Here we have some of the books I've read, and for which I thought it was worth taking notes while reading, so I could write a review later on
Bought this book in Ealing, back in 2012. I don't remember well in which shop, but I did note in an annotation in the book that I was with Mercedes. I don't think this is a book that is going to make history, or a must read for everyone. Nevertheless, it does contain some interesting stuff about how to face Life following a "scientific" approach and most importantly how to relate to others and understand their motives. Bathing in my arrogance, I started the book with no much hope of learning anything new ("like a frog on a well who thinks that the small circle of blue sky is all there is above the well"), but got to admit that some of the NLP concepts (Neuro Linguistic Programming) in this book presented to me new lines of thought that are worth embracing
Some of the bits that I liked the most about this book was the clear explanation between the "thru-time" people and the "in-time" people, as well as the different kind of recalls we may have: visual, internal dialogue, auditory construct, etc
Here we have some extracts from this book that I absolutely love:
- You may not know how to act differently and find the change awkward and unnatural. This in itself will create a tug for you, a feeling that something isn't right, and you may want to revert to your more usual behaviour. If this happens, remind yourself why you want to change and that the tug will diminish the more you repeat the new behaviour. Think of the tug as a signal that you are making a transition from an old habit to a new, healthier one, and this will help you to become more flexible as a person
- Limiting Beliefs; question everything that you know that limits yourself. Do you have any prove of that Believe? Be aware of them!
- You can't see a Believe or touch it. Beliefs have no physical form other than the activity in your mind, but we need them in order to survive and thrive. Beliefs are powerful. Even though you can't see one, you can observe the results of a Beliefs very clearly. In the extreme, Beliefs are fuel for both suicide bombers and peace activists. What you belief has an impact on every aspect of your life. For some it may have a positive effect, for others it clearly does not
- Think of Beliefs and Values as a tree. The Values form the stable trunk and the Beliefs are the fruit. Sometimes the fruit is fresh and nutritious, sometimes it rots. Every now and again, it's worth giving the branches a good shake so that old and unwanted Beliefs fall to the ground
- Everything begins with a Thought and that Thought will attract similar ones until you have a cluster of thoughts. That cluster becomes a pattern of thinking, which form a habit. The habit will then be applied to many different scenarios. Scientist believe that the Conscious Mind is able to cope with only about seven pieces of information at any one time and can become overloaded very quickly
- A problem only exist in your mind, outside of your mind there are only a set of circumstances
- Is you behaviour aligned with your thinking? Happiness is a state of mind, and you arrive to it by being congruent with your actions. If you decide to be unhappy, you will be. This is just how Life works, nothing magical about this
- The key is to develop "curiosity" about what is causing a person to behave in such a way
- When you are having a tough day and your mind is working flat out to meet deadlines, stress accumulates in your body (your may become tense and your breathing erratic). Your body will reacts to whatever changes your mind goes through and vice versa
- Be aware of your own, as others are likely to be making judgements about you from your posture, gesture or tone of voice
- A smarter way to have your ideas accepted is to connect them with the ideas already held by the other person
- Observe carefully: if you are selling, then you want your customer to be in a "buying" state. Having the sensory acuity to notice when a person is processing in downtime is fundamental to building rapport, pacing and leading and, ultimately ,effective communication
- It is not so much the content of what you are saying, that ensures you make the connection, but the way you say it. Your language is just the superficial expression of the structure of your experience, behind which lies your kaleidoscope of values and beliefs
- Your personal perception of events is called your "map of reality"
- You have programmes for everything you do; all the programmes consist of sequences of thoughts and behaviours that are triggered by certain stimuli
- Whatever aspect of your Life you want to improve, you can bet there is a strategy you are currently using that is holding you back, either creating inertia or producing undesirable results. The key is to know the beginning and end of each strategy so that you can change it
- Watch out for the Rules that limit your potential, and focus instead in the other Rules that keep you open to the world of possibilities
- Everything starts with one thought. If you are in control of your thoughts, you are in control of your behaviour and, therefore, your results
Bought it Daunt Books (the Chelsea store now shutdown for good) in August 2016. This book will ignite in you the passion for hoverflies and open your eyes to their existence. I always thought that those insects were bees, and it is funny now to see how the pretty girls in the parks all around London get up from their lunches, on the grass, and wave their hands in fear to the passing of hoverflies, in fear of being sting by them. They have been fooling people for million of years! Hoverflies are insect camouflaged like bees, they do not have stings, they are just flies that be evolution have chosen to look like bees, to prevent the birds and other animals from eating them
The book is a nice read, but it could have been a lot better. Instead of a personal biography or insight of the author, it could have been transformed into a research on the life of Rene Malaise with a hint of adventure, where the author could start discovering things as he deeps into the life of Rene, instead of merely describing it as an anecdotal events. I missed more of Rene and less of the personal life of the author. All his ideas could be masquerade on the life of Rene. Overall, however, I recommend it!
