Sharpen Your Thinking with These 10 Powerful Cognitive Razors
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Sharpen Your Thinking with These 10 Powerful Cognitive Razors

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10 powerful rules of thumb to sharpen your thinking

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Improve Your Decision-Making with These 10 Cognitive Razors

The average adult makes about 35,000 conscious decisions each day.

Given this sheer volume of choice, how do we ensure we’re making the right decisions, day in and day out, without becoming exhausted?

Using insights from investor and thought leader Sahil Bloom, this graphic shares 10 cognitive razors, or rules of thumb, that can help you simplify your decision-making.

We’ve organized Bloom’s favorite cognitive razors into three overarching categories, which we dive into in further detail below.

Location, Location, Location

The first theme is location, and the importance of being at the right place at the right time.

The Luck Razor falls into this category because it highlights the importance of putting yourself out there. According to the Luck Razor, when choosing between two paths, pick the one with the largest “luck surface area,” or the path that offers you the most opportunity to get lucky.

This is because when you’re networking, meeting people, and building new relationships, you’re much more likely to stumble upon an opportunity than if you were sitting on your couch, not taking action.

The Rooms Razor follows a similar theme because it emphasizes the importance of your surroundings. It stresses that, if you have a choice between two rooms to walk into, choose the one where you’re most likely to be the dumbest person in the room.

While it’s a bit of an uncomfortable situation, it provides a greater opportunity for growth, as long as you check your ego at the door and listen to what others have to say.

Lastly, the Arena Razor reminds us that when we want something, we need to take the necessary steps to make it happen.

For instance, if you want to become a social media influencer, you need to start creating content and posting it online. It’s not easy to put yourself out there and take action, but if you want to play the game, you need to be in the arena.

The Power of Positive Thinking

The next theme is the power of mindset and positive thinking. This relates to how you view your life, the people you choose to surround yourself with, and how you interpret the actions and opinions of others.

According to the Gratitude Razor, when in doubt, don’t hesitate to show your gratitude to people who have supported you, or given you advice or opportunities.

Research studies have shown that expressing gratitude and giving thanks can be correlated with greater happiness, improved health, and stronger more meaningful relationships. So make sure to say thank you regularly, and tell your loved ones how much you appreciate their support.

It’s not just your mindset that’s important, though. The Optimist Razor recommends surrounding yourself with optimists, rather than pessimists. Pessimists may point out everything that could go wrong in a scenario, which might discourage you to break out of your comfort zone.

Optimism, on the other hand, will emphasize everything that could go right—and may even help you problem solve if you encounter problems along the way.

Keep Decision-Making Simple, Silly

The last one is quite simple, really: don’t overcomplicate things.

Occam’s Razor, which is named after the 14th-century scholar Franciscan friar William of Ockham, is generally interpreted as the following: when faced with a decision between two competing theories that generate the same outcome, the simplest theory is often the best one.

As Bloom says in this blog post, “simple assumptions [over] complex assumptions. If you have to believe a complex, intertwined series of assumptions in order to reach one specific conclusion, always ask whether there is a simple alternative assumption that fits.”

The ability to make things simple is also a good indicator of how deeply you understand something. According to the Feynman Razor, if you can’t explain a concept simply, then you don’t really understand it. So, if someone uses a ton of jargon or complexity to explain something, they could be masking a lack of deeper knowledge on the topic.

Editor’s note: For more information on cognitive razors and simplifying your decision-making, check out Sahil Bloom’s newsletter, or listen to his podcast episode where he talks about the most powerful razors he’s discovered so far in life.

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Demographics

Where Will the World’s Next 1,000 Babies Be Born?

This graphic paints a picture of the world’s population, showing which countries are most likely to welcome the next 1,000 babies.

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Where Will the World’s Next 1,000 Babies Be Born?

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Every four minutes, approximately 1,000 babies are born across the globe. But in which countries are these babies the most statistically likely to come from?

Using data from the CIA World Factbook, this graphic by Pratap Vardhan (Stats of India) paints a picture of the world’s demographics, showing which countries are most likely to welcome the next 1,000 babies based on population and birth rates as of 2022 estimates.

