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Mind Your Brain
Exploring the complex love-hate relationship between our minds and our brains.
Hello and welcome to The Wisdom Project. Your weekly dose of human curated wisdom in a world full of algorithmic noise.
“Mind” and “Brain” are terms often used interchangeably by most people. But actually they convey very different meanings.
The Brain is a piece of hardware, the 1.5 kg package of grey matter that sits inside our skulls.
The Mind is the software that runs on top, its the operating system of our bodies. That is meant to control the brain and through it, the rest of the body. It also gives us a handle on the functioning of our selves.
Our ability to think, analyze, reflect, emerges here, our sense of self emerges here, our consciousness emerges here. Our mind is what separates us from the monkeys.
Well, some of us anyway.
Our brain is 10,000 year old hardware stuck in the modern world. Its not equipped to function in a prosperous society like ours. It still gorges on sugar and stores up fat in prep for famine. Its fraught with shortcuts to conserve energy, shortcuts that end up becoming biases which do more harm than good to us.
It still runs on the binaries of the fight or flight response.
Its our Mind’s job to rein in our Brain, to overcome the biases, to look over the shortcuts and think deeply. To find nuance between the binaries.
Its also our Mind’s job to make optimal use of the most advanced tool on the planet—our Brain.
This is a series we are calling “Mind Your Brain”, where we explore this complex love-hate relationship between our minds and our brains.
Every few weeks, we will pick one topic in the area, and take a deep dive.
This will not be the conventional curation of a bunch of external content, instead this will be more of our own reflections and observations about the topics.
But our focus will still be the same, to come up with content that teaches you something as well as forces you to think, without putting you to sleep in the process :P
Checkout the posts below—
Meta-Cognition: One Skill To Rule Them All | Wisdom Letter #45
What is your favorite song?
Or your most memorable song from your teenage years.
What comes to your mind when you think about it?
Does it evoke a visual memory along with it? Or a familiar fragrance comes to mind maybe? Or a particular person?
Maybe it brings to mind a phase in your life, the song represents a particular period of your history.
Every song that is memorable to you is like a page out of the the book of your life. There are multiple sensory impressions on each page. And thinking about one impression, brings everything else along with it to the mind as well.
But why does that happen? My question was intended to evoke an auditory memory, but your brain also invoked all the other sensory memories associated with that time and place.
Why did it happen?
Have you ever examined the roots of your thoughts?
Neurons that Fire Together, Wire Together!
Confirmation Bias: Why we live in Filter Bubbles, how they harm us, and what can we do about them? | Wisdom Letter #49
Have you heard about filter bubbles?
Its the idea that we only encounter opinions on the internet which are very similar to our own. The various social media algorithms tune their recommendations to serve us content that they already know we like.
Our social media feeds are based on the type of content that we have interacted with before. This results in the narrowing down of the kind of content we consume online, It reduces the probability of us interacting with any ideas and opinions not conforming to our own.
The Feedback Loop
This algorithmic curation turns into an endless feedback loop, a vicious circle, and the scope of our content consumption keeps getting narrower and narrower.
What results is a kind of a bubble of thoughts and ideas that we end up spending most of our online lives in.
These bubbles are called "Filter Bubbles".
Sometime they are also referred to as "Echo Chambers".
That's because we build walls around ourselves that echo back our own ideas and thoughts day in and day out. We don't interact with non-conforming opinions, which prevents us from ever breaking down these walls and ever escaping our echo chambers.
Status Quo Stickiness | Wisdom Letter #57
Do you understand inertia?
Think middle-school physics. Think Newton’s first law of motion.
Inertia is the tendency of a body to stick to its current conditions in the absence of an external force. Moving objects tend to stay moving, still objects tend to stay still. Only an outside force can change their current state.
This is so true for us humans as well.
We tend to stick to our defaults more often than not.
Many a times this tendency causes more harm to us than good, but we still prefer the known over the unknown.
This human tendency is called Status Quo Bias.
Boiling Frog Syndrome
Status Quo bias is closely related to the concept of boiling frog syndrome that we keep talking about so often here.
The idea is that if a frog is put in boiling water it will immediately jump out and save itself. But if its put in tepid water and heated slowly then it will cook itself to death. Incremental increase in temperature will not lead the frog to sense the danger of the boiling water.
It will stick to its known conditions even when they are harming it.
It will stick to to the status quo.
Many of us are living like a boiling frog in some aspect of our life.
For some its their physical health, for some its their financial health, and for some its their psychological health.
🧠Know Your Narratives | Wisdom Letter #65
Do you know when did the Bolshevik revolution start? Or the roles of the important players in that revolution. Any details about the toppling of the czarist regime or the birth of USSR?
Hard to remembers right? Unless you’re Russian of course.
Have you read Animal Farm?
Its a brilliant piece of literature that captures the essence of the Bolshevik revolution. It portrays a group of animals living in a farm who revolt against their owner, push him out and establish self rule.
Each animal in the farm represents a character from the Russian revolution, the lessons you learn about them perhaps teach you more than any other history book about the event.
There’s a line in the book that captures the worst of communism gone wrong —
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
This one statement says a lot more about communism’s problems than any other elaborate critique.
There’s a reason why Animal Farm works so well, and there’s a reason why this quote works so well in making the point.
The secret lies in the Power of Narratives.
This post is not about the Russian Revolution, its not about communism, its not even about George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
Instead its about the vulnerability of our brain in falling for narratives.
Hello and welcome to The Wisdom Project, your weekly dose of human curated wisdom in a world full of algorithmic noise. Today we are talking about The Narrative Fallacy.
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