it on the notion of “ού κινούμενον κινεῖ,” of #1. The Greek means “one who moves while not moving” – or “the unmoved mover”.

Thomas founded everything he postulated firmly in Christianity, and for this reason, he is not universally popular, today. Even Christians consider that, since he derived all his ethical teachings from the Bible, Thomas is not independently authoritative of any of those teachings. But his job, in teaching the common people around him, was to get them to understand ethics without all the abstract philosophy. He expounded on #2′s principles of what we now call “cardinal virtues:” justice, courage, prudence and temperance. He was able to reach the masses with this simple, four-part instruction.

He made five famous arguments for the existence of God, which are still discussed hotly on both sides: theist and atheist. Of those five, which he intended to define the nature of God, one is called “the unity of God,” which is to say that God is not divisible. He has essence and existence, and these two qualities cannot be separated. Thus, if we are able to express something as possessing two or more qualities, and cannot separate the qualities, then the statement itself proves that there is a God, and Thomas’s example is the statement, “God exists,” in which statement subject and predicate are identical.

5. Confucius



Master Kong Qiu, as his name translates from Chinese, lived from 551 to 479 BC, and remains the most important single philosopher in Eastern history. He espoused significant principles of ethics and politics, in a time when the Greeks were espousing the same things. We think of democracy as a Greek invention, a Western idea, but Confucius wrote in his Analects that “the best government is one that rules through ‘rites’ and the people’s natural morality, rather than by using bribery and coercion. This may sound obvious to us today, but he wrote it in the early 500s to late 400s BC. It is the same principle of democracy that the Greeks argued for and developed: the people’s morality is in charge; therefore, rule by the people.

Confucius defended the idea of an Emperor, but also advocated limitations to the emperor’s power. The emperor must be honest and his subjects must respect him, but he must also deserve that respect. If he makes a mistake, his subjects must offer suggestions to correct him, and he must consider them. Any ruler who acted contrary to these principles was a tyrant, and thus a thief more than a ruler.

Confucius also devised his own, independent version of the Golden Rule, which had existed for at least a century in Greece before him. His phrasing was almost identical, but then furthered the idea: “What one does not wish for oneself, one ought not to do to anyone else; what one recognizes as desirable for oneself, one ought to be willing to grant to others.” The first statement is in the negative, and constitutes a passive desire not to harm others. The second statement is much more important, constituting an active desire to help others. The only other philosopher of antiquity to advocate the Golden Rule in the positive form is Jesus of Nazareth.

4. Rene Descartes



Descartes lived from 1596 to 1650, and today he is referred to as “the Father of Modern Philosophy.” He created analytical geometry, based on his now immortal Cartesian coordinate system, immortal in the sense that we are all taught it in school, and that it is still perfectly up-to-date in almost all branches of mathematics. Analytical geometry is the study of geometry using algebra and the Cartesian coordinate system. He discovered the laws of refraction and reflection. He also invented the superscript notation still used today to indicate the powers of exponents.

He advocated dualism, which is very basically defined as the power of the mind over the body: strength is derived by ignoring the weaknesses of the human physique and relying on the infinite power of the human mind. Descartes’s most famous statement, now practically the motto of existentialism: “Je pense donc je suis;” “Cogito, ergo sum;” “I think, therefore I am.” This is not meant to prove the existence of one’s body. Quite the opposite, it is meant to prove the existence of one’s mind. He rejected perception as unreliable, and considered deduction the only reliable method for examining, proving and disproving anything.

He also adhered to the Ontological Argument for the Existence of a Christian God, stating that, because God is benevolent, Descartes can have some faith in the account of reality his senses provide him, for God has provided him with a working mind and sensory system and does not desire to deceive him. From this supposition, however, Descartes finally establishes the possibility of acquiring knowledge about the world based on deduction and perception. In terms of the study of knowledge therefore, he can be said to have contributed such ideas as a rigorous conception of foundationalism (basic beliefs) and the possibility that reason is the only reliable method of attaining knowledge.

3. Paul of Tarsus



The wild card of this list, but give him fair consideration. Paul accomplished more with the few letters we have of his, to various churches in Asia Minor, Israel and Rome, than any other mortal person in the Bible, except Jesus himself. Jesus founded Christianity. But without Paul, the religion would have died in a few hundred years at best, or remained too insular to invite the entire world into its faith, as Jesus wanted.

Paul had more than one falling out with Peter, primarily among the other Disciples. Peter insisted that at least one or two of the Jewish traditions remain as requirements, along with faith in Jesus, for one to be counted as Christian. Paul insisted that faith in Jesus is all that is required, and neither circumcision, refusal of certain foods or any other Jewish custom was necessary, because the world was now, and forevermore, under a state of Grace in Jesus, not a state of Law according to Moses. This principle of a state of grace, which is now central to all sects of Christianity, was Paul’s idea (if not Jesus’s), as was the concept of God’s moral law (in Ten Commandments) being innately understood by all men once they reach the age of reason, by which law God will hold all men accountable on his Day of Judgment.

