Monthly Archives: August 2012

How certain should you be that you know, what you think you know

Many philosophers ponder the idea that we can never know particular things for certain. Whether true, or not, this notion is incredibly important in the search for knowledge. Being agnostic regarding knowledge or conceptions of things can allow us the creative girth to think about problems in new and incredible ways, which can then spark novel solutions.
Everyone knew that the earth used to be flat.
Also been reading 10 Theories of Human Nature. The coolest takeaway is from the overview of major religions. Christianity talks about God being everywhere and in everything. Hinduism talks about Brahman, which is the original spirit and the thing that makes up the universe on its most basal level. In all the incredibly eloquent depictions of these ideas and beliefs, there is a striking resemblance to the description an excited scientist would give to energy. “It makes up everything!” he would say. “You can’t destroy it, nor can you create it. It passes on from form to form!!” he would continue. There’s just such a striking resemblance and I think that is cool beans. Maybe the smartest people in the world 2,000 years ago felt, and couldn’t ignore this fact that there was something that connects us all and that we are all ‘one’ in a sense. They didn’t (and couldn’t) have a scientific explanation for it. So they created a religious one. Cool beans, I say. Cool beans.

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I like white noise and a little Confucing

Harvard + Columbia + BlueCross. That’s awesome. White noise helps you concentrate. That’s awesome. This site also has some mind training exercises. That’s awesome.  http://www.simplynoise.com/

Also awesome: Confucius didn’t answer questions on human nature (human nature in the sense of whether we are mostly and naturally good or evil). Odd. One of the greatest thinkers in history chooses to side step (on numerous occasions) one of the most grand questions. I think he did so because he was quite a smarty pants and knew that human nature is a malleable pot of lead that is mostly determined by one’s surroundings. So the question is actually unanswerable from this view.

Also awesome: Confucius’ main tenement was that the benevolence is, above all, what should be cultivated in the human spirit. I think this means hoping and wishing that quantum randomness falls in other’s favor and doing whatever appropriate things you can to help this. Coolio Confucius, I see that.

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Introverts suck

Introverts suck. They’re shy and boring unless you pry into their minds.
Well someone pried. A neuroscientist has shown that the mind of an introvert and that of an extrovert differ in a very interesting way. One is actually chemically over-stimulated. The other is chemically under-stimulated. 

An introvert’s mind is overstimulated, leading them to retract from stimuli. This is the reason for their classic behavior. It’s why they’re more likely to make a decision, then sleep on it. It’s the reason they won’t shout out in an open group discussion and why it feels like to think you need to ‘baby’ the person to get anything out of them. But really, they just need less action to mentally get off than you do. That is hilarious. And beautiful.
But this fact also has wonderfully interesting implications for fault of action. It shows that it’s not introverts fault that they have these qualities. They can’t help that their minds are chemically over-stimulated, that this forces them to be shy and not interject their beautiful ideas. It speaks to the idea that it’s not just about being or choosing to be more one way or another. It’s a much more complicated process for people, there’s so much more going on. So next time you can’t understand why someone doesn’t act the way you do or does something illogical to you, remember it’s not all their fault.
Full disclosure: I’m an extrovert.

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Are you happy about lying? + Meditation in schools

People lie all the time. Well, probably. I don’t know for sure, but that’s actually the point.

But there are two types of lies. The first are the type that benefit the liar and not really anyone else. The second are lies that benefit someone else and maybe also the liar.

Which are which? The only person that can ever know this, for sure, is the liar. And the liar needs to be all-right with how close their lies come to that very grey between the two types of lies.

It also leads to a question that’s very helpful in life: “Are you perfectly happy with the amount of energy you are exerting in order to be the best version of yourself that you want to be?” If you can answer this question with a yes, you’re likely a very happy person. Or you at least have no reason to be sad. Which puts you in the best position to choose to be happy.
But notice some things about that question:
1) It is not about results. It’s about you being happy with your level of effort. Results are skewed by random outside effects, control of which you do not have.
2) It is not about being the ‘best’ defined by some archetype given by society. It’s about what you think is best. It’s your version of awesome.

Also – applause to the Vancouver school system which has implemented meditation bouts throughout their days for kids. It’s in a effort to teach kids about their brains, meta-cognition (thinking about thinking) and that they can control their emotions and efforts. This control has proven to be one of the highest indicators of future success.

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