Who are you?
Hi there, I’m Abhishek. I’m a designer based out of Mumbai, India. I’m also the guy behind Coffee & Junk.
What is Coffee & Junk about?
Coffee & Junk is my blog where I write about the psychology of human misbehaviour. The central question I’m trying to answer through my work is: How can we live smarter in a world we do not fully understand?
Coffee & Junk is my attempt to develop an understanding of how the world really works, make better decisions, and live a better life.
Here I address such topics as Behavioural Economics, Mental Models, Algorithmic Thinking, Cognitive Biases, Heuristics, Logical Fallacies, Rhetoric, and The Art of Persuasion—applied in Business and in Life.
I often delve into Philosophy, Design and Startups as well. If I've written about something, it's because I wanted to learn more about it. An organising philosophy of the blog is that we learn by writing. I learn best by taking notes of what I read.
I don’t get it. Explain like I’m five.
You think you are a rational being who sees the world as it really is. But in reality, you are deluded. But the good thing is that all of us are equally deluded.
You may think you know how the world works, but you really don’t. You move through life forming opinions and cobbling together a story about who you are and why you did the things you did.
The truth is that you have no clue why you act the way you do, choose the things you choose, or think the thoughts you think. Instead, you create narratives, little stories to explain away why you do what you do. You don’t even think clearly most of the time.
The failure to think clearly is called a cognitive error. It is a systematic deviation from logic—from optimal, rational, reasonable thought and behaviour. These are not just occasional errors in judgment. These are rather routine mistakes—barriers to logic you stumble over time and again.
It is much more common that you overestimate your knowledge than you underestimate it. Similarly, the danger of losing something stimulates you much more than the prospect of making a similar gain. In the presence of other people you tend to adjust your behaviour to theirs, not the opposite. And you are simply the best at interpreting all kinds of new information so that your prior conclusions remain intact.
Here I talk about these topics, and also make an attempt to dodge or exploit these traits to live a better life.
Do you eat your own dog food?
I don’t merely write about things. Along the way, I like to try out the concepts for myself as I experiment with finding ways to make better decisions as an entrepreneur, designer, and investor.
In the end, my work ends up being one-part storytelling, one-part academic research, one-part personal experiment. It’s a colourful blend of case studies, academic science, hard-earned wisdom.
The primary place that I share this information is through my weekly newsletter. Thousands of people receive my articles via email. You can sign up here.
You seem like someone with a lot of free time. How did you get started?
After a series of bad decisions when I finally had to shut down my previous company, I took a retreat and began studying human psychology—with a strong focus on biases that affect our cognition and sway us away from making logical decisions.
I started putting together notes on these cognitive errors. With time and effort, I began to recognise my own errors sooner and was able to change course before any lasting damage was done. And, for the first time in my life, I was able to recognise when others were in the thrall of these very same systematic errors.
However I didn’t stop there. I also delved into studying mental models to form a better understating of the how things work. I studied the psychology of persuasion and rhetoric to learn how to influence others and win arguments.
Couple of months back, after a friend’s suggestion, I started sharing them on the internet. That’s basically how I got started.
Are you like those get-smart-quick fellows I detest?
This is not at all in any form a how-to blog. There won’t be any “12 steps to error-free decisions” here. Cognitive errors are far too engrained to rid yourselves of them completely. Silencing them would require superhuman willpower, and that isn’t even a worthy goal. On top of that, not all cognitive errors are toxic, and some are even necessary for leading a good life.
My notes may not hold the key to happiness, but at the very least they act as insurance against too much self-induced unhappiness.
What happens with the money I pledge?
Oh I’m so glad that you wish to pledge. The easiest way is to head to my Patreon page.
The money you pledge to Coffee & Junk goes into research—buying books and journals, interviewing researchers, psychologists, business people, and in creating case studies.
My goal is to make this project self-sustainable so that I can devote a significant amount of time into it.
Ok, any disclaimer you wish to share?
The only thing you need to keep in mind is that I am not a social scientist. I don’t have my own lab where I can conduct experiments, nor do I have a staff of researchers I can dispatch to scout for behavioural errors.
I read a lot of books, articles, journals, and take down detailed notes. I also work with startups as a behaviour design consultant. I draw most of my experiences from that. I rather think of myself as a translator whose job is to interpret and synthesise what I’ve read, learnt, and experienced—and put them in terms that can be easily understood.
My great respect goes to the researchers—especially the works of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. I also draw heavily from the scholarly works of Robert Cialdini, Richard Thaler, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
You call your website Coffee & Junk, really?
Yeah I know. Let’s not talk about it.
Great, where do I subscribe?
Thanks for your interest. Simply head over here to subscribe.