Got this amazing book in September 2016, from Foyles, Covent Garden, London. This is a great piece of work by Josh Kaufman that I would recommend absolutely to everyone. It contains not only a great deal of information for anyone doing an MBA, as it says on the title, but also and most importantly a huge deal of sound advice about how to face life both professionally and within the inner workings of your mind. Definitely a must read for everyone.
Quotes that I love from this book:
"It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong" (Jonh Maynard Keynes)
"People don't like to be sold, but they love to buy" (Jeffrey Gitomer)
"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get" (Warren Buffett)
"Don't build better cameras, build in the process better photographers" (Kathy Sierra)
"In nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments, there are consequences" (Robert G. Ingersoll)
"When I was young, I thought money was the most important thing in the life. Now that I'm old, I know it is" (Oscard Wilde)
"Action comes about if and only if we find a discrepancy between what we are experiencing and what we want to experience" (Philip J. Runkel)
"We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are" (Anais Nin)
"No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one...Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable" (Dwight D. Eisenhower)
The only limits are on your brain
Here are some of the sections (described to my own understanding) that I personally liked the most:
- Critical Assumptions; do your research well before embarking on a new project, and focus on the facts, that will prevent you from failing
- Field Testing; nothing better than eating the food that you produce, wearing the gear that you manufacture an following the norms that you dictate. On any new project, use the final product as much as possible in order to improve it and identify flows
- The Universal currencies; they are resources, time and flexibility, where resources is the stuff that you put to get stuff that you want, time is just that and flexibility is the amount of sacrifice that you are willing to put to balance the other two currencies; every project is composed of these 3 currencies one way or another, identify them well
- Sufficiency; money is just a tool, very true, it is just a medium to get what we think we want; money is not the end result after all but is the most popular tool to get the end result (happiness with family, etc)
- The Onion Brain; "one of the best things you can do to get more done is to dissociate yourself from the voice in your head", so true! "A few moments of meditation every day can be the difference between feeling scared and overwhelmed and feeling in control of your destiny"
- Reference Level; Nobody likes pain, but "f you are in the process of getting a tattoo, pain receptors firing is an acceptable situation"; you need to define your reference levels, what you actually understand for pleasure, pain or value before investing on a project
- Guding Structure; yes, you need to setup rules, hash but fair, like for example the "Sterile Cockpit Rule" where pilots can only talk about the flight below 10,000 feet, above that altitude all other conversations are allowed,what did you do on the weekend, etc
- Interpretation and re-interpretation; "It is entirely possible to change your beliefs and Mental Simulations consciously by recalling and actively Reinterpreting past events. Reinterpretation is possible because your memory is fundamentally impermanent. Our memories aren't like computer disks, every time we recall a memory it doesn't re-save it to the same location or in the same state. Every time we recall something, the memory is saved in a different location with a twist: the new memory will include any alterations that we have made to it. Reinterpret your past, and you'll enhance your ability to make great things happen in the present".
