Mass Hysteria on Steroids — 7 Takeaways No. 53

Mass Hysteria?

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1. "Google is great, but it also makes us stupid"

There Is A Small Bone In The Center Of Your Heart – Emily Kingsley – (Medium)

I can’t really say much about this one without really spoiling it, other than to say it’s a wonderful lesson taught by a great teacher.

Either way, it’s not enough to know how to read and write anymore. If you’re going to make it in this crazy world, you’ve also got to know how to think. You’ve got to ask questions. You’ve got to ask for proof, and when someone shows it to you, look at it long and hard.

Do this: Read it. 6 minutes and worth it.

2. "the pits of anxious anticipation"

Dec. 7, 1941 (and today) – Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner – (Steady, newsletter)

There will be a time when people not-yet-born will look back at this pandemic or the previous administration and not understand the feelings that we have had living through these trying years. It will be something they read and note. They will think about it in a way we don’t. Unlike us, they will know what happened next. And that means they will never experience the pits of anxious anticipation that reside in so many of our stomachs.

Rather’s reflection is, of course, on Pearl Harbor day’s 80th anniversary, but points out that many years from now our ancestors will have a very different perspective on, and memory of, what our current days contain. It’s interesting to read about some of the panic that ensued in the United States 80 years ago, and how we now look back rather . . . calmly? Sadly? Vaguely?

Ultimately Rather’s message is one of hope. Someday perhaps we’ll be able to look back from better times at what has become only a memory.

Do this: Maintain perspective. Maintain hope.

3. "Your ego tells you you’re important."

Harsh Reality: When You Leave a Job, Nobody Will Miss You – Tim Denning – (Medium)

So. Damn. True.

It was true 20 years ago when I walked out of the door at Microsoft for the last time, and it’s just as true today. We believe we’re important. We believe we’ll be missed. We believe we’ll stay in touch with most of the friends we made along the way.

We believed wrong. I know I did.

Do this: Set your expectations appropriately, and above all: make decisions for yourself, not because you believe "the company" will suffer without you. They won’t.

4. "Religious prejudice enshrined in law."

Religious Persecution Today – Being the enemy of the state – David Gamble – (Blog)

This is something I think about often. The obvious cases the author begins with are a selection of countries around the world that ban specific religious beliefs. But what I find interesting is the number of U.S. states with laws explicitly stating that individuals must believe in God in order to perform an assortment of state duties — generally holding office, but at least in one case being able to testify as a witness.

Codified in law or not, I’ve long held that the U.S. is significantly more amenable to members of religions they disagree with than they are those who don’t believe at all.

Freedom of religion? Sure, within (often hypocritical) limits. Freedom from religion? Apparently not.

Do this: consider what you truly believe, and how you feel about those who believe otherwise . . . or not at all.

5. "mass hysteria on steroids"

Stopping the spread of mass hysteria by Facebook, other social media platforms – Gary W. Small – (Stat)

This is an interesting opinion piece by a psychiatrist and neuroscientist discussing the impact of social media, and more generally "screen time", on individuals with a focus on adolescents. Stories about (non-social media related) mass hysteria are prescient.

Children who engage in regular exercise and spend less time on screens experience fewer mood and behavioral symptoms

I really have only two objections, and they’re common to this kind of literature right now:

  1. An over-emphasis on Facebook as the example. There’s so much more than Facebook at play here, particularly when it comes to kids.
  2. The implication that social media is bad. In my opinion it’s not, and the solution is not to avoid it or even demonize it, but rather to understand it, understand some of the benefits it brings, and educate on its proper use in moderation.

Do this: Use social media, if you care to, and understand and monitor that used by your children, if you have any. Banning its use is only likely to backfire.

6. "We have to make abortion unnecessary"

There Are More Than Two Sides to the Abortion Debate – Conor Friedersdorf – (The Atlantic)

This is a compendium of Atlantic reader feedback on the issue, and is an interesting cross-section of positions on the topic.

Leaving out contraception makes it an unrealistic, airy discussion of moral philosophy. In particular, we need to consider government-funded programs of long-acting reversible contraception which enable reasoned choices outside the emotional circumstances of having sexual intercourse.

There are many important positions on the topic, all worth understanding, regardless of which you happen to support.

Do this: take the time to understand "the other side". (Of any argument, for that matter.)

7. "the first reliable prediction of climate change"

The Man Who Predicted Climate Change – Stephen Witt – (The New Yorker)

1966 – 55 years. That’s how long we’ve known that climate change could have devastating effects. Subsequent research based on those predictions confirm it’s extremely likely due to human causes.

This combination—cooler above, hotter below—is now regarded by climatologists as the smoking gun of human-caused climate change.

This is a fascinating article about one researcher — Syukuro Manabe — who saw it coming.

He was just awarded the Nobel prize.

Do this: support the efforts to reduce human impact on the climate.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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