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Nothing is Rocket Science—Weekly Wisdom 3rd November 2021

Also, the connection bet writing and reading, and a description of the moral panic around cancel culture.

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Welcome to Weekly Wisdom, your weekly dose of highlights, quotes and notes from my notebook. If you would like to receive this in your inbox, subscribe now.

This week I would like to share:

  • Search is Dead: Google has killed search as a useful tool online. Since I have written this essay, more and more details have come out how Google wants to limit open web. The internet has all the information we need. It is looking it up now that is the problem.

On to the main event.


This week’s quotes and notes:

Pearl-Clutching and Hand-Wringing

Over the past few years we have had a lot of pearl clutching and hand-wringing on Cancel Culture and the ‘illiberal left’ though essays in major publications. This essay reveals all of it for what it is; simple moral panic. It lists all the ways this pattern is not new. It also shows how the illiberal right is destroying free society. A fantastic read.

The Atlantic / Economist / Cato view appears to be that having a thought but not expressing it is some sort of rights violation. But it makes no sense to talk about a “political climate” that suppresses ideas without being specific about what those ideas are. Sixty years ago you could say, “Black people and white people shouldn’t get married” in nearly every church, workplace and college campus in the country. These days, people who hold that view hesitate to express it just about everywhere. Good.

—Michael Hobbes, The Methods of Moral Panic Journalism

The Meritocracy Myth

There is an aura of competency we project on people who are in authority. We conflate competency on success. But success is just as much luck as ability. More success does not mean more capability.

My friend Sam has this saying that, to the contrary, “Nothing is rocket science, even rocket science.”

This is one of those things I think you learn as you get a bit older. The same people that told you stories about Santa Claus are the people doing rocket science, the people running the largest corporations, the people running the government, the people shaping much of the world.

They’re probably not any more capable than anyone in this room – in fact, many of the people running the world are probably less capable than most of the people in this room.

—Andrew Kortina, The Emperor has no clothes…

Digging up Skeletons

How to read a book was a revelation. On it’s face, it seems redundant; how can a book teach you about reading a book. However, Mortimer Adler lays out how to get the most out of the books you read in a concise and smart manner. This excerpts reveals how reading is a lot like writing.

Writing and reading are reciprocal, as are teaching and being taught. If authors and teachers did not organize their communications, if they failed to unify them and order their parts, there would be no point in directing readers or listeners to search for the unity and uncover the structure of the whole. Nevertheless, although the rules are reciprocal, they are not followed in the same way. The reader tries to uncover the skeleton that the book conceals. The author starts with the skeleton and tries to cover it up.

—Mortimer J. Adler, How to read a Book


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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