"Reinterpret your past mistakes in a constructive light, and focus your energy on what you can do right now to move in a positive direction".
- Motivation; "motivation is an emotion, NOT a logical, rational activity", the logical behaviour is derived from the emotion
- Cognitive Scope Limitation; this is an amazing concept by which more or less we can only take about 150 relationships with people, according to Dunbar's Theory (though I personally believe that "healthy" or "fulfilling" relationship would be a lot less). It is really valuable to know this concept and to know and be aware of your own cognitive limitation at the time of approaching people and doing stuff
- Novelty; another beautiful concept for both your life and professional endeavours: "Human attention requires novelty to sustain itself. Continue to offer something new, and people will pay attention to what you have to offer"
- Akrasia; meaning "lacking command over oneself", it is all of word for a concept that has been hitting (and hit) us since the dawn of mankind. Akrasia is not like procrastination, it can be easily identified when you add the "should" to whichever action that you have long consider but never actually started.
- Cognitive Switching Penalty; "eliminate unproductive context switching, and you'll get more done with less effort", this sound so logical but nobody applies it: if you are writing a report, don't take calls on that time and avoid precisely that, unproductive context switching, it will take a while for your mind to re-concentrate when you go back to the subject
- Five-Fold Why; another powerful concept to put into practise, this consist of asking yourself five times "why" to discover the root causes of what you want. "Discover the root causes behind your goals, and you'll discover new ways to get what you actually want", for example, to the question: I want a million pounds:
- Why do you want a million pounds? because I want to buy a house
- Why do you want to buy a house? because I want me and my girlfriend to live in there
- Why do you want you and your girlfriend to live in a house? because we want to live together
- Why do you want to live together? because we want to create a family
- Why do you want to create a family? because we want to create a family (that's the root reason of you wanting a million pounds!) nice ah?
- Doomsday Scenario; this concept explores the idea that our brains assume threats as life-or-death situation, that's why when we have no money or no love we feel so vulnerable and about to die. Life continues, don't be pessimistic
- Confirmation Bias; "paradoxically, one of the best ways to figure out whether or not you're right, is to actively look for information that proves that you're wrong"
- Hedonic Treadmill; this is a cycle by which we pursue things that we think will make us happy, to ultimately no longer make us happy once we got them
- Attachment; you cannot change a single bit of the past, no a single second, therefore: "the more you focus and accept the things that have happened and choose to work on things that you can do to make things better, the happier you'll be"
- Communication Overhead; another massively useful concept, the more people on your team the more the communication needed and the less effectiveness achieved
- Reason Why; "people will be more receptive to any request if you give them a reason why. Any reason will do"
Commander's Intent; this is a master rule for delegation, explain the overall purpose and let them take the actions needed to achieve the goal
- Option Orientation; "focus on options, not issues, and you'll be able to handle any situation life throws at you"
- Performance-Based hiring; "the best predictor of future behaviour is past performance"
- Gall's Law; "all complex systems that work evolved from simpler systems that worked", in other words: start simple, be a new relationship (don't start giving the ring away on the 3rd date) or embracing a new professional career
- Flow; "follow the flow, and you're on your way to understanding how the system works"
- Constraint; to increase performance, eliminates first of all constrains, if at the time of making coffee you never find a spoon, stick one to the wall with a rope
- Uncertainty; "Contemplating uncertainty feels bad, because not knowing what's going to happen feels like a threat. Instead of fixating on predicting the future and invisible and unknown threats, it's better to channel your energy into enhancing your ability to handle the unexpected"
