Discover more from Stay Curious
📚 Adventure in philosophy with kids, Three types of "No", Christmas tree effect, Backstory scope creep
Ideas from Scott Hershovitz, David Epstein, Alex Morris, Wes Kao and more
Hi, this is post #127.
If you’re curious, I’ve got your fix. Here’s the menu for today.
📑 Scrapbook of Ideas
📖 Nasty, Brutish, and Short
🙅 Three types of “No”
🎄 Christmas Tree Effect
🧸 Avoiding backstory scope creep
and much more
Let’s get started.
1. Scrapbook of Ideas
2. Nasty, Brutish, and Short
Scott Hershovitz’s “Nasty, Brutish, and Short” is about his “adventures in philosophy with kids”. Seth Godin had recommended it recently, and I am glad I picked it.
Here’s a snippet from intro section calling out why the author is mixing philosophy and kids in this book.
Kids do philosophy with "a freshness and inventiveness that is hard for even the most imaginative adult to match." The freshness stems from the fact that kids find the world a puzzling place.
Several years back, a psychologist named Michelle Chouinard listened to recordings of young children spending time with their parents. In just over two hundred hours, she heard nearly twenty-five thousand questions. That works out to more than two a minute. About a quarter of those questions sought explanations; the kids wanted to know how or why.
Kids also like to puzzle things out. In another study, researchers found that kids who don't get answers to how or why questions cook up their own explanations. And even when they do get answers, they often aren't satisfied. They follow up with another why or challenge the explanation offered.
But we haven't yet hit the most important reason kids make good philosophers: they aren't worried about seeming silly. They haven't learned that serious people don't spend time on some questions.
Hershovitz is witty and has used events that are highly relatable.
Each chapter is a philosophical discourse on a topic, but it’s thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve never found discussions on topics like “Rights”, “Revenge”, “Punishment” so engrossing. These are pure fun & you’re bound to get lost in his narrative.
I have just heard the first couple of hours, but could not wait to share further. Simply brilliant listen! Highly recommended.
3. Three Types of “No”
Saying "no" isn't easy. But there are different ways to say "no" to someone's requests without feeling like you've let them down while being realistic and constructive and ensuring the requester feels heard.
This is the premise of Sketchplanations’s post titled Three types of “No”. To give you a glimpse, he talks of these three:
The Yes No
The Material No
The Priority No
In a recent episode, Mukesh Bansal had talked about his definition of “No” as “No means not now”. He talks from the point of view of a hustling entrepreneur who should not give up. Have you seen any better definition?
4. Christmas Tree Effect
David Epstein’s “Christmas tree effect” has a simple message - Our intuition is to add things to solve problems, but sometimes we should take away. This is not the first time someone has said it. Yet, it’s so difficult to put it into action.
I am sharing this one for two reasons:
The discussion around “traffic deaths numbers on road signs”. You would have seen & wondered about their existence (I saw them recently in Kerala). I would love to read if there is any counter opinion on this one.
“Christmas tree effect” gives another memorable narrative to the idea. Maybe this will make it easy to remember & be guided by the need of “subtraction and not addition”.
5. Avoiding Backstory Scope Creep
Start right before you get eaten by the bear simply means to cut non-essential backstory so you can spend time on the juicy part.
Again, this may not be a novel lesson for you. Still, I urge you to give a read to this piece by Wes Kao. She has gathered examples to help with many scenarios that you face regularly.
A couple of useful snippets worth remembering:
Avoiding backstory scope creep doesn’t mean to be concise at all costs. And concise doesn’t necessarily mean short. Concise simply means sharing enough to get your idea across with an economy of words. If everything had to be consumed in 30 seconds or less, the world would be a worse place for it.
When we’re not sure what we want to say, we tend to get long-winded. This is because you’re thinking out loud—and it’s hard to think, analyze, and edit what you’re saying in real time.
6. Light reads & videos
Some interesting blogs & videos from not so usual topics of interest.
Techno life skills: Kevin Kelly on building the life skills to master any type of technology.
Tools are metaphors that shape how you think. What embedded assumptions does the new tool make? Does it assume right-handedness, or literacy, or a password, or a place to throw it away? Where the defaults are set can reflect a tool’s bias.
For some reasons that I cannot comprehend, this scene from Whiplash popped up in my mind multiple times last week. I had covered this movie in #42.
The movie has its fans & super critics. Which gang do you belong to?
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson or Roald Dahl, then Netflix has a double treat for you. I watched “The wonderful story of Henry Sugar” and loved it. There are some unanswered questions, yet I enjoyed it fully. What a visual treat!
Son, you’re old enough to know the truth, there is no such thing as the “invisible hand of the market.” Sometimes you need nerdy humor to get you out of the zone.
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
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