From the New York Times:
“Smartphones are our constant companions. For many of us, their glowing screens are a ubiquitous presence, drawing us in with endless diversions, like the warm ping of social approval delivered in the forms of likes and retweets, and the algorithmically amplified outrage of the latest “breaking” news or controversy. They’re in our hands, as soon as we wake, and command our attention until the final moments before we fall asleep.
Steve Jobs would not approve.”
From my masters thesis in progress:
We’ve already seen that the Connectionist approach in Cognitive Science views knowledge as in some way made of connections. But the Buddhist negation of svabhava goes further than that – it sees reality itself as made of connections. Everything in this world is made of, dependent on, and actually is – other things. Reality is an interdependent, ever-changing, self-reflecting and echoing, infinitely self-referencing whole.
It is for this reason, fundamentally, that Buddhism suspects symbolic language: by its very nature language separates, defines, and confines — but in reality every reference is self-reference, every definition is incomplete or circular, every pointing finger points also at itself.
This is from a chapter I’m writing about building wisdom into artificially intelligent machines.
I found this fascinating new podcast about the Russian interference in the US Elections and their methods of undermining democracies around the world. It’s from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a bi-partisan American think tank. The first episode was very promising!
In 2016, a rival foreign power, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, launched an attack on the United States of America. What we now know is that American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia planned and executed a campaign to undermine our democracy and to affect our Presidential election.
For President Trump, Russia is a complicated subject. But this podcast isn’t about Donald Trump’s complications with Russia, nor is it about Republicans and Democrats. One of the dangers in the hyper partisan American debate over Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election is that it is blurring the larger picture. This three part podcast mini-series is about the larger picture. Episode one will look at why Russia meddled in our election; episode two will examine case studies of past Russian behavior; and episode three will discuss what the US can do to counter Russia’s actions.
Hosted by CSIS’s H. Andrew Schwartz, co-host of “Bob Schieffer’s About the News”
Podcast Website Here –
Apple Podcasts Link Here –
This short and sweet interview on the Intrepid Radio podcast dives into the idea behind the Book of Hard Truths.
Join me for a conversation that will very likely change how you look at your life. Today, joined by author Eran Dror, author of The Book of Hard Truths.
These “hard truths” are widely known and explored in religion & spirituality books, self-help books, psychology books, philosophy books, TED talks, etc. As Dror explains, he simply collected them, wrote them out as clearly as he could, and packaged them together in a new and compelling way. “I tried to create an emotional experience with the illustrations and the text, which will linger, “Dror writes. “My hope was that the book will provide a spark, which will get you thinking on your own about the truths you’ve been avoiding in your life.”
My longest interview yet, this interview on the Knowledge for Men Podcast is an exploration of The Book of Hard Truths.
Israeli born journalist, author and designer, Eran Dror has worked at various startups in NYC for nearly 10 years. Eran is the author of “The Book of Hard Truths” a book that brings into the light several hard, uncomfortable and unavoidable facts about life that we must all learn to accept.
Eran has recently taken an interest in Buddhist psychology and the ways we can apply it to our own lives to live with more presence.
Alexandra Levit of Intuit wrote this nice summary of some of the truths in The Book of Hard Truths that is getting tweeted around a bit.
Many tough life lessons are first explained to us in childhood but seem to go in one ear and out the other. Our failure to master these often results in professional agida.
As human beings, we tend to hold on to irrational ideas and fight against the inevitable. Based on Eran Dror’s new book, here are 10 difficult truths we all must recognize and then take steps to get over. Warning: some of this might be hard to hear and even harder to digest.
Check it out!
(I first wrote this post as a Quora answer a couple of days ago. I’m reposting here for your benefit.)
I’ve never lived in a country without freedom of speech, so I’m used to judging news outlets based on what I assume the owner’s editorial policy and agenda is, and it’s easy to compare different sources to get the full picture.
I have, however, studied the effects of censorship and state-control on speech during my history studies and later for my writing. I think these principles could help people identify when their news is significantly tainted with propaganda, whether state-controlled or otherwise:
- Too Simple – Truth is always complex and subtle. Any story that is too simple is not complete and therefore suspected propaganda. If you are not given facts that go against the primary narrative, then what you are reading is not reporting but an opinion piece disguised as reporting.
- No Disclosure of Biases – Every person has biases. When the person does not admit and disclose his biases in reporting, and does not acknowledge the possibility that others might disagree with him, that is likely propaganda.
- Single Interpretation – Facts have more than one interpretation. If you are only presented with one interpretation, someone wants you to draw particular conclusions. In which case, you may have to doubt the facts, too.
- Consistent Glamorization or Attacks – Reporting that consistently sucks up or glamorizes people in power is propaganda. The same is true of reporting that attacks certain people consistently and no matter what they do.
- Strong Emotional Tone – When there is a very strong emotional tone to the news, without an attempt at objective detachment, you know that there is at least grave risk of propaganda.
- Drowned Voices – When one side never gets to finish a sentence, when it is clear that interviews have been heavily edited, when one side of a debate is demonized without having a chance to speak for itself, that is very likely propaganda.
- Hypocricy & Contradictions – When obvious contradictions and hypocrisy are ignored: for instance one moment praising candidate X for doing something, the next condemning candidate Y for doing the same thing, this is propaganda.
Hope this helps!
(Originally published on Quora on March 16th, 2012)
I used to think that “What is the meaning of life?” is a misguided question, because it assumed the existence of a creator with an intention or a plan, which I never thought was warranted.
But I’ve come to realize that there’s a different way to think of meaning. I think when we ask “what is the meaning of life?” most of us really mean “How should I interpret life in the grand scheme of things? And what value should I assign it?” I think those are very good questions.As a confirmed Atheist, I nevertheless spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about life, its meaning, and how this meaning should guide us in our everyday lives. It’s almost a personal obsession of mine.
What follows is my best attempt at a universal “meaning”:
You are an intelligent being, and intelligent life is the latest, most awe inspiring stage in universal evolution. Its birth was the moment in which the universe has evolved the sufficient complexity to be able to perceive, direct, and re-imagine itself, and this process is only beginning – through you.
From the first micro-second of its existence, the universe has been a vast though inanimate battleground between two universal mathematical trends: order and chaos, creation and destruction, syntropy and entropy.
Your life, and human life in general, represent the universe’s single best hope in the battle against randomness, entropy, and chaos; the single best reason to believe that creative forces, order, and harmony will prevail.
The way to fulfill this promise is to think and act like an intelligent being. To find a use for that marvelous brain of yours in the service of progress. To create things that are good and useful. To empower others to do the same. And to be happy, truly happy, because that’s the only way to make sure that you are not a force of entropy after all.