Privacy, Pain, LSD, Nationalism and A Mysterious Infection
Happy Tuesday! I’ve been thinking a lot about the concepts of “craftsmanship” and “mastery” lately. The happiest people I know are, by far, those who commit themselves to a job, a cause or an art for a long time, find joy in the process and are motivated by an higher sense of purpose and mastery rather than money.
In his fantastic book “Drive”, Daniel Pink explains many reasons why these people are the happiest but the most important one, I believe, can be found on page 76:
“Intrinsically motivated people usually achieve more than their reward –seeking counterparts. Alas, that is not always true in the short term. An intense focus on extrinsic can deliver fast results. The trouble is, the approach is difficult to sustain. And it doesn’t assist in mastery-which is the source of achievement over the long haul.”
I believe that when a lot of people say they feel “stuck” in their life or unmotivated what they actually mean is that they don’t have a sense of purpose. This is definitely true for me. I’ve felt “stuck” for the last 5-6 months. Unable to think straight and move forward.
The good news is that you can find purpose by refining your craft and seeking mastery. Ironically, this newsletter helps me do that. It doesn’t make any money. There is no obvious benefit in doing it. The only “goal” for this newsletter is to make people think, which is obviously impossible to measure.
Yet, I spend an absurd amount of time researching articles, writing summaries and in general, putting together every issue. It’s craftsmanship. And every single time I send an issue, I’m genuinely proud of it and it makes me incredibly happy.
On to The Fireside…
New Article: “Nothing to hide”. I don’t know you but I’m tired of hearing that we shouldn’t worry about mass surveillance unless we got something to hide. In this post I explain why the “nothing-to-hide” argument is morally broke, historically backwards and practically ineffective.
New Book: “A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson is one of the most mind blowing books I’ve ever read. In it, Bryson talks about… well, nearly everything, from astronomy to quantum physics, to the theory of evolution and tectonic movements. If you have interests across different topics and want to know how it all fits together, this is probably one of the best books about science ever written.
Have a great rest of the week :)
➤ The links
Most societies in the world are unequal. And almost everyone will consider inequality to be unfair as well. But is it true? In this truly remarkable article, three Yale scientists argue it’s not inequality in life that really bothers us, but unfairness. If you read only one article, make it this one.
We all instinctively know that men and women experience pain in a different way (ever heard of “man flu”?) Now science is uncovering why: brain pathways in men and women are remarkably different. Interesting article about the stereotypes and reality of pain and why, at lest in mice, pregnant females switch their pathways to those observed in males.
It’s no secret that LSD causes wild hallucinations, altered states of consciousness, one-ness with the universe, and a host of other psychedelic effects. An LSD study published recently supports one leading theory suggesting that the brain on LSD trips because it’s experiencing sensory overload. In other words, what we perceive as “hallucinations” is how we would perceive the world around us if our brain didn’t filter out most of the stimulus. This is still very new but incredibly fascinating.
Tribalism (or the us-versus-them thinking) runs deep. It’s so embedded in our biology that even 3-year-olds innately prefer to play with kids of their own race and some people even think getting completely rid of it might change the definition itself of being human. Interesting reading, especially in light of the rise of nationalism in Europe, Trump and Brexit.
F.I.R.E. is a very very famous acronym online. It stands for Financial Independence - Retire Early. It goes like this: 1) figure out how much you need to retire. 2) Live extremely frugally and save like crazy for a couple of decades. 3) Invest those savings into “safe” financial assets (usually index funds) that compound over time. 4) Retire. While theoretically sound, can you see what the problem is here? There is another approach to financial freedom. One that requires a bit more effort but substantially less time and discipline.
★ Other things from the internet
(That may or may not make you look smart at dinner parties)
Scientist have found a fungi (bacteria) that is resistant to antibiotics. Indeed, it’s resistant to EVERYTHING and nobody knows how to deal with it. To avoid panic, the authorities have decided to keep it a secret for over 18 months. Terrifying.
I’ve found this collections of “truths” very elegant and succinct. My favourites are:
#11 “If you never doubt your beliefs, then you’re wrong a lot.”
#35 “Proof is nothing but a collection of opinions that match your own”
#86 “Wishing things were different is a great way to torture yourself”
PS: Read the full TheFireside archives here