I am the Desert’s Penguin

“Who am I?” We were grappling with this ultimate question in Wadi Rum Desert. My answer was: I’m the penguin’s desert بطريق الصحراء. This started out as a joke, but upon reflection, I think I’m going to seriously adopt it as my symbol.

How does this symbol fit me?

Fetching fish is research. The desert is a place where a writer can find inspiration and discipline away from the distractions of modern-day life. As a logophile, I can connect with the heritage of the wordsmith Bedouins, for they are masters of the word.

The harshness of the desert stirs me to be steadfast in pursuing the truth. It stands in juxtaposition with the friendly playful nature of the penguin. The odd animal’s pace is heavy and somewhat hesitant.


The whole scene captures my fascination with paradox!

*to address the elephant in the room: I shaved my head as I was asking a friend to do something crazy so the suggestion was shaving my head. It’s a very uncharacteristic style for me.WhatsApp Image 2019-08-03 at 2.46.39 PM(1)


Books that influenced my thought

I already posted a shorter version of this on LinkedIn. This has more authors and names of books as it’s not restricted by space such as LinkedIn posts.

Your books shaped my thought! If you’re mentioned here, I wanted to thank you. Your book (and in some cases, books) left an imprint on my brain and heart. Perhaps I’ll get the chance to elaborate more  on how you influenced me through one-on-one correspondence (or a blog post), but I just wanted to acknowledge  you in this small way.

Top authors who nourished me with their books over the years (This is the more work-related list) .

Individual Differences (Talent /multiple intelligences etc/Flip paradox/ neurodiverity/personality)


Marcus Buckingham

StandOut 2.0

Ken Carbone


Philip Hathaway

The psychological elegance of talent

Thomas Armstrong

The Power of Neurodiversity

Edward R. Amend and James Webb

Misdiagnosis and dual diagnosis of gifted children

 Brock Eide and Fernette Eide

The Dyslexic Advantage

Mary-Dean Barringer, Craig Pohlman, Michele Robinson

Schools for All Kinds of Minds: Boosting Student Success by Embracing Learning Variation

 Steven Pfeiffer, Lisa Limburg-Weber, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius

Early Gifts: Recognizing and Nurturing Children’s Talents

Mel M.D. Levine

A Mind at a Time

Albert Bernsetien

Emotional vampires

Career choice and development; Job search

Warr and Clapperton

The Joy of Work?

Benjamin Todd

80,000 Hours: Find a fulfilling career that does good

Calvin Newport

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skill Trumps Passion

Margaret Lobenstine

The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life

Barbara Sher

Refuse To Choose! Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams

I could do anything if I only knew what it was

It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now: How To Create Your Second Life At Any Age

Jim Barret

Test Your Own Job Aptitude: Exploring Your Career Potential

Anita Houghton

Finding square holes

Richard Nelson Bolles

What color is your parachute?

Robert Greene


JDM/false perception

Dan Ariely

Predictably irrational, The upside of irrationality, The Honest Truth about Dishonesty

Robert Bartholomew

Outbreak (with Hillary Evans) and Hoaxes, Myths and Mania(with Benjamin Bradford)

Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

Mistakes were made but not by me


Chris Bailey

Productivity Project

David Allen

Getting Things Done

Tim Ferris

The 4-hour week

Internet Addiction

Nicholas Carr

The Shallows

Adam Alter


Gary Wilson

Your Brain on Porn

Health (Fitness and Light)

Michael Terman and Ian McMahan

Reset your inner Clock

Till Roennberg

Internal Time

Elena Rover

Chelsea Piers Solution


 Jon Hershfield

The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD

Jeffrey M. Schwartz

Brain Lock

Fiona, Challacombe, Victoria Bream Oldfield, Paul Salkovskis

Break Free from OCD


Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams,

Craft of Research (3rd ed.)

