Right And Wrong Are Fuzzy Concepts – 7 Takeaways No. 131

Arguing at ends of a blue-red gradient.
(Image: canva.com)

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1. “Focus on the good stuff”

Excellent Advice for Living – Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier – Kevin Kelly – (ebook)

So much good stuff in this book. I don’t think I can recommend it highly enough. (Though, if short, pithy, yet insightful statements put you off, then maybe it’s not for you.)

This week I just wanted an excuse to highlight:

You will thrive more
—and so will others—
when you promote what you love
rather than bash what you hate.
Life is short; focus on the good stuff.

There’s enough bashing, don’t you think?

Do this: Promote what you love.

2. “Perfectly clear and irrefutable”

What’s Our Problem? – A Self-help Book for Societies – Tim Urban – (ebook)

This is turning in to a lengthy, but very interesting read. It’s looking at the origins and structure of the many divisions we see in society today, with (so far) a focus on our political mess.

If someone really wants to believe something—that the Earth is flat, that 9/11 was orchestrated by Americans, that the CIA is after them—the human brain will find a way to make that belief seem perfectly clear and irrefutable.

This is part of what often makes it so difficult to have constructive, rational discussions about important topics.

I expect I’ll be referencing this book often in the coming weeks.

Do this: Question yourself.

3. “Right and wrong are fuzzy concepts”

The Relativity of Wrong – Isaac Asimov – (Essay)

This spoke to my heart. I’ve long been frustrated with attempts to simplify everything into black and white, yes and no, right and wrong. Everything is shades of grey.

So I was chuffed, as the Brits would say, to come across this essay by one of my favorite authors tackling the same concept from a somewhat different angle. Using concepts such as flat-earth theory, 2+2 being 4, and more, he dives into the reasoning — all in response to a reader who attempted to school him on science.

Having exact answers, and having absolute rights and wrongs, minimizes the necessity of thinking, and that pleases both students and teachers.

Emphasis mine. It’s all about avoiding thinking. Life is easier when it’s over-simplified. Simplifications can be useful, but they can also be wrong. (Or, “wronger”, as Asimov might say.)

Do this: Think

4. “Mortality motivation”

The Hardest Part About Getting Old That Took Me 25 Years to Learn – Tim Denning – (Unfiltered newsletter)

Denning’s a prolific writer, and indeed, he starts this missive with a (short) plug for his LinkedIn writing course. From there he takes a valuable and interesting direction.

The #1 reason people tell me they don’t write online is some version of “I’m worried what people think.”

From my vantage point, Denning’s still a youngster, but there’s wisdom in where he takes it.

You will die. It won’t be pretty. So stop wasting your freaking life worrying about dumb stuff. Nobody is thinking about you in their heads, sorry to say. Move on.

This is SO HARD. Yes, from my over twice-as-old perspective, it’s still incredibly difficult to set aside the perceived judgements of others and just Do. The. Work.

Do this: Do the work, or whatever it is you’re not doing but know you want to.

5. “It’s about what the pain is teaching me”

I’m a 102-year-old doctor – here’s how to find joy and purpose in every decade of your life – Eleanor Peake – (i)

Besides lists, I’m a sucker for stories of folks who have lived long vibrant lives. This is one of them. Not that she hasn’t had pain — there was plenty — but her attitude more than compensates.

But there has never been a time where the sun wasn’t coming up in the morning, or the moon wasn’t shining at night.

It’s a great story, with much wisdom. (And, it’s my first “double header”, as she also appears as today’s Not All News Is Bad item.)

Do this: Find joy and purpose.

6. “It sounds privileged!”

I’m a Couples Therapist. Something New Is Happening in Relationships. – Orna Guralnik – (The New York Times)

This caught my attention not because of the relationship to couples therapy, but because of the takeaway. One of the side effects of the last few years has been a growing realization of just how privileged many of us are.

Everything about me was raised to believe I am not racist or privileged, but in recent years I realize how easy certain things have always been for me simply because I’m white. I am humbled.

It’s not “white guilt”, as the right likes to weaponize it, but just an acknowledgement that some are born into an easier world than others, and realizing that, working to be more understanding of all. While the article discusses this in the context of couples, the concepts transcend all relationships, intimate or otherwise.

Do this: Be understanding.

7. “The importance of evaluating information”

The BS Asymmetry Principle, Bias for Action, & More – Sahil Bloom – (Curiosity Chronicle newsletter)

I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard of the “BS Asymmetry Principle”, even if not by that name.

The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.

Some might say several orders of magnitude in today’s fast-paced world of social media. It’s a stark reminder of just how easy it is not only to create bullshit, but for it to persist long after its creation.

Do this: Do the work. Evaluate the information. Refute the bullshit.

More random links & thoughts


This week’s highlighted source: Trevor McKendrick’s Newsletter, which sent me to Read Something Wonderful, which surfaced the Asimov essay above.

I’m building and keeping a list on the sources page.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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