The Next 1,000 Babies, By Country

Considering India has a population of nearly 1.4 billion, it’s fairly unsurprising that it ranks first on the list. Of every 1,000 babies born, the South Asian country accounts for roughly 172 of them.

PlaceRegionBirths Per 1,000 Global Babies
🇮🇳​ IndiaAsia171.62
🇨🇳 ChinaAsia102.84
🇳🇬 NigeriaAfrica56.50
🇵🇰 PakistanAsia47.23
🇨🇩 Congo, Democratic Republic of theAfrica31.90
🇮🇩 IndonesiaAsia31.20
🇺🇸 United StatesAmericas30.42
🇪🇹 EthiopiaAfrica25.44
🇧🇷 BrazilAmericas22.27
🇧🇩 BangladeshAsia21.52
🇵🇭 PhilippinesAsia18.75
🇪🇬 EgyptAfrica16.98
🇹🇿 TanzaniaAfrica15.61
🇺🇬 UgandaAfrica13.89
🇲🇽 MexicoAmericas12.85
🇻🇳 VietnamAsia11.96
🇸🇩 SudanAfrica11.79
🇰🇪 KenyaAfrica10.82
🇦🇴 AngolaAfrica10.68
🇦🇫 AfghanistanAsia9.98
🇷🇺 RussiaEurope9.85
🇮🇷 IranAsia9.73
🇲🇿 MozambiqueAfrica8.72
🇹🇷 TurkeyAsia8.71
🇳🇪 NigerAfrica8.46
🇿🇦 South AfricaAfrica7.84
🇨🇲 CameroonAfrica7.65
🇮🇶 IraqAsia7.34
🇬🇭 GhanaAfrica6.94
🇲🇲 MyanmarAsia6.90
🇯🇵 JapanAsia6.34
🇲🇱 MaliAfrica6.25
🇩🇿 AlgeriaAfrica6.01
🇨🇮 Cote d'IvoireAfrica5.97
🇲🇬 MadagascarAfrica5.93
🇫🇷 FranceEurope5.85
🇩🇪 GermanyEurope5.62
🇾🇪 YemenAsia5.61
🇨🇴 ColombiaAmericas5.48
🇧🇫 Burkina FasoAfrica5.41
🇬🇧 United KingdomEurope5.37
🇹🇩 ChadAfrica5.34
🇦🇷 ArgentinaAmericas5.29
🇹🇭 ThailandAsia5.19
🇿🇲 ZambiaAfrica5.03
🇲🇦 MoroccoAfrica4.70
🇲🇼 MalawiAfrica4.27
🇧🇯 BeninAfrica4.16
🇸🇳 SenegalAfrica4.15
🇵🇪 PeruAmericas4.08
🇳🇵 NepalAsia3.95
🇻🇪 VenezuelaAmericas3.78
🇸🇦 Saudi ArabiaAsia3.69
🇿🇼 ZimbabweAfrica3.67
🇲🇾 MalaysiaAsia3.62
🇸🇾 SyriaAsia3.60
🇺🇿 UzbekistanAsia3.55
🇬🇳 GuineaAfrica3.47
🇸🇴 SomaliaAfrica3.45
🇧🇮 BurundiAfrica3.28
🇸🇸 South SudanAfrica3.19
🇮🇹 ItalyEurope3.12
🇬🇹 GuatemalaAmericas2.90
🇺🇦 UkraineEurope2.88
🇨🇦 CanadaAmericas2.85
🇰🇵 Korea, NorthAsia2.71
🇰🇷 Korea, SouthAsia2.63
🇷🇼 RwandaAfrica2.56
🇪🇸 SpainEurope2.47
🇵🇱 PolandEurope2.38
🇰🇭 CambodiaAsia2.37
🇦🇺 AustraliaOceania2.36
🇱🇰 Sri LankaAsia2.35
🇰🇿 KazakhstanAsia2.19
🇪🇨 EcuadorAmericas2.09