- Second-Order effects; "approach making changes to a complex system with extreme caution: what you get may be the opposite of what you expect"
- Intervention Bias; this is a concept by which humans are likely to introduce changes on a system that are not necessary in order to feel in control of the situation. It's definitely worth always exploring the "null hypothesis", virtually do nothing and see what happens
- The Experimental Mind-Set; "You learn the most of what doesn't go well. As long as your mistakes don't kill you, paying attention to what doesn't work can give you useful information you can use to discover what does work. All failure are temporary, what you learn in the process always helps you move forward", in other words: setup that lab before that given upgrade! lol
This is a pleasant book to read while commuting, it will undoubtedly expand your general knowledge and will definitely temp you -on the next morning- to take a longer route to work, so you have just that few extra minutes to enjoy this fine reading. Have you ever question yourself the origin of the word "idiot"? With his gentle writing, Theodore will tell you all about it (idiot = a person who doesn't vote, who does not take part in politics affairs). He also teaches that Art is how we see the Universe. The book is composed of a number of chapters each mapping to the biography of a person that is so interesting to read. These are some of the notes I could not help myself but smiling as I was reading them:
- Some people might want entirely different pleasures if only they knew about them
- My only qualification for writing this book is that I would like to know more clearly what a full life could be
- Secondly, I shall cross the most formidable barrier that separates humans, the barrier of death. I see people as living in the past as much as in the present, perpetuating ideas and habits from long ago, though often without being aware of it. To be poor is not only to be short of money, but also to posses only one's own memories. [...] Never has been so much of the past alive. [...] Moreover, through to be modern was supposed to mean living in the present and liberating oneself from ancient tyrannies by banishing and forgetting the past, old traditions have survive with a tenaciousness that was never expected. Adding other people's memories to one's own memories transforms one's ideas of what it is possible to do in a lifetime
- Wars which kill and destroy have ceased to be as glamorous as they once were
- Humanity's great adventures were undertaken by a few determined people who disagreed with almost everyone else
- Ideas nearly always change when they move into another mind
- I prefer to devote that time (my time) to finding a gift that will express my gratitude to the world for tolerating my presence
- "Lying to yourself is the biggest sin of all". Perhaps it is the most widespread sin too
- Even when painting an egg....he found that each egg was different
- The first duty of Love is to listen
- To be an artist in China meant not just finding beauty in nature, but discovering one's place in it
- "Nowadays, people have too many wishes and a thousand ways of satisfying them; they are ruled by their passions"
- One of the greatest compliments one can pay another is to show interest in them. One of the best ways of enriching oneself is to learn what others think. Humans do not always have to imitate the snail which retreats into its shell at the slightest sign of danger
- Understanding does not eliminate disagreement, but it transforms disagreement into an enriching experience
- If ideals inevitably lose their delicate and intoxicating flavour when frozen into laws, what future is there for them?
- Though the body may live longer, the spirit too often dies an early death
- It was not that Machiavelli wanted princess to be ruthless, he simply observed that he4y had to be ruthless to remain princess
- Unfortunately, once turned into realities, ideals cease to be beautiful butterflies with multi-coloured wings fluttering among the flowers, and become mere worms that eat the corpses of hope
- According to researches who like to put numbers even on such matters, people are attracted first of all by appearance (55%), then by the style of speaking (38%) and much less by what is actually being said (7%). Is that an additional clue to what another sexual revolution might concern itself with?
