Timeless Ideas | August 15, 2021
Here’s your weekly dose of timeless ideas to sharpen your mind, make smarter decisions, and live better.
The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.
― Robert B. Cialdini
Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.
— Walter Lippmann
Anyone who is threatened and is forced by necessity either to act or to suffer becomes a very dangerous man to the prince.
— Niccolò Machiavelli
The line attributed to the management guru Peter Drucker is that culture eats strategy. It’s a truism that applies as much to conspiracies as it does to businesses. It doesn’t matter how great your plan is, it doesn’t matter who your people are, if what binds them all together is weak or toxic, so, too, will be the outcome—if you even get that far. But if the ties that bind you together are strong, if you have a sense of purpose and mission, you can withstand great trials.
Ryan Holiday in Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue
Whether chemists, physicists, or political scientists, the most successful problem solvers spend mental energy figuring out what type of problem they are facing before matching a strategy to it, rather than jumping in with memorized procedures. In one of the most cited studies of expert problem solving ever conducted, an interdisciplinary team of scientists came to a pretty simple conclusion: successful problem solvers are more able to determine the deep structure of a problem before they proceed to match a strategy to it. Less successful problem solvers are more like most students in the Ambiguous Sorting Task: they mentally classify problems only by superficial, overtly stated features, like the domain context.
David Epstein in Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
It is helpful to think of your mind as having limited shelf space. If you fill that space with negative thoughts, it will set your mental filters to negativity and poor health, and there will be no space left for healthy, productive, and uplifting thoughts. You can control your mental shelf space—to a degree—by manipulating your physical surroundings. In the case of pharmaceutical commercials, it means changing the channel so you are not bombarded with unhealthy thoughts that can wreck your mind and body over time. I will pause here to note that science is solidly on my side. So is nearly every self-help guru.
Scott Adams in Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America
Articles Worth Reading
Mostafa El-Kallinyis and Zoe R Donaldsonis | Aeon
From the moment we are born, we are hardwired to seek attachment to others. As we wend our way through life’s course – from infancy to adolescence to adulthood to loss – attachment holds a strong grip on our lives, shifting to accommodate our changing needs. While the roots of this phenomenon tell us much about who we are, they tell us just as much about mysteries that remain unanswered in evolution, psychology, neuroscience and more.
Glenn Adamson | Psyche
Most of us dislike throwing out things at least a little. Yet the idea that our possessions might turn the tables and possess us holds a certain fascinating horror. Our complex relationship with our things is behind the runaway popularity of Marie Kondo, the diminutive Jedi of decluttering. But tidying up won’t get you to the kind of lived-in, peculiarly personalized space that, for most people, defines the ideal of home.
Thomas Levenson | Nautilus
Disasters evoke a search for who to blame. Mishandled disasters make that search vital for anyone whose actions or inactions may have amplified the catastrophe’s damage. Those two dynamics have revitalized a claim first made early in the pandemic: that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, was released, possibly as an engineered organism, in a lab accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.