Friday Finds (Singapore, Philosophy, Horses, Diet, Family)

Read in your browser here.

Hi friends,

Greetings from Denver!

We'll be releasing the introductory lecture about René Girard sometime in mid-April, and as a subscriber to this newsletter, you'll be the first to hear about it.

The Girard lectures are part of a larger, multi-year project that I'm tentatively calling "Explain the Greats."

History has gifted us with so many important thinkers whose ideas haven't been well synthesized into a lecture format. I'd like to rectify that. Over the next few decades, I'd like to work with experts to deliver the canonical series about their worldview. Instead of focusing on the high-level ideas like most of the stuff on YouTube, they'll have the depth you find in a graduate school-level course. The ultimate vision is to have a hub where you can listen to quality lectures about the Western canon for free.

Here's what I want to share this week:

  1. How Philosophers Think: We study great writers not just to absorb their ideas but to understand how they think too. In the past few years, I've been lucky to spend a bunch of time with trained philosophers and in this essay, I explore how they think. You'll leave with principles like the Spotlight Effect and Chauffeur Knowledge that you can apply to your own life. You can read the essay here.
  2. Never-Ending Now: The Internet traps us in a perpetual present, which blinds us to history and makes life more chaotic than it needs to be. I've published a mini-essay on the subject and now, a full-on YouTube video.

Today's Finds

Why Are People So Fat?: Put this one in the “interesting, but I don’t know what to make of it” category. It’s a multi-part series about the reasons why Americans have gotten so much more overweight. 100 years ago, the average American male weighed 155 pounds. Today, that number has climbed up to 195. Horses and wild animals are getting fatter too. Craziest of all, the author argues that maybe, just maybe, the obesity epidemic isn’t the direct result of diet, carbs, sugar, fat, calories, or any of the conventional culprits. This is a longggggg series and you can find all the installments here.

Predicting Horse Races: When it comes to predicting the future, too much information can be a bad thing. This transcript tells the story of a study done by a world-class psychologist named Paul Slovic in 1974 and shows how horse gamblers can deceive themselves as the amount of information increases. Substitute horse gamblers with investors and this article becomes even more interesting. If you’re interested in predictions, check out Dominic Cummings’ review of Superforecasters.

Sumner Redstone: Wealth and success are cool, but not if you turn out like this. Redstone built a chain of successful movie theaters early in his career. At 56, he was almost burned alive in a fire. Out of his miraculous survival, he ramped up his ambitions and, after a hostile takeover, became the Chairman of Viacom. But his relentless lust for power fractured his family relationships. He’s gone to court against his brother, son, nephew, wife, and granddaughter.

Singapore: A series of four outstanding Reddit posts which summarized Lee Kuan Yew’s book, From Third World to First. The posts will take you a few hours to read, but you’ll leave with a deep understanding of how the country operates. If these ideas interest you, you’ll also enjoy my essay on the history of Singapore.

The Nuclear Family: This is an exceptional explanation of why big families aren’t as common as they used to be. Many of the major political battles, such as free healthcare and universal basic income, are downstream from the way family structures have changed. This string of ideas summarizes the essay well: "We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children. We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families." But this piece goes deeper in order to ask: What happened?

Have a creative week,

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