Anyoung! Welcome to this week's digest. This is the special holiday edition, where I give you exactly the same content as any other week, PLUS a reminder that Christmas in Hollis is an amazing song. And it's Mom's 70th birthday today (Happy birthday!!) This week's topics include mindful technology, freedom of speech, finding purpose, raising kid and adults, and self-experimentation. I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with love and connection!!

xoxoxo <3
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (AKA I have a lot to learn from you)

Richard, replying to
Amazon Is Filled With Sketchy Reviews. Here’s How to Spot Them: I recently read Bezos's shareholder letters going back to '97 and was blown away by them. Perhaps I have become too idealistic about his and the company's ambitions following that, but I genuinely believe his response would be something along the lines of, "fake reviews are bad for our customers; we prioritize customer experience and trust in our platform above absolutely all else, believing that is how we maximize long-term profits, even at the sacrifice of short-term profits; ergo, we must eradicate sources of doubt in terms of the validity and value of our user reviews in order to maintain trust with our customers."

I appreciate your optimism and reminder of Amazon's long-term outlook (and use of "ergo")! Assuming this is the case, I am genuinely curious why the problem currently exists to the extent that it does. Is the fake review problem simply not a priority? Is Amazon (temporarily) losing the battle to fake reviewers despite reasonable efforts?

: Siempo is the first Android launcher that transforms your phone into a more intentional, less distracting experience. If you want a calmer interface, prioritizing notifications from humans over machines, sign up for the beta here. iOS will be available in 2018!

Note: In related news, TechCrunch published an article this week, The technology industry needs to think more seriously about device addiction, that shares recent research on this problem. Per that article, "Everyone is screaming to the consumer and doing whatever they can to get their attention while not considering the long term ramifications of such excessive stimuli."

- E Pur Si Muove - I agree with three of Sam Altman's points in particular. 1) I strongly prefer debating ideas openly, especially relative to hiding behind ad hominem dismissals (e.g., "thought X is evil"; or comes from an "evil" person, so best not debate it). 2) The genius required for game-changing innovation includes seeing the world in a different way, which can have an ominous side to it. 3) An environment of fear is not inviting to trying new things or ways of thinking.
  • ...the true and unpopular ideas are what drive the world forward
  • ...nearly all ideas that turn out to be great breakthroughs start out sounding like terrible ideas
  •’s possible we have to allow people to say disparaging things... we can’t just call the person a heretic.  We need to debate the actual idea.
  • ...if you’re constantly thinking about how everything you say might be misinterpreted, you won’t let the best ideas get past the fragment stage.
  • ...I accept that censorship is not going to make the world be the way I wish it were.
PODCAST - The Reboot Podcast: Chasing Purpose - Jerry talks with filmmaker Jeff Orlowski about his journey to discover his aliveness and meaning through his work.
  • A lot of people will come and say I'm seeking purpose... I think they are looking in the wrong spot. Joseph Campbell once said, "People looking for purpose are really looking for a feeling of aliveness." I would add to that the aliveness comes from congruity. It comes from moving towards alignment, where the inner and the outer express themselves... When we live in this compartmentalized way, there's all this pain and suffering that we create. But when we open ourselves up to the danger and risk of actually living in a way that is congruent, what ends up happening is we naturally live into purpose.
ARTICLE - The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone - I agree that credentialism leads to individually dominant choices that also leave society worse off. However, I am curious about the more subjective, holistic elements of higher education. Could the same benefits of "adulting" be garnered through vocational training? Is it morally wrong to hold the cynical view that the vast majority of people simply will not benefit enough from a liberal arts education? Basically, if the "job-to-be-done" is to create adults armed with skills for modern labor, I am skeptical that college is the best path for most people to realize that end result.
  • From kindergarten on, students spend thousands of hours studying subjects irrelevant to the modern labor market... The labor market doesn’t pay you for the useless subjects you master; it pays you for the preexisting traits you signal by mastering them... The main effect is not better jobs or greater skill levels, but a credentialist arms race.
  • Those who believe that college is about learning how to learn should expect students who study science to absorb the scientific method, then habitually use it to analyze the world. This scarcely occurs.
  • Non-economists—also known as normal human beings—lean holistic: We can’t measure education’s social benefits solely with test scores or salary premiums. Instead we must ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in—an educated one or an ignorant one? ... I embrace the ideal of transformative education. I believe wholeheartedly in the life of the mind. What I’m cynical about is people.
  • ...a great majority of the extra education workers received was deployed not to get better jobs, but to get jobs that had recently been held by people with less education.
WEBSITE - Buffett FAQ - I have a tendency to want to aggregate, curate, and synthesize bodies of knowledge... this website is a shining example of that, applied to one of my favorite thinkers.

ARTICLE - The Fragile Generation - A vivid example of good intentions leading to bad outcomes. It is easy to write this off as an older generation simply basking in the nostalgia of the good old days, or letting our confirmation bias focus us only on the crazy outliers rather than the median reality. But when I shared this article with friends who are parents, the response I got is best summarized by "This was so timely, you have no idea." (Thank you Nikki for the amazing summary :D)
  • The principle here is simple: This generation of kids must be protected like none other. They can't use tools, they can't play on grass, and they certainly can't be expected to work through a spat with a friend... We told a generation of kids that they can never be too safe—and they believed us.
  • ...if they don't develop the resources to work through obstacles, molehills come to look like mountains...  By trying so hard to protect our kids, we're making them too safe to succeed.
  • It's tempting to blame "helicopter parents" for today's less resilient kids. But when all the first-graders are walking themselves to school, it's easy to add yours to the mix. When your child is the only one, it's harder. And that's where we are today. Norms have dramatically changed. The kind of freedom that seemed unremarkable a generation ago has become taboo, and in some cases even illegal.
  • When we don't let our kids do anything on their own, we don't get to see just how competent they can be—and isn't that, ultimately, the greatest reward of parenting? We need to make it easier for grown-ups to let go while living in a society that keeps warning them not to.
  • By trying to keep children safe from all risks, obstacles, hurt feelings, and fears, our culture has taken away the opportunities they need to become successful adults. In treating them as fragile—emotionally, socially, and physically—society actually makes them so.
ARTICLE - Why Trying New Things Is So Hard to Do - A vulnerable exploration of the benefits of experimenting in our lives.
  • Experimentation is an act of humility, an acknowledgment that there is simply no way of knowing without trying something different.
  • Overconfidence also holds us back. I am unduly certain in my guesses of what the alternatives will be like, even though I haven’t tried them.
  • When the same choice is made over and over again, the downside of trying something different is limited and fixed... while the potential gains are disproportionately large. One study estimated that 47 percent of human behaviors are of this habitual variety.
ARTICLE - The Best of 2017: Research Insights and Other Breakthroughs - A wonderful summary of health and wellness research from 2017. This digest has covered some of these breakthroughs (*pats self on back*), but certainly not all of them. Mark's work comes from a biased (Paleo) lens, but the facts are still the facts, even with some op-ed framing.

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