Allergic Reactions—Somethings

Also, living through the internet, the fear of dark(space), and how the availability heuristic affects the zeitgeist.

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💡Something I learned

There is no faith without doubt

This small clip from a Bertrand Russell interview illustrates the value of doubt. Many of my leftists readers would disagree with his assessment of Marx, but the first part is very important to remember.

Whether due to environment or nature, there are some beliefs that are part of each individual being. We believe them because we believe them to be true. However, how do we know them to be true if we never question them.

Doubt allows you to confirm, improve, and even discard your beliefs. That is the only path to true enlightenment.

📺 Something to Watch

Intellectual Allergies

A consequence of never doubting yourself is that you develop what I call ‘Intellectual Allergies’. When encountered with information that counters your ideas, these allergies manifest in one of three ways.

  • Doubling Down/Extremism: You turn into a blind believer, reacting aggressively, and sometimes violently to all opposition.
  • Nihilism: You reject everything. For if your deepest held beliefs are false, then anything and everything might be false.
  • Jumping Ship: As illustrated in this video, you switch sides and become just as convinced that the opposing ideas are true.

All of these are not optimum outputs. We should expose ourselves to a variety of inputs. That is the only way to create a real picture.

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🗣Some Quotes and Notes

Availability Cascade

Have you ever wondered why some ideas become part of the zeitgeist so suddenly? Investor Marc Andreessen poses a hypothesis. It is based on the ideas of availability bias and social cascades.

Now, this is not to say the topic of the cascade ISN’T IMPORTANT — just that whether it’s important is secondary to whether it was AVAILABLE. Many important topics never trigger cascades; many unimportant topics do trigger cascades. Crucially, you cannot judge the importance of a topic by the presence, or size, or absence, of a cascade. The topic’s main function is as a Schelling point for generating and holding social cohesion; actual importance is secondary or even completely unnecessary.

— Marc Andreessen, On Availability Cascades


Human brains are fantastic pattern-recognition machines. This can be disadvantage though. We can see patterns in lieu of incomplete or missing information. Like how we react to darkness.

Emily Hughes, writing for, posits how space is the ultimate darkness.

…dark, empty spaces inevitably provoke thoughts of what might be hiding within—what if a set of attenuated fingers curled around the edge of your closet door at 3am? What if someone is waiting with a knife in the darkness under the bed? What if that noise echoing up from the bottom of the basement stairs wasn’t just the boiler? What if there is other intelligent life out there, and it wants us dead?

— Emily Hughes, Every Space Story Is a Horror Story

Living Through History

Younger readers have no concept of what the internet did to society. John Green, in an essay from his book The Anthropocene Reviewed, gives context for the madness.

My friend Stan Muller tells me that when you’re living in the middle of history, you never know what it means. I am living in the middle of the internet. I have no idea what it means.

— John Green, The Anthropocene Reviewed

Thank you for joining me this week. If you know some who might enjoy this, please forward this email to them. See you next week.

Mudassir Chapra

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