🇸🇱 Sierra LeoneAfrica2.06
🇵🇬 Papua New GuineaOceania2.04
🇹🇬 TogoAfrica1.99
🇯🇴 JordanAsia1.82
🇭🇹 HaitiAmericas1.76
🇨🇱 ChileAmericas1.73
🇧🇴 BoliviaAmericas1.65
🇱🇷 LiberiaAfrica1.44
🇩🇴 Dominican RepublicAmericas1.42
🇳🇱 NetherlandsEurope1.40
🇹🇯 TajikistanAsia1.39
🇨🇫 Central African RepublicAfrica1.31
🇨🇬 Congo, Republic of theAfrica1.30
🇹🇼 TaiwanAsia1.28
🇹🇳 TunisiaAfrica1.28
🇭🇳 HondurasAmericas1.24
🇪🇷 EritreaAfrica1.23
🇷🇴 RomaniaEurope1.19
🇱🇦 LaosAsia1.19
🇮🇱 IsraelAsia1.14
🇱🇾 LibyaAfrica1.13
🇦🇿 AzerbaijanAsia1.03
🇧🇪 BelgiumEurope0.95
🇵🇾 ParaguayAmericas0.88
🇰🇬 KyrgyzstanAsia0.87
🇸🇻 El SalvadorAmericas0.86
🇲🇷 MauritaniaAfrica0.86
🇸🇪 SwedenEurope0.83
🇨🇺 CubaAmericas0.82
🇦🇪 United Arab EmiratesAsia0.79
🇳🇮 NicaraguaAmericas0.76
🇹🇲 TurkmenistanAsia0.72
🇨🇿 CzechiaEurope0.68
🇨🇭 SwitzerlandEurope0.65
🇧🇾 BelarusEurope0.63
🇦🇹 AustriaEurope0.62
🇭🇺 HungaryEurope0.62
🇴🇲 OmanAsia0.61
🇵🇹 PortugalEurope0.60
🇬🇷 GreeceEurope0.59
🇵🇦 PanamaAmericas0.57
🇨🇷 Costa RicaAmericas0.55
🇬🇼 Guinea-BissauAfrica0.54
🇵🇸 West BankAsia0.54
🇬🇲 GambiaAfrica0.51
🇱🇧 LebanonAsia0.51
🇳🇦 NamibiaAfrica0.50
🇳🇴 NorwayEurope0.49
🇩🇰 DenmarkEurope0.49
🇮🇪 IrelandEurope0.48
🇳🇿 New ZealandOceania0.47
🇬🇦 GabonAfrica0.45
🇷🇸 SerbiaEurope0.44
🇭🇰 Hong KongAsia0.43
🇫🇮 FinlandEurope0.43
🇧🇬 BulgariaEurope0.41
🇵🇸 Gaza StripAsia0.41
🇰🇼 KuwaitAsia0.40
🇬🇪 GeorgiaAsia0.40
🇸🇬 SingaporeAsia0.39
🇲🇳 MongoliaAsia0.38
🇱🇸 LesothoAfrica0.37
🇬🇶 Equatorial GuineaAfrica0.37
🇸🇰 SlovakiaEurope0.36
🇧🇼 BotswanaAfrica0.36
🇯🇲 JamaicaAmericas0.33
🇹🇱 Timor-LesteAsia0.33
🇺🇾 UruguayAmericas0.32
🇦🇱 AlbaniaEurope0.29
🇭🇷 CroatiaEurope0.27
🇲🇩 MoldovaEurope0.25
🇦🇲 ArmeniaAsia0.24
🇧🇦 Bosnia and HerzegovinaEurope0.24
🇽🇰 KosovoEurope0.21
🇸🇿 EswatiniAfrica0.19
🇱🇹 LithuaniaEurope0.18
🇵🇷 Puerto RicoAmericas0.18
🇶🇦 QatarAsia0.17
🇲🇰 North MacedoniaEurope0.16
🇩🇯 DjiboutiAfrica0.16
🇰🇲 ComorosAfrica0.14
🇧🇭 BahrainAsia0.14
🇸🇮 SloveniaEurope0.13
🇱🇻 LatviaEurope0.12
