Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Only Thing Done for Itself, Not as a Means to a Different End

The only thing done just for itself, instead of as a means to get something else, is the act of trying to be happy. Why do you want money? Why do you want a nicer car? Why do you want recognition from your friends and family? Why do you want love? You want these things because you think they will make you happy. And some will. And some will for a short time. And some will for a long time.

Happiness is the only thing done for itself and not as a means to any other end.


The inspiration from this originally comes from Aristotle:
Happiness is… “that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else”


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When Truth, Theory and Evidence Are Misunderstood

It’s often misinterpreted that science explains concepts perfectly. People believe that when something is ‘proven’, it is taken that proof will never be refuted and that it is 100% true. But the below links explains things much more clearly. If people understood this underlying fact about our ‘knowledge’, they might be more open to the new ideas and ways of thinking.

And now for the cheesiest line in knowledge… Remember when we all thought the Earth was flat?


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On the Benefits of Anonymity

What if instead of voting for a specific person, you voted for a box of initiatives, policies and beliefs written on a cue-card with no personal attachment. Isn’t that the basis of what we’re supposed to be doing in Democracy? We’re supposed to elect that certain policies, with which we agree, are enacted. And if a majority of the population agrees, than those are enacted, etc.?

Behavioural economics, neuroscience and psychology are all realms from which studies and proofs have emerged in recent years to show us that human choice-making skills are fraught with disadvantages and bugs. If a man is taller for example, all else being equal, he WILL make more money. I have to laugh, it’s almost ludicrous, but it does make sense given the wiring we evolved to have in our heads. We can’t take into account every piece of data coming into our senses from the forest, we needed short cuts in our brains to very quickly understand that there was a lion in front of us that was about to sink his teeth into us.
I think, though it’s all very unnatural, there are severe benefits to anonymity. And especially so in business and the way in which technology can allow people to interact.
When something is anonymized, all the interpersonal biases are removed. It forces the decision maker to focus on the relevant facts, not whether the proponent of the ideas or choices has the same clothes, walks with the same gait or comes from a similar background.


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The Knowledge Paradox – As it applies to self and self worth

Two things together:
One. You know all those stories about journalists or photographers going to some remote place (usually Africa, or, whatever, it doesn’t matter) and talking about taking villagers pictures and then showing them? Right, well they all report the same thing; that the villagers are so surprised and so intrigued because they’ve never seen their own photograph before or maybe even their own reflection. Ok, that’s cool and interesting. And I’ve tried living without seeing my reflection and it does produce some cool results (see for that).
Two. Remember the book “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Shwartz. He talks about the fact that conventional economic theory teaches us to think that the more choice we have in a situation, the happier or more ‘utility’ is created. But then goes on to show many situations in which that isn’t true. This is largely due because when there’s choice beyond a certain amount, the mind starts comparing what we end up with what we could have ended up with and it becomes too much data to analyse and we end up less happy because of the energy it takes to process all that extra data, or choices.
Well what about the paradox of self knowledge. What if our rapid and easy access to our reflection leaves us in a state of perpetual self absorption? That’s likely a hyperbolic way of putting it. But we didn’t evolve with all this access to ourselves visually or, maybe even more importantly, through social media, access to what other think of us via ‘likes’, etc.
The increased access provides a breeding ground for self-consciousness and self second guessing. Am I beautiful? Am I smart enough? Am I cool enough? It’s all inward and it’s due to a knowledge access paradox. You’d think more knowledge is better, but maybe it’s not.

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