Allan Pease  Barbaraba Pease

The Definitive Book of Body Language

Gregory Hartley . Maryan Karinsch

The body language handbook

Walter Mischel

The Marshmallow Test


How to be an imperfectionist

Brene Brown

The Gifts of Imperfection

Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point


David and Goliath


Mark Manson

The subtle art of not giving a f*ck

Tim Hafford


Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence. Social Intelligence

 Roger Fisher and William L. Ury

Getting to Yes

Recommended Best Picks

Recommended Best Picks: Tangible items after research/curation/study/collection etc of the best picks in a specific field (Could be a book, assessment, resources, tool, video, pick, etc….)

Topic Examples of Best-Picks


How to be an Imperfectionist By Stephen Guise



Productivity The Productivity Project


Choosing a career 80000hours.org

The Joy of Work? (Clapperton & Warr)

Questionnaires of the book can be found under e-resources here








Assessments https://www.hmhco.com/classroom-solutions/assessment


The excel sheet that I created that I include the many other psychometric assessments that those 2 were chosen from can be accessed here.


Sleep https://cet.org/


Research Tools and Resources https://osintframework.com/







Activities https://www.exploratorium.edu/


Creativity http://www.creativitypool.com/forums/


JDM (Judgement and Decision-Making) https://advanced-hindsight.com/


Internet Addiction










Happiness and Positive Psych www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu





Why I named my blog Paradoxically Paradoxical? and a Proposed Slogan “Embrace the Cringe! Embrace the Fringe!”

Charlie Yoon Pixabay License Бесплатно для коммерческого использования Указание авторства не требуется
Photo by SBM on Pixabay. Pixabay License https://pixabay.com/images/id-527756/

This is to prove that I’m not using fancy phrases with no reason; It’s all calculated my friends (though I love fancy phrases and I might be guilty of that sometimes!).

Back in the days, I hated contractions. I abhorred them regardless if they were only seeming contradictions or actual ones. They made me very uneasy. And the failed harmonization attempts made me cringe. I needed neat clear logical answers. My need for cognitive closure was high.

Over the years, alongside this repulsion , I noticed an odd attraction towards those contradictions and paradoxes. Something in me was very intrigued, finding myself gravitating towards them over and over again. In a strange way, both sentiments thrive in me today, and maybe always had.

When I encounter or sense a dialectic, I feel pressure to resolve it either by finding a harmonization or by identifying it indeed as a contradiction (calling a spade a spade). That stress, while uneasy, is in it and of itself is a sign of the beautiful fascination that paradox exercises on me.

I’ll give an example; the issue that made me think of the title “paradoxically paradoxical” to begin with. The people who make it to leadership positions tend to be aggressive, selfish and egotistical.

An impressionistic rough hypothesis: Those who are selfless, easing-going and want to accommodate others tend not to seek leadership positions. However, people governed by this leadership will benefit from a selfless altruistic leader. And here in lies the paradox; good leadership is altruistic leadership but altruistic people don’t tend to seek leadership. After we understand this paradox, we are better able to improve the situation: Devise a system that appoints leaders who do not take initiative in pursuing power or search for leaders who possess the rare combination of selflessness and strength; seeking power as a means not an end.

This paradox explains why the status quo is not very good. Now, we can find a better solution like searching for leaders who possess the rare combination of seeking power and altruism or building a system that appoints only leaders who do not seek power nor positions.

The second point is that by examining a paradox, we can improve our situations.

It’s a goldmine for improvement and powerful insight. And there-in lies the ultimate paradox: my greatest source of unease is my greatest source of joy; paradoxes. Devoting my life to contemplating them might be the most fruitful endeavor. That is meta-paradoxical. Pursuing paradoxes is particularly productive. It’s then might be more fruitful to focus on what “doesn’t make sense” than what does make sense.

I was flustered/ disenchanted by the lack of progress in life. There seems to be a lot of knowledge and hard work but often, the improvement that we want does not happen even with the best resources. I felt that the system was somehow stuck in gear.

These paradoxes gave an explanation to that.