🇸🇧 Solomon IslandsOceania0.12
🇫🇯 FijiOceania0.11
🇹🇹 Trinidad and TobagoAmericas0.11
🇧🇹 BhutanAsia0.10
🇨🇾 CyprusAsia0.10
🇬🇾 GuyanaAmericas0.10
🇲🇺 MauritiusAfrica0.09
🇨🇻 Cabo VerdeAfrica0.08
🇪🇪 EstoniaEurope0.08
🇸🇷 SurinameAmericas0.07
🇧🇿 BelizeAmericas0.06
🇧🇳 BruneiAsia0.06
🇱🇺 LuxembourgEurope0.06
🇲🇪 MontenegroEurope0.05
🇻🇺 VanuatuOceania0.05
🇸🇹 Sao Tome and PrincipeAfrica0.04
🇲🇻 MaldivesAsia0.04
🇲🇴 MacauAsia0.04
🇧🇸 Bahamas, TheAmericas0.04
🇮🇸 IcelandEurope0.03
🇲🇹 MaltaEurope0.03
🇳🇨 New CaledoniaOceania0.03
🇵🇫 French PolynesiaOceania0.03
🇼🇸 SamoaOceania0.03
🇧🇧 BarbadosAmericas0.02
🇬🇺 GuamOceania0.02
🇰🇮 KiribatiOceania0.02
🇹🇴 TongaOceania0.02
🇨🇼 CuracaoAmericas0.01
🇱🇨 Saint LuciaAmericas0.01
🇫🇲 Micronesia, Federated States ofOceania0.01
🇲🇭 Marshall IslandsOceania0.01
🇬🇩 GrenadaAmericas0.01
🇦🇬 Antigua and BarbudaAmericas0.01
🇦🇼 ArubaAmericas0.01
🇯🇪 JerseyEurope0.01
🇻🇨 Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesAmericas0.01
🇻🇮 Virgin IslandsAmericas0.01
🇸🇨 SeychellesAfrica0.01
🇩🇲 DominicaAmericas0.01
🇮🇲 Isle of ManEurope0.01
🇧🇲 BermudaAmericas0.01
🇲🇵 Northern Mariana IslandsOceania0.01
🇬🇱 GreenlandAmericas0.01
🇹🇨 Turks and Caicos IslandsAmericas0.01
🇫🇴 Faroe IslandsEurope0.01
🇦🇸 American SamoaOceania0.01
🇰🇾 Cayman IslandsAmericas0.01
🇰🇳 Saint Kitts and NevisAmericas0.00
🇬🇬 GuernseyEurope0.00
🇦🇩 AndorraEurope0.00
🇸🇽 Sint MaartenAmericas0.00
🇲🇫 Saint MartinAmericas0.00
🇻🇬 British Virgin IslandsAmericas0.00
🇬🇮 GibraltarEurope0.00
🇱🇮 LiechtensteinEurope0.00
🇸🇲 San MarinoEurope0.00
🇹🇻 TuvaluOceania0.00
🇵🇼 PalauOceania0.00
🇦🇮 AnguillaAmericas0.00
🇲🇨 MonacoEurope0.00
🇳🇷 NauruOceania0.00
🇼🇫 Wallis and FutunaOceania0.00
🇨🇰 Cook IslandsOceania0.00
🇸🇭 Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da CunhaAfrica0.00
🇧🇱 Saint BarthelemyAmericas0.00
🇲🇸 MontserratAmericas0.00
🇫🇰 Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)Americas0.00
🇵🇲 Saint Pierre and MiquelonAmericas0.00

