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Good Reads for a Great Year
Wisdom Letter #70
Hello and welcome to The Wisdom Project — your weekly dose of human curated wisdom in a world full of algorithmic noise.
There’s a certain beauty to a well written essay.
A good writer can write poetry in long form content. A good article informs the reader as well as amazes her. And by the time she’s done reading it, leaves here a little more wiser.
We read a lot of blogs and articles almost on a daily basis. While some are quite specific to a niche, and some are very zoomed in to the current year, there are a few articles which pass on timeless wisdom to the reader.
Today we take a look back at 5 such posts. These are the 5 best articles of 2020. Hope they help you have a great 2021.
Back in March 2020, just two months into the pandemic, Morgan Housel tried to predict the long term consequences of the Corona Virus through the lens of economic history.
It’s worth a read even today. It starts like this—
“Drive past the Pentagon and there is no trace of the plane that crashed into its walls almost 19 years ago. But drive three minutes down the road, to Reagan National Airport, and the scars of September 11th are everywhere. Shoes off, jackets off, belts off, toothpaste out, hands up, and empty your water bottle.
We’ll recover from COVID-19, however long it takes. Stores will reopen, businesses will rebuild. The wounds will heal just like they did after September 11th.
But what about the scars?”
Checkout the whole thing —
We even did a podcast reflecting on India’s long lasting scars.
In its 250 year history, America has been revered, feared and envied by the rest of the world. But perhaps for the first time ever, in 2020 America was pitied by everyone else.
This article from Rolling Stone magazine captures the heart of the issue. It’s scathing towards Donald Trump, but more importantly it’s critical of American society that can produce a president like Mr. Trump.
COVID-19 didn’t lay America low; it simply revealed what had long been forsaken. As the crisis unfolded, with another American dying every minute of every day, a country that once turned out fighter planes by the hour could not manage to produce the paper masks or cotton swabs essential for tracking the disease. The nation that defeated smallpox and polio, and led the world for generations in medical innovation and discovery, was reduced to a laughing stock as a buffoon of a president advocated the use of household disinfectants as a treatment for a disease that intellectually he could not begin to understand.
Read the whole thing here—
We have faced a great disaster in 2020, and we are still going through it.
Our experience will make sure that we are prepared for a virus outbreak in the future. But the next big disaster might not be a virus at all, and we might not be prepared for it again.
Availability bias causes us to prepare for the last disaster.
This article from Farnam Street goes deeper into why this happens, and what we can do about it.
It starts like this—
When something goes wrong, we often strive to be better prepared if the same thing happens again. But the same disasters tend not to happen twice in a row. A more effective approach is simply to prepare to be surprised by life, instead of expecting the past to repeat itself.
If we want to become less fragile, we need to stop preparing for the last disaster.
Checkout the whole article—
Most of us live with borrowed opinions. We look towards other people for how to think about certain issues and topics.
We are too lazy to hold original opinions. We are too comfortable to think for ourselves.
We saw groupthink in full flow in 2020, and it helped the virus more than the human.
Paul Graham wrote an essay that holds timeless wisdom on the art of thinking for ourselves.
By the time they reach adulthood, most people know roughly how smart they are (in the narrow sense of ability to solve pre-set problems), because they're constantly being tested and ranked according to it. But schools generally ignore independent-mindedness, except to the extent they try to suppress it. So we don't get anything like the same kind of feedback about how independent-minded we are.
There may even be a phenomenon like Dunning-Kruger at work, where the most conventional-minded people are confident that they're independent-minded, while the genuinely independent-minded worry they might not be independent-minded enough.
Read the whole thing, this is mind expanding stuff—
We love writing. We may not be very good at it, but it’s a therapeutic process for us. It helps us solidify our experiences and learnings from across domains.
The last piece we share today is a fun little read on the benefits of writing.
Structuring your thoughts into the written word is like assembling these gold nuggets into a cohesive shape.
Writing anything feels sluggish at first – you’re dusting off the cobwebs on your nuggets and realizing how difficult it is to piece them together. The ideas feel disjointed, and the mixing of personal experience with other peoples’ observations of the world can be confusing and puzzling.
However, if you stay committed to the practice, the once-scattered pieces start melding into something concrete. You realize that the insight you gleaned from that one author aligns well with something you’ve personally observed in life, and this observation can be framed using an analogy that’s been tucked away in your subconscious for quite some time
We try to write a bit everyday.
If you don’t, then this is a good time to start a daily writing habit, new year and all.
Don’t write for an audience, write for yourself, write just to have a physical manifestation of your thoughts, you will be amazed by what your mind can do.
Read the whole article from ‘More To That’.
Thank you for reading.
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This was Wisdom Letter #70. In case you want to revisit any of the previous 69 letters, checkout our entire archive.
Aditi & Ayush
Happy New Year💖