Brain Food – No. 528 – June 11, 2023
Timeless ideas and insights for life. (Read the archives)
The Noise Bottleneck:
We think the more information we consume the more signal we’ll consume. Only the mind doesn’t work like that. When the volume of information increases, our ability to comprehend the relevant from the irrelevant becomes compromised. We place too much emphasis on irrelevant data and lose sight of what’s really important.
Good days don’t necessarily make a good life:
“There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life.”
— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
Big ambitions, low expectations, and high standards are a powerful combination for living your best life.
Ambitions pull you forward when it’s hard. They connect you to something larger. One of my most important ambitions is to be a great father and friend. Another is to leave the world a better place than I found it. You can’t have a meaningful life without a connection to something larger than yourself.
Reality minus expectations = happiness. You will never be happy unless your expectations are exceeded. If you think the world owes you something, you’re going to end up disappointed. The world doesn’t owe you anything. You can’t sit around waiting for the world to come and hand you what you think you deserve. If you want something to happen, you have to take action. Go positive and go first.
High standards – When it gets hard, do not lower your standards. I am not always at my best, but I always give my best. I hold myself to a high bar. I don’t always meet it, but I won’t lower the bar to feel better about myself.
A special members-only episode of the podcast with Dr. Alice Pailhès on what we can learn about decision-making from Magic.
“[W]e have what we call “reasoning errors,” which are also linked to several things. So these are the instances where basically, it’s hard for the spectator to really understand and reason properly about what is happening. So we can have what’s called “ambiguity blindness.” So if I ask you “Red or black?” and you say “Red,” I can say, “Okay, let’s keep the red cards.” But I can also say, “Okay, let’s delete the red cards.” … I’m too ambiguous in what I’m presenting you; you don’t have enough information to understand what I’m going to do with what you’re kind of choosing. So we can do many, many different things with this. We can have limitation in mathematical thinking as well. … People are not really good with probabilities, or if I just throw a dice and I ask you to add [up the top number] and bottom number, [the answer] will always end up being the same number, but people don’t know this. We can also have wrong assumptions—so just people, for instance, believing that I have 52 different cards when it’s not the case and they’re all identical. So they don’t have all the … proper beliefs or information to correctly reason about what is happening, so that’s why they will end up very easily believing and feeling that they have some control over what’s happening and have [an] illusion of control for their choice in the end. So that’s one part of the outcome forces. Other outcome forces are based on what we call “perceptual errors.”
Wealthy people have smaller circles of trust than you’d imagine:
“The more successful you become,” Flemings said, “the fewer people you can trust. The more successful, the less the public thinks of you; billionaire has become a pejorative word. The more successful you become, the harder it is to find someone who will look you in the face and tell you the truth.”
Preventing a problem vs. solving a problem:
I think about this phenomenon often. In this short clip, Clark Kent prevents the problem, and no one cares. Superman solves the problem and becomes a hero.
P.S. This is kinda crazy.