It’s worth noting that, while India ranks number one on the list, the country’s birth rate (which is its total number of births in a year per 1,000 individuals) is actually slightly below the global average, at 16.8 compared to 17.7 respectively.

China, which comes second on the list, is similar to India, with a high population but relatively low birth rate as well. On the other hand, Nigeria, which ranks third on the list, has a birth rate that’s nearly double the global average, at 34.2.

Why is Nigeria’s birth rate so high?

There are various intermingling factors at play, but one key reason is the fact that Nigeria’s economy still is developing, and ranks 131st globally in terms of GDP per capita. Further, access to education for women is still not as widespread as it could be, and research shows that this is strongly correlated with higher birth rates.

The World’s Population Growth Rate is Declining

While there are hundreds of thousands of babies born around the world each day, it’s worth mentioning that the world’s overall population growth rate has actually been declining since the 1960s.

This is happening for a number of reasons, including:

  • Increased wealth around the world, which research has correlated with fewer births
  • Various government policies discouraging large families
  • The global shift from rural to urban living

By 2100, global population growth is expected to drop to 0.1%, which means we’ll essentially reach net-zero population growth.

This would increase our global median age even further, which poses a number of economic risks if countries don’t properly prepare for this demographic shift.

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Space

All the Contents of the Universe, in One Graphic

We explore the ultimate frontier: the composition of the entire known universe, some of which are still being investigated today.

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The Composition of the Universe

All the Contents of the Universe, in One Graphic

Scientists agree that the universe consists of three distinct parts: everyday visible (or measurable) matter, and two theoretical components called dark matter and dark energy.

These last two are theoretical because they have yet to be directly measured—but even without a full understanding of these mysterious pieces to the puzzle, scientists can infer that the universe’s composition can be broken down as follows:

ComponentValue    
Dark energy68%
Dark matter27%
Free hydrogen and helium4%
Stars0.5%
Neutrinos0.3%
Heavy elements0.03%

Let’s look at each component in more detail.

Dark Energy

Dark energy is the theoretical substance that counteracts gravity and causes the rapid expansion of the universe. It is the largest part of the universe’s composition, permeating every corner of the cosmos and dictating how it behaves and how it will eventually end.

Dark Matter

Dark matter, on the other hand, has a restrictive force that works closely alongside gravity. It is a sort of “cosmic cement” responsible for holding the universe together. Despite avoiding direct measurement and remaining a mystery, scientists believe it makes up the second largest component of the universe.

Free Hydrogen and Helium

Free hydrogen and helium are elements that are free-floating in space. Despite being the lightest and most abundant elements in the universe, they make up roughly 4% of its total composition.

Stars, Neutrinos, and Heavy Elements

All other hydrogen and helium particles that are not free-floating in space exist in stars.

Stars are one of the most populous things we can see when we look up at the night sky, but they make up less than one percent—roughly 0.5%—of the cosmos.

Neutrinos are subatomic particles that are similar to electrons, but they are nearly weightless and carry no electrical charge. Although they erupt out of every nuclear reaction, they account for roughly 0.3% of the universe.

Heavy elements are all other elements aside from hydrogen and helium.

Elements form in a process called nucleosynthesis, which takes places within stars throughout their lifetimes and during their explosive deaths. Almost everything we see in our material universe is made up of these heavy elements, yet they make up the smallest portion of the universe: a measly 0.03%.

How Do We Measure the Universe?

In 2009, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched a space observatory called Planck to study the properties of the universe as a whole.

Its main task was to measure the afterglow of the explosive Big Bang that originated the universe 13.8 billion years ago. This afterglow is a special type of radiation called cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR).

Temperature can tell scientists much about what exists in outer space. When investigating the “microwave sky”, researchers look for fluctuations (called anisotropy) in the temperature of CMBR. Instruments like Planck help reveal the extent of irregularities in CMBR’s temperature, and inform us of different components that make up the universe.

You can see below how the clarity of CMBR changes over time with multiple space missions and more sophisticated instrumentation.
CMBR Instruments

What Else is Out There?

Scientists are still working to understand the properties that make up dark energy and dark matter.

NASA is currently planning a 2027 launch of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, an infrared telescope that will hopefully help us in measuring the effects of dark energy and dark matter for the first time.

As for what’s beyond the universe? Scientists aren’t sure.

There are hypotheses that there may be a larger “super universe” that contains us, or we may be a part of one “island” universe set apart from other island multiverses. Unfortunately we aren’t able to measure anything that far yet. Unravelling the mysteries of the deep cosmos, at least for now, remains a local endeavor.

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