Everybody Used to Be Naked – 7 Takeaways No. 180

Are we doomed in mediocrity? Impermanence is permanent. Science vs. opinions. Your next chapter. Sharing your worldview. I hate networking. Naked and afraid.

Silhouette of a couple, presumably naked, against a sunset.
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1. “The world won’t end with a bang, but with a whimper.”

Mediocrity as an Existential Risk – David Pinsof – (Everything is Bullshit newsletter)

I’m normally a pretty positive person, if for no other reason that progress relies on the expectation that tomorrow will be better than today.

This essay is none of that. Pinsof admits “Warning: this one’s a bummer”, and it is.

when science stops advancing, markets stop innovating, and demagoguery eats democracy, the machinery of progress will grind to a halt—or reverse

My takeaway is less about the potential reality, but rather that we all be aware of possibilities, and take what actions we can to make tomorrow better.

Do this: Be positive, but practical.

#civilization #mediocrity #negativity #positivity

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2. “Alles van waarde is weerloos”

Everything you love, you’ll eventually lose. Or maybe not… – Susan Cain – (The Quiet Life with Susan Cain)

Unintentionally continuing a depressing theme, the Dutch above translates to “everything of value is defenseless”. The topic came up because a reader asked Cain:

If we open up and truly feel how much we care about what we love (dear ones, nature, art…), how to live with the – for me – frightening idea that we cannot protect it?

The risks of caring. Not only can we not protect it, eventually we’ll lose it. It’s very much the Buddhist concept of “impermanence”. Nothing lasts forever. Cain’s advice boils down not only to not stop caring, but that continuing to care about things that remain, or new things we seek out, will help the inevitable pain of loss.

Do this: Care.

#impermanence #caring #loss

3. “You can’t simply cry out ‘Fraud!’ because you don’t like the conclusions”

4 pervasive myths that cause us to abandon science – Ethan Siegel – (Big Think)

That takeaway above seems to apply to so much more than just science. We see it happening so often in so many venues. Someone doesn’t like the answer they’re given — perhaps it goes against their pre-conceived notions — and thus rather than examining their own position they simply claim the answer must be wrong.

No matter how true something is — the Big Bang, evolution, the roundness of the Earth — there will be people who have dissenting opinions about it.

Part of me finds that statement depressing, but I also know it’s realistic. The real question is what do we, as a society, value in order to move forward?

The essay discusses four myths, but sadly doesn’t discuss how to really address them. The problem I see is that the people who really need to understand them are the least interested in learning.

Do this: Seek the truth, even if it means you’d be wrong about something.

#science #truth

4. “You get to write the story.”

How to Be Your Best Despite the Passing Years (gift link) – Arthur C. Brooks – (The Atlantic)

Brooks just turned 60 and this essay discusses the fact that we seem to treat those round number birthdays differently, as if they’re some special mark in time. Given that we treat them as if they are, then it becomes true, I guess.

So, on your next major birthday, think of your life as an autobiographical novel that starts that day.

I’ve seen people be incredibly depressed on milestone birthdays, and I’ve seen others use those milestones as opportunities to write the next chapter of their lives.

And when you think about it, the milestone is arbitrary. You can choose any birthday, or any day, to begin writing that next chapter.

Do this: Be intentional about your future, regardless of your age.

#aging #birthdays #future

5. “I’m paralyzed by the world.”

Where I’m coming from – Ben Werdmuller – (Werd I/O)

This is a somewhat lengthy explanation of the author’s worldview. Some might see it as quixotic, unrealistic, or even naïve, but I love it in so many ways.

I worry that not saying something might be considered to be acquiescence or approval.

This is a dilemma I share. Particularly since I have a platform, however small, knowing what to say, how to say it, and who to say it to is always a concern at the back of my mind. Werdmuller touches on many things I would say, and probably does so better than I would.

Do this: Consider your world view. Then consider sharing it.


6. “You get somewhere by building genuine relationships”

The Anti-Networking Guide – Sahil Bloom – (Curiosity Chronicle)

In my heart, I’m a card-carrying, dyed in the wool, introvert. Even though I’ve been known to play the role of extrovert in certain situations, I’m often the wallflower at conferences and other similar gatherings where I know few people.

One of Bloom’s items hit home:

Put yourself into rooms with a high density of value-aligned individuals.

I realized this has been happening in my personal life for years. Some of our closest friends these days have common characteristics, and it’s because of the rooms we put ourselves in that we came together. We’ve even created some of those rooms. Now I just need to extend the metaphor to other areas of my life, and go make or find some more rooms.

Do this: Find your people.

#connection #relationships

7. “Everybody used to be naked, all the time.”

We Are All Surrounded by Immense Wealth – David Cain – (Raptitude)

A fascinating exercise in perspective. We’re used to measuring our “wealth” relative to those around us. We’re wealthy if we have more then others, and poor if we have less.

Simply existing within in a society with industries, courts, banks, hospitals, roads, electricity, professional expertise, and schools – even if you have no direct access to those things yourself — frees you from huge proportion of the survival burden Mother Nature still puts on every human being.

Consider, instead, measuring from absolute zero. Naked, with zero infrastructure.

Mother Nature gives all human beings the same raw deal: with a gun to your temple, she whispers, “Find 2000 calories today, for each member of your family, and you may live one more day. Don’t let your bodies get too hot or too cold, and don’t let anything puncture or break them. Good luck.”

Good luck, indeed. Much of our “luck” today comes from standing on the shoulders of those who came before us, and those who make modern life and society possible.

Do this: Don’t take it all for granted.

#wealth #society

Additional Interesting Links

What I’m Reading

In progress:


A full list of my common sources is on the sources page, and the books I’ve read are listed on my Reading List page.

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