3 Minute Monday
Holding multiple viewpoints at the same time is the mark of a good thinker.
For all that the internet has given us unlimited access to the entire archive of human knowledge, I’m not sure if it’s made our thinking much better.
I regularly see posts online disregarding what a person says because of some perceived indiscretion in the past about a totally unrelated topic.
Two common examples are Ryan Holiday and Sam Harris.
Ryan was pro-vaccine, pro-masking, anti-trump and posted a public letter to his father ahead of the 2020 election asking him not to vote for The Donald, who he saw as an existential threat to the future of America.
You can take all the issues that you want with these stances, but no matter your epidemiological or political disposition, I don’t think that Ryan’s positions here discredit his research into history and the philosophy of Stoicism.
Yet a bunch of people now refuse to take Ryan’s work in good faith for this very reason.
Sam, similarly was vehemently anti-Trump (but also anti-woke), pro-vaccine and pro-suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story.
Again, I don’t need to agree with all of Sam’s views here, but his insights into free will, or the nature of consciousness, or meditation seem pretty separate and unmolested by his view on politics.
I don’t see it as a smart or effective approach to disregard a thinker’s entire body of work, simply because I disagree with one, or even many of their takes.
Flip-flopping between hater and fanboy based on whether this person seems like they’re batting for your team does not change the accuracy of their insights.
Just because I don’t agree with one take from someone doesn’t mean I can’t agree with anything they say.
When asked why he was supporting Sam’s view on a current topic after heavily criticising him in the past, Chris Kavanagh said:
“My chessboard does not have that many dimensions. Lots of people are not simply good or bad, almost everyone is grey.”
People are not simply good or bad, and you’re limiting your learning if you ignore what someone has to say on topic Y just because you disagreed with them on topic X.
Do I think that it’s possible to have such an atrocious take that it discredits someone’s thinking wholesale?
Is that dynamic over-applied when saying “this philosophy historian’s work studying something from 2000 years ago is rekt by a tweet about politics?”
I’ve also noticed another interesting dynamic going on and I need a name for it, so bare with me here…
We now live in a world where public figures are best known by their most recent, and most egregious transgression of whatever sacred cow norm their critics want to inflate, and then hate them for.
The Peak–End Rule is a cognitive bias that impacts how people recall past events.
Intense positive or negative moments (the peaks) and the final moments of an experience (the end) are heavily weighted in our memory.
Similarly, The Peak-Hate Rule is a cognitive bias that impacts how people recall public figures.
Their best known offence (Jordan Peterson hated his trans students) and their most recent offence (Jordan Peterson is fat-phobic) are most heavily weighted in their haters’ memories.
Seen from the other side of the aisle – “Hasan Abi believed that America deserved 9/11 and Hasan Abi is a fake socialist because he owns an expensive house”.
Anyway, try and stay open minded.
You’ll be less angry, and you might learn something.
I do a podcast which has had 90 million+ downloads. You should subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
This week’s upcoming episodes:
Kevin Dutton – a psychologist who has studies psychopaths for years explains why they are the way they are, whether there are some positive traits we can all use in our normal life and how to avoid cognitive biases.
Jaimie Krems – the evolutionary psychology of human friendship. How do male and female friendships differ? Are pro-life supporters actually trying to improve their own reproductive chances? Fascinating and spicy.
Laura Vanderkam – 9 tools for better time management from the lady who red pilled me on how to make life go slower 5 years ago. Some great actionable insights here.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED
Millennials are going into debt from dating.
A survey shows that 22% of millennials (ages 26 to 41) and 19% of Gen Zers (ages 18 to 25) have gone into debt from what they’ve spent on dating.
On average, survey respondents said they spend about $91 on a night out.
Female respondents say they spend an average of $81 on a date.
Male respondents sat they spend an average of $104.
Around 85% of respondents said they wouldn’t feel offended if their partner took them on a low-cost date.
Smart people sometimes outsmart themselves.
“Alan Turing was worried about losing his savings if Germany invaded England.
He bought two silver bars (90 kg, $57,000 current value) and buried them in woods near Bletchley Park.
After WWII Turing discovered he was unable to break his own code he used to create the treasure map.” h/t Jameson Lopp
German vocabulary wins again.
Zugunruhe is a German term.
Translated roughly it means “the anxiety felt by migratory birds who are prevented from migrating”.
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I took a 16 hour flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta this week. Very intense.