- There is no longer any need to regard sexual desire as comparable to hunger for food. One reason why there has been more progress in cooking that in sex is that cooking does not simply aim to feed individual appetites but also fosters conviviality, making eating into a feast dedicated to entertaining, charming and surprising guests of many kinds and expanding knowledge about the variety of foods and tastes the world over. By contrast, sex has become private and secret
- People are so starved of affection, not only of receiving affection but also of opportunities to give it, that they offer it to celebrities they have never met, and do not complain that they get none back in return
- Power, Sophist say, come from control of the emotions (an idea revived many centuries later as 'emotional intelligence'
- What it is worth being busy about and what to do with time Saving time in the name of efficiency, fighting time because there is never enough, killing time because it moves too slowly, spending time as though it is money, when time is obviously more precious than money
- A home may begin as a refugee where one can have one's own possessions around one, but it evolves into a place which one values above all because it is where it is an important to feel understood, and to be able to share one's woes and joys with people who appreciate one another
- Loyalty cards and discounts are superficial remedies for frustrated sociability
- To be relentlessly pressured to work harder so as to be able to afford a never-ending stream of desirable things is a depressing kind of freedom
- Finding a place to live often involves spending a third of one's wages for 25 years on a mortgage, the equivalent of undergoing a 7 year prison sentence
- What matters is not just how much knowledge I have, but what I do with my knowledge
- The fatal disease that attacks the living is rigor vitae, rigidity of the mind, which burns up curiosity and replaces it with repetitive and numb routine; it is more dangerous than rigor mortis because it gives the illusion of being alive
The book "Six Records of a Floating Life" might be embedded in Chinese culture, suggesting to them that "the love of two people is enough to blow out adversity". In the list below, I've compiled some of the amazing characters Theodore decided to ask for assistance in enlightening his marvellous book:
- Hajj Sayyah, first Iranian to obtain American citizenship, back in 1875
- Mao Ch'i Ling, Chinese scholar and philosopher
- Sergei Eisenstein, a pioneer Soviet film director
- Haimbati Sen, the remarkable life of an female Indian doctor
- Andrew Carnegie, from a billionaire to a philanthropist in an American lifetime
- Benjamin Haydon, British painter who committed suicide
- Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk who decided what to do with his life by opening the Bible at random and putting his finger on a phrase
- Robert Owen; a Welsh textile manufacturer, claimed as the father of personal management
- Sir Thomas More, author of the book 'Utopia'
- Hans Christian Andersen, a wonderful Danish author of fairy tale stories, admirable
- Mathilde Fibiger, a Danish novelist, pioneer of women rights died at the age of just 41
- Carl Linnaeus, father of modern taxonomy
- Frederick Winslow Taylor, creator of the Scientific Management strategy approach theory
- Abraham Zaleznik, Harvard Business professor who believed that psychoanalysis held the key to a better future
- Warren Gamaliel Bennis, one of America's most admired and humane writers on leadership
- Dostoyevsky, who devoted his life to making sense of human contradictions and of the vacillations of this own mind
- Niels Bohr insisted that ideas acquire life when they are conveyed and understood by others
- Abraham Maslow, reduced ambition into a simple picture of a pyramid
I don’t know why, but it took me years to read this book; I was constantly putting it off in preference of other books, but anyway, finally finished it and this is my review: this is a book about God, Science and the Human Person, where by its reading you'll enter into the personal Universe of Adam Ford, a man who is a priest, have a scientific mind and, like many of us, is in search of the meaning of life. His views are all very personal and subject to debate. Here I’d like to mention some of his comments, to which ideas behind you may or may not agree, that’s entirely up to the reader, but it is always nice (and advisable!) to read someone’s opinion about any given subject of interest, I actually agree with many -not all- of the things Adam Ford postulates on his self-analysis book of believes:
- A lack of sympathy between scientific research and religious faith has partly been to blame for the spiritual disorientation that affects people today
- The greatest threat to people today is the sense of meaningless, with the haunting fear that religion offers only illusions to protect us from the truth the universe is ultimately a stark, uncaring place
- All our attempts to find meaning are simply a desperate effort to make reality more comfortable
- According to Niels Bohr, founder of quantum mechanics, when an observer makes an observation then the waves or particles rises to the occasion and becomes real. All of these subatomic particles are themselves simply ‘frozen’ manifestations of energy
- It seems that the basic laws of the Universe were designed to work together to produce observers with minds
- Everything from the first billionth of a microsecond after the Big Bang when this Universe was born, up to the evolution of humankind will eventually have an adequate and satisfying explanation
- Physical and spiritual realities are two aspects of one deeper reality, and this Universe is an evolving process of spirit-matter. Spirit and matter are two aspects of a deeper reality
- They compare an aeon, an age, to the time it takes to erase the world's highest mountain by dusting it once a century with a silk cloth
- The emergence of mind from matter is a product of the evolution of the Universe itself
- Atoms do not grow old and die. We are completely made from recycled bits. We borrow them briefly. The stars are our chemical ancestors
- Chemistry becomes aware of itself; atoms wake up to self-knowledge when they are organised as people
- When we look at the Universe, we never see it as it is but only as it was
- In the long run death rules everything. Big Crunch or slow decay
- Hydrogen and Oxygen make water. This Universe was designed to make people
- Suppose the Universe is eternal, the Big Bang followed after a multibillion year internal by the Big Crunch only to be repeated again and again, the systole and diastole of a cosmic heart?
