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The Policy of Truth—Weekly Wisdom

On the pointlessness of successes & failures, cherry picking science, tribalism, my favourite album and what is money, anyway?

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💡Something I learned

Entitlement can be infectious

Social Media promotes a culture of entitlement. Every celebrity post has at least one comment on to the effect of ‘nobody cares’ or ‘this is stupid’. The former comment is self-negating; writing it signifies that the author does care. And the latter is self-defeating comment. Besides that, there is an assumption baked in to them. “I deserve to see and experience what I want and things I don’t want should not exist.’

This sort of entitlement extends to the self as well; ‘I am a good person, therefore only good things should happen to me’. This is a disaster for mental health. And it keeps spreading.

📺Something to watch

What is money

A simple, ‘stupid’ question with such a complex answer.

🎵Somethings to listen

I usually do not mention music but some of my favorite artists passed away over the past week.

  • Violator: Andy Fletcher was the keyboardist and cofounder of the band Depeche Mode. He passed away He was responsible for shaping their sound. Violator is one of their best albums, and one of my favorites. It laid the foundation for everything from European electronic music to heavy metal. The link above is from Youtube, but you can also listen to it on Apple Music and Spotify.
  • KK: KK was an Indian Singer. He passed away last night after a concert. For people my age, he sang pretty much all the iconic songs. This unplugged performance is one of his best.

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🗣Some Quotes and Notes

Picking Cherries

A great look at how cherry-picked science leads bad writing

And you’re done! You’ve cooked up a piece that seems to be evidence-based while also making the point you wanted to make from the beginning. You get bonus points for making it clear that you don’t have any personal attachment to the position you’re arguing for (in fact, you’re instinctively sceptical of it). If you’re writing a fairly short op-ed, you don’t even need to write any proper details about the studies, you just link to the meta-analysis after giving some anecdotes that support your position.

—Sam Atis, How to write a bad article

Drum Beatings

While I disagree with the conclusion of this article, the premise is solid. We do see an emergence of tribalism in modern day.

But now the language of tribes and tribalism is everywhere you look. And it’s a good thing, too. The return of the discussion of tribes is a metaphorical recognition of the shallowness of much of modern liberalism, with its awkwardness about the human need for recognition, belonging and group attachment, along with its implicit claim that society is just a random collection of individuals.

This deracination of the educated class helps to explain the sharpness of the cultural divide over the Brexit vote — most of those who voted to remain in the European Union had no friends who voted for Brexit and vice-versa. Few graduates of elite universities have any close friends who are non-graduates. Because of this, the task of political reconciliation in our liberal societies is especially hard in the U.K. But the goal is simple enough: liberal pluralism tempered by the common good.

—David Goodhart, Why liberal societies need moderate nationalism

Short-lived celebrations

Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in economics a few years. Upon winning he had this to say. It encapsulates all celebration ever. Life does not care about your success. The good news; it does not care about your failures.

So I had a pretty happy life, as you know, I have a nice wife and I have kids I love. And yes, this made me happy. And it was very gratifying. But you have this image that you’re going to be on cloud nine. And then there is life, you still get flat tires even if you have a Nobel Prize. You still have leaks at home that nobody seems to be able to fix. So they need to fix that and say that if you get a Nobel Prize, nothing can leak in your house.

—Richard Thaler, Freakonomist Radio


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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