Why Are We Stupid? – 7 Takeaways No. 168

Becoming a better communicator. A radical thought regarding who should vote. Overwork. Over protectiveness vs. Over permissiveness. Navigating the political divide. Life is now. The silence of the girls.

A detailed illustration of an individual standing in front of a voting machine, visibly confused and scratching their head. The person is dressed in casual attire, reflecting the action of participating in a democratic process. The setting is an indoor polling station, with privacy booths visible in the background to emphasize the context of voting. The image should capture a moment of indecision or misunderstanding, highlighting the complexity or uncertainty often associated with voting processes.
(Image: DALL-E 3)

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1. “Conversations are not competitions.”

Do You Make This Mistake In Conversations? – John P. Weiss – (Blog)

As Weiss says, “We tend to talk at one another rather than with one another.” The common thinking is that this is a recent development, perhaps exacerbated by technology and/or social media, but I’m not sure. Seems like it’s always been thus.

My real takeaway here are his “7 tips for better conversations”:

  • Stop trying to be right
  • Listen
  • Stop hogging the conversation
  • Stop the one-upmanship
  • Ask questions
  • Embrace active listening
  • Give reciprocity

He discusses each in more detail, of course, and it’s worth a read. They all seem so simple, and yet … so difficult. I know I’m not great at most of them.

Do this: Listen

#listening #conversations

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2. “Why Are We Stupid?”

In Praise of Passivity – Michael Huemer – (Fake Noûs on substack)

For politics and social governance, Huemer has an answer:

In brief, people have no incentive to get political questions right. In a country of 300 million people, you know that you’re never going to actually have any effect on any national policy. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense for you to spend much time, or to do anything that isn’t fun, to try to figure out what the best policies are.

What’s attention grabbing, though, is his recommendation: only people who are truly knowledgeable about an issue should have input on that issue. There’s logic to that statement, since politicians, lobbyists, and even the general populace can rarely hold sufficient knowledge to make truly informed rational decisions. And yet they’re the ones who make often life and society altering decisions.

Huemer suggests that even voting by the public is a bad idea. (My take is that this stands a chance only if all people agree to do it. Good luck with that. We all want the illusion that we’re somehow making a difference, even though it’s incredibly unlikely.) It’s a thought-provoking essay.

Do this: Vote anyway. But try to be smart about it.

#voting #stupidity #passivity

3. “The better I do, the better I am expected to do”

Are You Doing Too Much? – Angela Duckworth & Mike Maughan – (No Stupid Questions podcast)

The first part of this podcast discusses achievers, over-achievers, and the like.

The second half got my attention: perfectionism, the impact of its unattainability, and specifically where it often comes from. The most troubling source is social pressure, which is on the rise.

the trend for socially prescribed perfectionism really starts to inflect around 2007 or 2008, which just so happens to be the time Apple released the first iPhone and the social media platforms came into our lives 24/7.

While they discuss young people, the negative impact of comparison to perfectly posed and posted pictures is inevitable across all age groups.

Do this: Strive for excellence, but embrace your inevitable imperfection as well.

#excellence #perfectionism #social-media

4. “We desperately want to keep our children safe”

Why Children Need Risk, Fear, and Excitement in Play – Mariana Brussoni – (After Babel newsletter)

Honestly, this isn’t really new thinking. I know those of us past a certain age have been concerned about over protectiveness for some time. It feels like research is finally catching up.

We desperately want to keep our children safe and ensure their success. We are also often terrified that they will get hurt and that they will fail—so we do everything we can to prevent that from happening. Yet many of those very efforts to manage our fears have paradoxically reduced our children’s safety and their odds of success.

It is absolutely a paradox, and finding “the line” between protectiveness and permissiveness is difficult. But it’s important to help kids succeed.

Do this: If you’re a parent, I recommend reading the article.


5. “Compassion and conviction can coexist”

The Unity of the Political Animal – Lawrence Yeo – (More to That blog)

Probably one of the saner takes on the political divide and how to navigate it.

Curiosity is a liability in a political mind, and a mind that is devoid of curiosity often becomes a violent one

It’s not a “this is what we need to do” essay, other than it encourages us to view our environment, and others, with a lens that’s much less divisive than “us versus them”.

Do this: “Accept that you’re a political animal who understands that we’re all navigating this conundrum together.”

#politics #curiosity

6. “Real life doesn’t start tomorrow”

Real life – Kasra – (Bits of Wonder newsletter)

I think this caught my eye because it’s so very close to something I’ve reflected on often. We spend so much time waiting to begin our life without realizing that life is now. This is life. Whatever it is you’re doing, experiencing, or currently waiting to get past … don’t wait. This is life. Right here. Right now.

People will tell you to do different things. Some people will tell you to quit, to take the leap, because life is short. Other people will tell you to keep going, to stay committed, to play the long game.

What matters is simply that you pay attention. What matters is that you stop waiting, and realize that this, right now, is life.

For however long it lasts.

Do this: Live.

#life #waiting

7. “Silencing the self, however, is a recipe for depression”

Girls are still in a bad bargain with patriarchy: the price of relationship is keeping their true thoughts to themselves – Carol Gilligan – (Aeon)

Since it attributes much to “the patriarchy”, this item may be somewhat controversial. The author relates her experience and interpretation of the willingness, or not, of girls to honestly express themselves.

If you say what you are feeling and thinking, no one will want to be with you, and if you don’t say what you are feeling and thinking, no one will be with you. Either way, you will be all alone.

I found it an insightful article giving me a perspective on an important aspect of society where I have little to no experience.

Do this: Listen.

#patriarchy #listening #honestly #safety

Random Links & Thoughts

What I’m Reading

In progress:


A full list of my common sources is on the sources page.

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