What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#90)

Learned last week: Why it’s so hard to draw a bike, thoughts the new merged world, how to read less, and more!

Book excerpt I was thinking about:

“We should never label our practice sessions as “good” or “bad.” Any time you get to the meditation seat is good meditation.” (Lodro Rinzler, Sit Like a Buddha)

Resist the urge to label your practice efforts!

Our brave new merged world:

A great little read on the changes afoot in the work world and where we live. The physical location of where we live has never felt more significant from a social perspective, while less significant from a work-perspective.

As jobs will less force people to move, people will move areas less often, and the areas where people live will be less set by jobs. As life at work will be less social, people will have to get more of their socializing from elsewhere. Some of this will come from remote socializing, but much will still probably come from in-person socializing. So people will choose where they live more based on family, friends, leisure activities, and non-work social connections. Churches, clubs, and shared interest socializing will increase in importance. People will also pick where to live more based on climate, price, and views. Beach towns will boom, and the largest cities will lose.
Because people will move areas less often, the social connections they make in school will last them longer into life. Yet today school is widely talked about as a preparation for work. So schools will be torn between wanting to be in-person to promote local social connections, and remote to promote work skills. Perhaps schools will split, with core work-related classes being remote but electives and “after school activities” being in-person. Work hours will be less rigid, and it will be easier to do non-work tasks during usual work times.

Why is it so hard to draw a bike from memory:

Researcher Andy Earle says the bicycle memory test is an example of the “illusion of explanatory depth,” the tendency for people to overestimate their understanding of something, which is followed by the realization of their ignorance when asked to explain how it works. Earle cited a study that looked at how the illusion of explanatory depth affected people’s political beliefs:
[P]articipants were asked for opinions on political issues like single-payer healthcare or a cap-and-trade system for limiting emissions. They also rated their understanding of each issue. Then, all were asked to explain the issues in depth. Afterward, people consistently downgraded their estimates of their own understanding and became more moderate in their views.
Others in the same study who were asked to defend their position instead of explaining the issue did not demonstrate this effect.

How to read less:

A bit of a counterpoint to an article I shared previously about how to read more. I’ve been bouncing around books more frequently and trying to be more ok with starting and stopping books at will.

In order to ease and simplify our lives, we might dare to ask a very old-fashioned question: what am I reading for? And this time, rather than answering ‘in order to know everything,’ we might parcel off a much more limited, focused and useful goal. We might – for example – decide that while society as a whole may be on a search for total knowledge, all that we really need and want to do is gather knowledge that is going to be useful to us as we lead our own lives. We might decide on a new mantra to guide our reading henceforth: we want to read in order to learn to be content. Nothing less – and nothing more.

We are all not occupying the same solar system:

Democracy relies on an informed and engaged public responding in rational ways to the real-life facts and challenges before us. But a growing number of Americans are untethered from that. “They’re not on the same epistemological grounding, they’re not living in the same worlds,” says Whitney Phillips, a professor at Syracuse who studies online disinformation. “You cannot have a functioning democracy when people are not at the very least occupying the same solar system.”

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Comments welcome!