He is especially impressive to have systematized these principles flawlessly, having never met Jesus in person, and in direct opposition to Peter and several other Disciples. Many theologists and experts on Christianity and its history even call Paul, and not Jesus, the founder of Christianity. That may be going a bit too far, but keep in mind that the Disciples intended to keep Christianity for themselves, as the proper form of Judaism, to which only Jews could convert. Anyone could symbolically become a Jew by circumcision and obedience of the Mosaic Laws (every one of them, not just the Big Ten). Paul argued against this, stating that as Christ was the absolute greatest good that the world would ever see, and Almighty because he and the Father are one, then the grace of Christ is sufficiently powerful to save anyone from his or her sin, whether Jewish, Gentile or anything else. If the religion were to have lasted to present day without Paul’s letters championing the grace of Christ over the Law of Moses, Christianity would just a minor sect of Judaism.

2. Plato



Plato lived from c. 428 to c. 348 BC, and founded the Western world’s first school of higher education, the Academy of Athens. Almost all of Western philosophy can be traced back to Plato, who was taught by Socrates, and preserved through his own writings, some of Socrates’s ideas. If Socrates wrote anything down, it has not survived directly. Plato and Xenophon, another of his students, recounted a lot of his teachings, as did the playwright Aristophanes.

One of Plato’s most famous quotations concerns politics, “Until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize, that is, until political power and philosophy entirely coincide, while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so, cities will have no rest from evils…nor, I think, will the human race.” What he means is that any person(s) in control of a nation or city or city-state must be wise, and that if they are not, then they are ineffectual rulers. It is only through philosophy that the world can be free of evils. Plato’s preferred government was one of benevolent aristrocrats, those born of nobility, who are well educated and good, who help the common people to live better lives. He argued against democracy proper, rule by the people themselves, since in his view, a democracy had murdered his teacher, Socrates.

Plato’s most enduring theory, if not his political theories, is that of “The Forms.” Plato wrote about these forms throughout many of his works, and asserted, by means of them, that immaterial abstractions possess the highest, most fundamental kind of reality. All things of the material world can change, and our perception of them also, which means that the reality of the material world is weaker, less defined than that of the immaterial abstractions. Plato argued that something must have created the Universe. Whatever it is, the Universe is its offspring, and we, living on Earth, our bodies and everything that we see and hear and touch around us, are less real than the creator of the Universe, and the Universe itself. This is a foundation on which #4 based his understanding of existentialism.

1. Aristotle



Aristotle topped another of this lister’s lists, heading the category of philosophy, so his rank on this one is not entirely surprising. But consider that Aristotle is the first to have written systems by which to understand and criticize everything from pure logic to ethics, politics, literature, even science. He theorized that there are four “causes”, or qualities, of any thing in existence: the material cause, which is what the subject is made of; the formal cause, or the arrangement of the subject’s material; the effective cause, the creator of the thing; and the final cause, which is the purpose for which a subject exists.

That all may sound perfectly obvious and not worth arguing over, but since it would take far too long for the purpose of a top ten list to expound on classical causality, suffice to say that all philosophers since Aristotle have had something to say on the matter, and absolutely everything that has been said, and perhaps can be said, is, or must be, based on Aristotle’s system of it: it is impossible to discuss causality without using or trying to debunk Aristotle’s ideas.

Aristotle is also the first person in Western history to argue that there is a hierarchy to all life in the Universe; that because Nature never did anything unnecessary as he observed, then in the same way, this animal is in charge of that animal, and likewise with plants and animals together. His so-called “ladder of life” has eleven rungs, at the top of which are humans. The Medieval Christian theorists ran with this idea, extrapolating it to the hierarchy of God with Man, including angels. Thus, the angelic hierarchy of Catholicism, usually thought as a purely Catholic notion, stems from Aristotle, who lived and died before Jesus was born. Aristotle was, in fact, at the very heart of the classical education system used through the Medieval western world.

Aristotle had something to say on just about every subject, whether abstract or concrete, and modern philosophy almost always bases every single principle, idea, notion or “discovery” on a teaching of Aristotle. His principles of ethics were founded on the concept of doing good, rather than merely being good. A person may be kind, merciful, charitable, etc., but until he proves this by helping others, his goodness means precisely nothing to the world, in which case it means nothing to himself. We could go on about Aristotle, of course, but this list has gone on long enough. Honorable mentions are very many, so list them as you like.


