A bimonthly bookish newsletter for lifelong learners and wanderers alike. Full of timely, wise, and deliberately short assortments ranging from book recommendations and summaries, articles, introduction to thinkers, thinking concepts, and more. All shaped specifically for our morally confused and widely distracted age.
Hello online friends,
Besides being a book nerd, I have always been interested in research done by scientists in laboratories. Smart-looking people quietly observing others, and adding check marks to spreadsheets.
When scientific research is mention in a book, I always get super excited, enter into a hyper-focus state and try hard to visualize the situation so I can fully absorb what is being explained. After all, these studies often provide real-world applications of how people behave. They offer practical insights and suggestions to solving problems we all experience. All based on science. And who can argue with science, right?
That's why, I recently started reading scientific papers. Not such that examine our microbiology or our genes. More notably papers that are related to our behavior patterns, explain how our brains operate and how our neurons influence our everyday decisions.
But there is a tiny little problem when attempting to read such texts... The actual text.
If you ever came across a scientific journal, you've probably felt the way I do: Impressively dull because you don't get 70% of the words used in the paper. Or, completely zoning out after just a few paragraphs because the matter is so far from your usual readings - making the whole reading experience close to impossible.
Although these scientific articles contain an impressive amount of insights, the presentation is mostly aimed towards people who eat dictionaries for breakfast.
That's why, I thought that it will be interesting if I apply what I'm doing with my book summaries and summarize one of the last papers I've read. I summoned all of my efforts to actually get what the paper is all about and I reproduced the findings in clearly digestible language - or at least I hope I did.
The end result is not only interesting, but also groundbreaking. Not my fault, I'm simply reporting what the authors of this research paper did as a study. You can read my lay summary here:
Also, let me know if you're interested in reading more of those. I'm experimenting with this and I'd love to hear your feedback.
(If for some reason your email client decides to clip the email, click here to see the full content).
[NEW] Alchemy by Rory Sutherland: Alchemy offers a refreshingly different way of doing business and solving problems. Instead of relying on what is visible and rational, if we want to make our product seem magical in the eyes of others, we should focus more on the unspoken and the irrational.
Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: This medium-sized read is full of Taleb's observations on what makes someone worthy of being called an expert. Why you shouldn't listen to academics and why getting the fanciest gear is not always the best choice. Skin in the Game is a provocative - rant included - book, that will help you detect bullshit.
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Interesting books I recently added to my reading list (and hopefully will read at some point):
The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher W. Alexander: This book is essential reading for anyone involved in making things for use by other human beings. The author explains why some places, and buildings, are alive while others are decomposing and dying.
The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel: Readers describe this book as strategic, philosophical. It doesn't tell you how to get rich, it asks you what "rich" means to you and why this desire exists in you in the first place.
To be honest, I was expecting a book full of actionable tips on running a shoe company. A list of to-dos that can help you get your own shoe company of the ground and impress your parents.
Fortunately, the book is far from what I expected.
A memoir indeed. But also so much more. It's one of those books you simply can't put away. It's the story of Nike. The story of the founder and everyone involved in the company. But not only the company as a shoe company. Also the creation of a culture, an ideology. For me, it's a book about not giving up. A book about grabbing a crazy idea and not letting go.
Interesting words from books and around the web.
Bibliophile (noun): A lover of books especially for qualities of format; A book collector; An individual who loves and frequently reads books.
Inundated (verb): To give someone so much work or so many things that they cannot deal with it all; Covered with or overwhelmed with a large amount of something; Flooded.
Mamihlapinatapai (noun): A look that without words is shared by two people who want to initiate something, but neither start; Looking at each other hoping that either will offer to do something which both parties desire but are unwilling to do.
Baruch Spinoza was a 17th century Jewish-Dutch philosopher who developed a novel way to think about the relationship between God, nature, and ethics. He suggested they are all interconnected in a single animating force.
He made significant contributions in virtually every area of philosophy and he's also considered among the most important of the post-Cartesian philosophers.
Ontological argument: Spinoza argued that man’s ideas do not come from himself, but from some sort of external cause. Therefore, the things whose characteristics a man knows must have come from some prior source. So, if man has the idea of God, then God must exist before this thought, because man cannot create an idea of his own imagination.
God or Nature: Spinoza's metaphysics consists of one thing: substance. Early in The Ethics, his most notable work, Spinoza explains that there is only one substance, which is absolutely infinite, self-caused, and eternal. He calls this substance "God", or "Nature". He defines "substance" as follows: "By substance, I understand what is in itself and is conceived through itself, i.e., that whose concept does not require the concept of another thing, from which it must be formed."
Understand the way the world works: According to his philosophy, the main task of a person should be to try to understand how and why the universe works and then accept it. Not protest and send messages in form of prayers up into the sky. As he so beautifully put it, "Whoever loves God cannot strive that God should love him in return."
Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect
From my desk:
What Is Consciousness For? [Lay Summary]: The core function of consciousness, according to the authors of this research paper, is to enable the act of free will. To inform us about our surrounding environment and our desires, so that we can direct all our actions towards what is the most important aspect for every human: surviving the given moment.
From around the web:
How Cognitive Bias Can Sabotage Your Resolutions: "We know from numerous studies that instead of being hardwired to maximize our long-term rewards, we resort to short-term gratifications. In practice, this is self-evident. But where does this come from and how can we get better at working against it? The answers lie in a psychological concept known as future-self continuity."
Letter to My Younger Self: "You’ll see the same drive, the same determination on the field. It’s what comes after years of people telling you that you can’t do it, or that you don’t belong out there. It’s the dedication to keep showing up, to keep putting everything you have out there while constantly facing prejudice, while constantly fighting for acceptance and respect."
Hyperbolic discounting refers to the tendency for people to increasingly choose a smaller-sooner reward over a larger-later reward. Put another way, people generally want rewards sooner rather than later. Thus, options that delay a reward appear less attractive and people discount them. For example, if you have to decide, you will most likely choose to get $5 now instead of $20 after 2 weeks. And to explain this to your brain, you'll discount the later reward.
Worth thinking about:
"The curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding, or better at explaining than doing."
- Nassim Taleb
A word on long-winded writing.
As you probably saw upstairs, in the introduction section. I provided quite a significant amount of words to explain that I simply wrote a piece of content, didn't I?
Good writers. World-famous authors. And also wanna be internet entrepreneurs. Always explain the same thing about writing: Write short, concise sentences, and cut down the noise. While I do also love clear-cur writing, down-to-earth, no bs, tweet-sized text, that is so easily digestible, that it should require a simple glimpse. I also love letting all of my thoughts out about why something is. That's why I often end up sharing more text than what I initially intended to share.
So, if you're not down to sometimes long explanations, of course, you can unsubscribe.
Just want to mention it.
In closing, I want to share with you a cool site that captures the atmosphere we all probably miss by now: hanging out with friends in a bar.