Paleolithic Edition Rewind timeyears ago:
Why does this happen? How can smart people take up positions that defy any reasonable logic? So if nothing else this essay serves as a kind of personal therapy session. Majoring in logic is not the kind of thing that makes people want to talk to you at parties, or read your essays.
But one thing I did learn after years of studying advanced logic theory is that proficiency in argument can easily be used to overpower others, even when you are dead wrong.
If you learn a few tricks of logic and debate, you can refute the obvious, and defend the ridiculous. Opportunities for this are rare: It can be easier for smart people who have a habit of defending bad ideas to change jobs, spouses, or cities rather than honestly examine what is at the core of their psyche and often, their misery.
Short of obtaining a degree in logic, or studying the nuances of debate, remember this one simple rule for defusing those who are skilled at defending bad ideas: Simply because they cannot be proven wrong, does not make them right. Most of the tricks of logic and debate refute questions and attacks, but fail to establish any true justification for a given idea.
Death by homogeny The second stop on our tour of commonly defended bad ideas is the seemingly friendly notion of communal thinking. The power of peer pressure is that it works on our psychology, not our intellect. As social animals we are heavily influenced by how the people around us behave, and the quality of our own internal decision making varies widely depending on the environment we currently are in.
Try to write a haiku poem while standing in an elevator with 15 opera singers screaming 15 different operas, in 15 different languages, in falsetto, directly at you vs. That said, the more homogeneous a group of people are in their thinking, the narrower the range of ideas that the group will openly consider.
Some teams of people look to focus groups, consultancies, and research methods to bring in outside ideas, but this rarely improves the quality of thinking in the group itself. Those outside ideas, however bold or original, are at the mercy of the diversity of thought within the group itself.
Focus groups or other outside sources of information can not give a team, or its leaders, a soul. A bland homogeneous team of people has no real opinions, because it consists of people with same backgrounds, outlooks, and experiences who will only feel comfortable discussing the safe ideas that fit into those constraints.
If you want your smart people to be as smart as possible, seek a diversity of ideas. Find people with different experiences, opinions, backgrounds, weights, heights, races, facial hair styles, colors, past-times, favorite items of clothing, philosophies, and beliefs.
Unify them around the results you want, not the means or approaches they are expected to use. On your own, avoid homogenous books, films, music, food, sex, media and people. Be in the moment and be open to it.
Until recently in human history, life was much less predictable and we were forced to encounter things not always of our own choosing. We are capable of more interesting and creative lives than our modern cultures often provide for us.
If you go out of your way to find diverse experiences it will become impossible for you to miss ideas simply because your homogenous outlook filtered them out.
Thinking at the wrong level At any moment on any project there are an infinite number of levels of problem solving. Part of being a truly smart person is to know which level is the right one at a given time.
But as ridiculous as this scenario sounds, it happens all the time. Some call this difference in skill wisdom, in that the wise know what to be thinking about, where as the merely intelligent only know how to think.
The de-emphasis of wisdom is an east vs. Other examples include people that always worry about money despite how much they have, people who struggle with relationships but invest their energy only in improving their appearance instead of in therapy or other emotional explorationor anyone that wants to solve problem X but only ever seems to do things that solve problem Y.
The primary point is that no amount of intelligence can help an individual who is diligently working at the wrong level of the problem. The survival of living creatures, for most of the history of our planet, has been a short term game. Only if you can out-run your predators, and catch your prey, do you have the luxury of worrying about tomorrow.
It follows then that we tend to be better at worrying about and solving short term issues than long term issues. Once distracted, we rarely return to the long term issues we were drawn away from. A common justification for abuse of short term thinking is the fake perspective defense.
People say similar things all the time in defense of the free market economy, democracy, and mating strategies. But if you were in that broken down Winnebago up to your ankles in gasoline from a leaking tank, smoking a cigarette in each hand, you could say the same thing.When we study literature, our horizons are broadened, because we can learn about and come to understand people who are different from us.
Conversely, we might discover characters or poems that we. Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, and Rooney Mara as his girlfriend Erica in The Social Network. How long is a generation these days?
I must be in Mark Zuckerberg’s generation—there are only nine years between us—but somehow it doesn’t feel that way. By Peter N. Stearns. People live in the present. They plan for and worry about the future. History, however, is the study of the past.
Given all the demands that press in from living in the present and anticipating what is yet to come, why bother with what has been? Clouds wander in the sky, some pregnant with rain, some tremulous in hope, one wanting to drench parched earth to partaken stupor, another seeking to be spent as a dewrop on a leaf blade while damp earth muses nearby.
February When we were in junior high school, my friend Rich and I made a map of the school lunch tables according to popularity. This was easy to do, because kids only ate lunch with others of about the same popularity.
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