- Truth is revealed as much through complexity as it is from simplicity, otherwise you might as well reduce architecture to bricks, symphonies to sounds and poetry to the alphabet
- Evolution is bound to follow a router leading towards molecular complexity, life and consciousness. This arrow follows the evolutionary path of ever-increasing complexity and convergence and traces an ascension, with the vision we may see this arrow pointing towards God, the "Omega Point"
- Disagreements should be faced with compassion and understanding, not arrogant rejection
- Spirituality is not a means for escaping the pains and tribulations of the physical but a way of illuminating them
- Science without faith offers us a bizarre picture of the world. An absurd accident, without meaning or purpose, a Universe appears from nowhere. Given time, the atoms links themselves together in such a way as to produce consciousness. Human beings emerge from the earth's atoms through the driving pressures of evolution. People briefly walk on the planet, examine the dust from which they emerged and gaze at the sky. They collapse back into the dust as meaninglessly as they emerged from it. Each of us can only look around for a moment before we die
- Evolution does not proceed gradually but in fits and starts interspersed with long periods or changeless equilibrium
- All life, whether on earth or elsewhere, is the product of one Universe. There are no aliens just as really there are no foreigners
- It would be unrealistic to expect that living active cells should never malfunction as it would be to expect a river never to flood its banks
- The human brain is the most complex phenomenon amongst the stars, it is the most remarkable quality of matter in the known Universe
- There is more to reality than what is outward and visible. All the atoms on your body had drifted through space for billions of years before the solar system came to be and the evolution of life benga its long process causing mind to emerge from matter
I learned a few interesting topics about psychology in this book, such as:
- Negentropy, which may explains why our human brain has evolved in this apparent condition of entropy in the Universe. A good description of this can be read here
- Deism, which rejects revelation as a source of religious knowledge and asserts that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to establish the existence of a Supreme Being or creator of the universe; the wiki of Deism here
- Paley's Clockwork Analogy, also called the Watchmaker Analogy; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchmaker_analogy
- Indeterminacy; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indeterminacy_(philosophy)
- Falsification Principle; https://www.simplypsychology.org/Karl-Popper.html
- The Anthropic Principle, that attempt to determine how reliable our observations of the Universe are, considering that we only exist in a particular type of Universe to start with; https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-the-anthropic-principle-2698848
- Cartesian Dualism
The transmission of inherited characteristics remained an unresolved problem for Darwin, as DNA was not discovered during his time, and he had no idea that existed. Are we now living on a time of Darwin, where our particular DNA and the features to understand the Cosmos have not been discovered yet?
In autumn 2018 I visited once again the IP expo at the Excel Center in London, ready to be bombarded again by IT sales business cards in exchange for the valuable insight of seeing their products and consulting with them in regards to innovations and new features. It was almost the end of the day when I passed around a crowd of people that where queuing to get to a table. OMG! I recognised on the table the doctor Hannah Fry signing her new book, so I queued too, patiently, and got the chance to congratulate her for her amazing BBC documentary Calculating Ada - The Countess of Computing, about Lady Lovelace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgUVrzkQgds , and obviously bought the book she was selling, here my review below, well worth the reading! At the time of purchase, she gave an autograph on her book... I'm delighted!
