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Being Wrong

Shane Parrish’s highlights from this gem of a Ted Talk by Kahthryn Schulz.

… The first thing we usually do when someone disagrees with us is that we just assume they are ignorant. You know, they don’t have access to the same information we do and when we generously share that information with them, they are going to see the light and come on over to our team.

When that doesn’t work. When it turns out those people have all the same information and they still don’t agree with us we move onto a second assumption. They’re idiots. They have all the right pieces of the puzzle and they are too moronic to put them together.

And when that doesn’t work. When it turns out that people have all the same facts that we do and they are pretty smart we move onto a third assumption. They know the truth and they are deliberately distorting it for their own malevolent purposes.

So this is a catastrophe: our attachment to our own rightness. It prevents us from preventing mistakes when we need to and causes us to treat each other terribly.

You can watch the whole talk below or click here. It’s twenty minutes well spent.



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Writing as the Most Important Thing You Could Do Every Morning

From a Ryan Holiday post on journalling,

“I don’t journal to “be productive.” I don’t do it to find great ideas, or to put down prose I can later publish. The pages aren’t intended for anyone but me.

Morning pages are, as author Julia Cameron puts it, “spiritual windshield wipers.” It’s the most cost-effective therapy I’ve ever found. To quote her further…: ‘Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts [nebulous worries, jitters, and preoccupations] on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes.’”

Also totally love the quote that opens the article,

“Keep a notebook.
Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it.
Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain.
Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter.
And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.”

—Jack London

Go, read!

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What Does Reading a Book Do to Your Brain?

From What Does Immersing Yourself in a Book Do to Your Brain?

Reading allows us to try on, for a few moments, what it truly means to be another person, with all the similar and sometimes vastly different emotions and struggles that govern others’ lives.
The reading circuitry is elaborated by such simulations; so also our daily lives, and so also the lives of those who would lead others.

The novelist Jane Smiley worries that it is just this dimension in fiction that is most threatened by our culture: “My guess is that mere technology will not kill the novel. . . . But novels can be sidelined. . . . When that happens, our society will be brutalized and coarsened by people . . . who have no way of understanding us or each other.” It is a chilling reminder of how important the life of reading is for human beings if we are to form an ever more realized democratic society for everyone.

Empathy involves, therefore, both knowledge and feeling. It involves leaving past assumptions behind and deepening our intellectual understanding of another person, another religion, another culture and epoch. In this moment in our collective history, the capacity for compassionate knowledge of others may be our best antidote to the “culture of indifference” that spiritual leaders such as the Dalai Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Pope Francis describe. It may also be our best bridge to others with whom we need to work together, so as to create a safer world for all its inhabitants. In the very special cognitive space within the reading-brain circuit, pride and prejudice can gradually dissolve through the compassionate understanding of another’s mind.

The whole article is a slow, lovely ode to reading and empathy.

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Want to Write Better? Become a Better Reader!

Busy with exams this month, so leaving you with this Austin Kleon post with tonnes of quotes on reading.

Here’s a few of my favourite ones …

“You can’t be a good writer without being a devoted reader.”
—J.K. Rowling

“Read, read, read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read!”
—William Faulkner

“When I’m reading, I’m looking for something to steal. Readers ask me all the time the traditional question ‘Where do you get your ideas from?” I reply: ‘We are all having ideas all the time. But I’m on the lookout for them. You’re not.’”
—Philip Pullman

Go, read.

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Why I use Gender Neutral Pronouns

A young friend of mine had this to say a while back, when I suggested he use gender neutral pronouns in his writing.

the gender thing. I thought a lot about it and came to the conclusion that it is okay to be biased in your writing. Me being a male, it is only natural for me to use 'he' more often than 'she'. But the idea of flipping the roles1 seems interesting :) I'd keep that in mind.

And I don’t know why that bothered me.
Am I imposing my view on a young, impressionable mind by insisting he write a certain way?
Why did I branch out of my normal, grammatical/typo corrections to suggest this?

Then it struck me. Seth Godin, saying, “People like us, do things like this.”
I believe in a certain manner of treating people.
I believe that every one needs to be treated with inclusiveness.
I believe that half of our species has never been treated with the respect they deserve. (and some others have been ruthlessly shunned)
I believe language deepens such prejudice.

And so, this is my little rebellion.
I will do my utmost to treat people with respect.
I use my pronouns so that any thing desirable or powerful or important is not automatically associated with men.
I use my pronouns so that anything associated with grunt work is not just something women do.
I want my language to be as inclusive as possible.
This is my tribe.

This was my realisation and what set me at peace.
Everyone is not like me or shares my views. I should be ever more cognisant of this fact.
I have my tribe of like minded people.
People like me, do things like me :)

As for you, my young friend, I hope to welcome you someday into my tribe!

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  1. The role flipping was another suggestion. Flip genders when describing stuff. A male receptionist. A female surgeon. A male seamstress. A female truck driver. Copied as always, from the always wise Seth