Sunday Wisdom No. 84

Facts don’t change our minds. The mind is stubborn, and no matter how strong the facts are, we undervalue evidence that contradicts our beliefs and overvalue evidence that confirms them.

Hey friends,

Currently I’m at my native place in Agartala where I grew up. Some of my childhood friends are here and I’m spending a lot of time with them.

If you’ve been following me on YouTube, you know that I’ve recently quit my job. I’m currently on a sabbatical. This has given me mental space to work on things that have been pending for some time.

For starters, I’ve updated the theme of my website. It has a search feature now. Yay! It’s a bit buggy but I decided to release it anyway. I’ve written 150+ essays so searching the archive definitely helps.

I’m also doing a lot of reading. For the first time ever I’m reading as many as 20 books on various topics at the same time. It’s a personal experiment. I’m trying to find an efficient way to read various subjects and find how they connect with each other.

I’m also dedicating a good chunk of time learning iOS Development. But similar to reading books I’m also learning frontend development in React on the side. Whenever I get fatigued with one, I switch to the other. This keeps things moving.

Now, it’s time to read and learn.


My Core Ideas of the Week

How to Avoid Fooling Yourself — As much as we would like to believe, facts don’t change our minds. The mind is stubborn, and no matter how strong the facts are, we undervalue evidence that contradicts our beliefs and overvalue evidence that confirms them. Ironically, the same brain that empowers rational thinking also skews our judgments. How can we fix this?

Barack Obama’s 3 Rules of Decision-Making — I just finished reading Barack Obama’s autobiography: A Promised Land, and in this video I share what I learned from Obama about making tough decisions. These lessons are indispensable if you are a leader or a decision maker.


Interesting Things I Discovered

The Data Behind a Once-a-Week Strength Routine — There’s good news and bad news in a remarkable new multi-year study of nearly 15,000 people who followed an ultra-minimalist strength training plan involving just one short workout a week. The good news is that the training really works, despite taking less than 20 minutes a week all in street clothes. The bad news is that it eventually stops working, or at least gets less effective.

Why We Can’t Stop Longing for the Good Old Days — People in many countries are longing for the good old days. When asked if life in their country is better or worse today than 50 years ago, 31% of Britons, 41% of Americans and 46% of the French say it’s worse. Psychologists say that this kind of nostalgia is natural and sometimes even useful: Anchoring our identity in the past helps give us a sense of stability and predictability.

On “Getting” Poetry — A subscriber to this magazine writes with a problem: “Although I have advanced university degrees, I have never ‘gotten’ poetry.” He’s not alone; I hear the same thing regularly from people who love to read novels and biographies, who are undaunted by string quartets and abstract paintings, but find poetry a closed door. No one is more aware of this disconnect between poetry and the reading public than poets themselves.

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things — This video is about stuff: light bulbs, printers, phones and why they aren’t getting better with time.


A Quote to Note

Certain character traits encourage the mental-models method to blossom. Fortunately, these are mostly traits you can choose: intellectual curiosity, integrity, patience, and self-criticism. Problem-solving success is not just a matter of IQ. As Munger notes, the great naturalist Charles Darwin’s worldview-changing results reflect more his working method than his raw intellect. On the flip side, examples abound of smart people making bad decisions, often showing inflexibility or a failure to appreciate psychology’s lessons.

— Michael J. Mauboussin, More Than You Know


My Directive of the Week

Laziness is a slippery slope. The less you do, the easier it is for you to do less. There is truth in the old saying that if you want something done, you should ask a busy person to do it.

Don’t be busy for the sake of being busy. Be busy to build momentum so that you can get more done.

Until next Sunday,
Abhishek