10 of the hottest places on Earth

1. Dallol, Ethopia

Dallol, Ethiopia
Dallol, Ethiopia
This scorching hot town in the Afar Depression of Ethiopia holds the record for having the highest average annual temperature ever recorded. From 1960 to 1966, Dallol averaged 94 degrees Fahrenheit (daytime temperatures regularly rose to over 100 degrees). This number is an annual average, meaning that Dallol’s temperature dips only moderately throughout the year. There is almost never a break from the heat at any time of the year.
Dallol is a ghost town today, but back in the 1960s it was a mining settlement. Its modern attractions include the fascinating hydrothermal deposits like those shown here. It’s also interesting to note that the Afar Depression, where Dallol is located, is a volcanically active region, not far from a volcano of the same name. So the heat must seem to come from every direction here: from the sun above, and bubbling up from the ground below.
2. Tirat Zvi, IsraelTirat Zvi is a religious kibbutz in Israel that sits in the Beit She’an Valley, 722 feet below sea level. Though the nearby Jordan River keeps the region fertile, the valley can get pummeled by the sun in the summer months. In June 1942, the settlement recorded the highest temperature ever officially measured in Asia: 129 degrees Fahrenheit.3. Timbuktu, Mali

Timbuktu’s history is a rich and storied one. Sitting at the crossroads of ancient Saharan trade routes, the city was once a thriving center of scholarship and central to the spread of Islam throughout Africa. Though it still retains a stable population, as well as one of the world’s greatest collections of ancient manuscripts, Timbuktu is slowly being overtaken by the encroaching Sahara Desert. Desertification is a major concern here, as great dunes loom over the city and the streets are frequently buried in windswept sand.
Temperatures can also soar here, and have been recorded reaching in excess of 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The good news is that the cooling waters of the Niger River are only about 15 miles away.
Timbuktu, Mali
4. Kebili, Tunisia

A desert oasis in central Tunisia, Kebili is ironically where people go to escape the North African heat. At least here, there are palm trees to provide shade, and water to cool off in. Even so, Kebili is no stranger to high temperatures: The mercury has topped out at over 131 degrees, some of the highest ever recorded in Africa.
The town is picturesque, though, and worth a visit in spite of its extreme climate. People have lived here for almost as long as modern humans have walked the Earth: There is hard evidence that Kebili was inhabited as long as 200,000 years ago.
Kebili, Tunisia
5. Rub’ al Khali, Arabian Peninsula

The largest continuous sand desert in the world, the Rub’ al Khali covers about a third of the Arabian Peninsula, an area that includes Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. Understandably, it gets hot here. Hot, and dry. High temperatures have been recorded at 133 degrees, and there is no respite for the thirsty: Typical annual rainfall is less than 1.2 inches.
Rub' al Khali
6. El Azizia, Libya
El Azizia, Libya
7. Death Valley

Death Valley is one of the Hottest Places on Earth

Death Valley shown above, is a  3.3-million-acre desert wilderness along the California-Nevada state line, where a sweltering July day in 1913 reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit, setting a record that still stands today.

Here, some of the hottest weather on the planet lives side-by-side with mountains whose peaks are often covered in snow.

8. Flaming Mountains, China

The Flaming Mountains, located in the Tian Shan Mountain range of Xinjiang, China, likely were named for striking gullies that have been eroded into the red sandstone bedrock, resembling a flame. But the name is also apt for another reason: These mountains are sizzling hot.
Though there is not a weather station located here to measure temperature directly, a NASA satellite equipped with a moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, or MODIS — a device capable of measuring land surface temperatures from space — recorded one of the highest temperatures ever measured: 152.2 degrees. The reading, recorded in 2008, was the hottest measurement on Earth that year.
 Flaming Mountains, China
9. Australia’s Badlands

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on Earth, and much of its interior Outback is a vast desert. Scorching temperatures are known here, especially during periods of drought when there is little cloud cover to shelter the hot sands from the sun’s relentless rays. In 2003 — a year of particularly severe drought due to the 2002 El Niño-Southern Oscillation — a NASA satellite equipped with MODIS picked up a land surface temperature of 156.7 degrees Fahrenheit
Badlands of Australia
10. Dasht-e Lut, Iran

Dasht-e Lut, Iran
Here it is: the hottest place on Earth. Iran’s Lut Desert, an area so parched and desolate that no one is around to regularly monitor temperatures. (What a dreadful job that would be.)
Though maintaining a weather station is impractical in the Lut, a NASA satellite equipped with a moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) was able to measure temperatures here from space, during a seven-year study. In five of those years — 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009 — the hottest spot on Earth could be found in the Lut. In 2005, a temperature of 159.3 degrees Fahrenheit was measured, the highest reading ever officially confirmed for a location on Earth.