Insights for the deeply romantic and deeply skeptical

12 Tips For A Better Life

12 Bite-Sized Articles

Faster Than Light
There is something faster than the speed of light, the speed at which, when we're angry at someone for something, we forget that we've done the same thing.

IQ and Self-Affirmation
Nothing compromises the pursuit of wisdom like the need to hold one's head ever high, to be constant gardener in one's finically manicured garden of positive self-regard. One can't think straight when one is tugged every second back to self-defense, self-affirmation, and self-glorification. One can't walk the winding, soft-shouldered ridge trail toward more accurate insight, when one fears falling off the discouraging side, and therefore leans hard to the encouraging side.

Two Kinds Of People
I think there may be two kinds of people, people who are skeptical about their own motives and people who aren't. The people who aren't are the kind who, when challenged always say in so many words, "Oh no, my motivations are pure." And you can tell that they believe it. I've called it "talkiswalkism" come to think of it. "My self-reporting talk is always an accurate description of my walk."

Sobered Genius
Geniuses would do well to remember that the world is no doubt populated by people with talents as great as theirs who haven't had their opportunities to express them. My favorite Beatles line is "nothing you can do that can't be done."

Thought Club
How many friends do you have with whom you can really wrestle out truths, friends curious and tough enough that together you can do serious spelunking through the layers of what you want to figure out but haven't yet? For some, it's a real quality of life enhancer. For others, not so much. For still others, they'd enjoy it but never had it, not a colleague, friend, teacher or relative. And still others had it when they were younger but not since.

Shame’s Unintended Consequence
Shaming people only sometimes gets people to stop thinking the way they do. More often it gets them to stop sharing what they think, which may not be your objective.

Absence Makes Hearts Go Yonder
No matter how close you are to someone, you are in radically different states in many given instants, times one is working hardest and the other is kicking back, one at their worst, the other at their best, one undisciplined the other disciplined, one immoral the other moral. We orbit in and out of each other's company. We're not synced when apart.

Human Potential
Is it just my computer or in the last month did Facebook wall videos start playing automatically when you open the page? I'm somehow suddenly exposed to, or drawn in to a whole lot more vids of people doing things exceptionally well.  In the 60's Michael Murphy coined the term "Human Potential Movement" and went around collecting documentation of humans exceeding expectations in all sorts of challenging disciplines. FB now serves up heaping helpings of that kind of documentation. It's humbling. May it be more inspiring than discouraging.

Wraparound Extremism
Beware the Wraparound Extremist:  So scared they're scary, so non-judgmental they're judgmental, so tolerant they're intolerant, so libertarian they're totalitarian, so victimized they're oppressive. It's like Pac Man. Fall off one side of the screen and you show up on the other. 

Winner Pro-Temp
Hot looking: Just skin deep and years long. All beauty contest winners are beauty contest losers in no time. Indeed almost all popularity contests--even most contests.  Very very few people remain the reigning winners posthumously.

An over-reaction to the excesses of prior dogma.

Libertarianism is the counter-dogma to Communism
New Age Spirituality is a counter-dogma to Christianity
Neo-Conservativism is a counter-dogma to Liberalism
Christianity originates as a counter-dogma to Judaism
Isis is a counter-dogma to Western Imperialism. 
Christian fundamentalism is a counter-dogma these days to Islamic fundamentalism.

Counter-dogmas mistake the substance of the prior dogma as the problem when the real problem is dogmatic self-certainty. It's not what you believe but how you come to, and hold your beliefs. Like the math teacher says: "Show your work!"  Ted Cruz works from Abbie Hoffman's playbook. Who would have thought we'd be witnessing the political right being as naively dogmatic as the leftist ideologues of the late 20th century? Anyone who recognized the pendulum swings of dogma and counter-dogma.

The War On…
Interesting that we have "wars with" and "wars on" We wouldn't call WWII was the "War on fascists" or the "War on Germany, Italy and Japan." We war on habits, but those habits have their enthusiasts. Drug enthusiasts are enjoined by the war on drugs. Terror enthusiasts are enjoined by the war on terror. I mean if it's a war, there is opposition, right?


Jeremy Sherman is an evolutionary epistemologist studying the natural history and practical realities of decision making.


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