They were responsible for jamming the system. The good news was that if we understood those paradoxes, then we can unlock the system paving the way for the long-awaited progress.

I became much more interested in things that “didn’t feel right”, counter-intuitive or “insane” ideas. After all, the “normal” way was the status-quo way and I wasn’t satisfied with that. Are you?

So what do I do now when I get this feeling of “this doesn’t make sense”, “there’s something off” “there’s a contradiction”? Instead of sweeping the issue under the rug or acquiescing to cognitive dissonance, I scratch that itch. I get excited by the smell of the paradox since, there, bottlenecks are cleared and major breakthroughs are made.

Behavioral Economics:

The same principle applies to behavioral economics. Rational economics assumes that the person is completely rational. Behavioral economics focuses on our irrationality. The wonderful thing about focusing so much on our systematic cognitive mistakes, is that this means that we can improve and improve a lot without paying much in return. Dan Ariely says “(I)t can be rather depressing to realize that we all continually make irrational decisions in our personal, professional and social lives. But there is a silver lining: the fact that we make mistakes also means that there are ways to improve our decisions —- and therefore that there are opportunities for free lunches…. One of the main differences between standard and behavioral economics involves this concept of ‘free lunches.’ According to the assumptions of standard economics, all human decisions are rational and informed …. As a consequence, economic theory asserts that there are no free lunches — if there aware any, someone would have already found them and extracted all their value…  behavioral economists, on the other hand, believe that people are susceptible to …(multiple)… forms of irrationality… The good news is that these mistakes also provide opportunities for improvement. If we all make systematic mistakes in our decisions, then why not develop new strategies, tools, and methods to help us make better decisions and improve our overall well-being? That’s exactly the meaning of free lunches from the perspective of behavioral economics ….” ( Predicatbly irrational, 319-320).

The most exciting phrase in Science is ….. “That’s funny”

Complexity scientist, Samuel Arbesman, said something to a similar effect (Listen to Podcast Interview with him, minute 6-8, 11-13). He focuses on odd, anomalous issues he encounters to gain a better understanding of a topic he’s studying. This often happens when something “doesn’t fit in”. This is a lens that allows him to unlock previously hidden information echoing Isaac Aismov’s quote ““The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not, ‘Eureka! I’ve found it,’ but, ‘That’s funny!’”.

I think I good slogan for the blog would be “Embrace the Cringe”. Do you like it?

Retort Photo by Brett Jordan on Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/apCvW7

Boiling Parts of the Ocean

1000+ Interesting Lava Ocean Photos · Pexels · Free Stock Photos


The picture is me. I looked for myself and found myself in it.


Boiling the ocean:

Time and again people, especially my family, told me “You can’t boil the ocean, Hashem!”. This is an expression that means you can’t turn every stone. It’s an  attempt to tone down my perfectionist perseverant pursuit for whatever it is I’m searching for. They have  a point! My research ,even for trivial things, can become too obsessive and consuming. However, some places and life tracks reward boiling the ocean; parts of the ocean that is.


The juxtaposition between water and fire, cold and hot captures my fascination with paradoxes and dialectics.

When fact is stranger than Fiction: Bizarre facts

There are underwater volcanoes! That’s a fact! But at the same time, it’s not something you see every day. It’s mind blowing especially if you’re looking at it. The picture has the intrigue of the fictional world but actually belongs to the factual world. This is what I want to write about. I want my reader to be blown away by the facts.

The Crazy Photographers

As  I was searching for an ocean lava picture, I read some of the back stories of how these photos were taken.  I felt a certain affinity with the photographers. I wouldn’t do what they did  in terms of putting my life in danger for a photo ;however, the extent that they went to provide the world with something so specific and unique is something that speaks to me deeply. Their end product is not an average run-of-the-mill photo that we see every day. It’s not redundant. [1] I admire people who lose their minds pursuing for their careers.


[1] See especially the photos taken by Selway and Kale Link . If the reporting is accurate, then their end result would be a category of its own, the first fruits.