Her book is an interesting reading full of bibliography (as you would expect coming from an academic background as she is) and a compilation of real events of how algorithms shape our society. She puts in evidence that while algorithms could do a good job, they are "not accountable" for any decision, and that there is always a level of bias in the creation of every code: if for example some algorithm tend to be racist, that's because the creators are, and the creator do noting but trying to represent the best of what society is. The conclusion to draw from her book is that algorithm can never be perfectly accurate, and "the question is whether the pros (of its usage) outweigh the cons". We can use them to certain level, to make our lives "easier", but there always have to be a human factor involved in the chain of decision making
Neural Network is a new term that I've learnt on her book, thank you Hannah! I also learnt on her book that Burgeoning Eugenics is a movement that aims to provide genetic compositions of humans by selective breeding, euthanasia and force sterilisation, awful! Had no idea such things existed outside of the nazi regime. Probabilistic Interference and the Trolley Problem, along with Distance Decay, Doppelganger and the Buffer Zone are some terms that I learned in formal detail, and yes, Social Proof Phenomenon too, in which you don't question the behaviours of others in a situation where you're not that familiar with. I knew all these things, but never knew the scientific formal terms to describe them
Extracts from her book:
"A price hike from £1.20 to £2.30 seems enormous, but an increase from £67 to £68 doesn't seems to matter", even though in both cases the increase is £1, this is because we humans perceive our environment in relative terms rather than in absolute values, as described by Webber's Law https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHG8io5qIU8 We only notice the "weight" of difference in small scales
"It'll only be able to find patterns in the data if that data is collected, collated and connected" A great advice of every algorithm builder
"The algorithm are undoubtedly great imitators, just not very good innovators" If we are the image of God, and we are imperfect, isn't it God imperfect too? How can we possibly aim to create something perfect? a perfect algorithm? Impossible. If we are created by the evolution of a Universe, and we admit that by nature we are imperfect, and thus that we are evolving, and so is the Universe, our creations should therefore be "dynamic", and have some kind of artificial intelligence on them that will allow them to evolve.
Drawbacks, but add it on your next edition Hannah!
I was kind of hoping for Hannah to mention Edward Snowden move in 2013 of leaving the CIA, and how his disclosure in regards to the algorithms he created had a mayor impact of the impression we have of data usage by governments and corporations nowadays, but I guess she kept it all quiet and avoid any comments in case she will be ban from entering the USA in the future. She does however speaks amply about Cambridge Analytica, yet another event (scandals labelled on this occasion, espionage in the other) of data misuse
Some of the videos in the "Notes" are unavailable, not her fault of course, but it would have been handy to have just one page on her website, where you can check her Notes and she can update the links as needed, amen from saving the time and frustration of reader like me, who had to type on the address bar of the browser the tedious long hyperlink that she provided on paper. Overall, a fantastic read!
If I was the ruler of the World I'll make a law so that all human population will have to read this book, patiently and calmly, it is a journey to the discovery of yourself and your interaction with other human beings. Don't be deceived by the title "You are not so smart", and don't let you ego grow arrogant and prevent you from picking up this book from the shelf. Of course you're not so smart, and David proves it in this book in many occasions. Just like in a course of psychology, these are some of the terms that I learnt on this book:
Confirmation Bias; you tend to look for information that confirms your beliefs, and ignore information that challenges them, in other words, wishful thinking.
Priming ; "on experiments, mere exposure to briefcases and fancy pens had altered the behaviour of normal, rational people. They became more competitive, greedier and had no idea why. Faced with having to explain themselves, they rationalised their behaviour with erroneous tales they believed were true". Adaptive unconscious is the term used by psychologist were prime takes effects, were the subjects minds (by mere exposure to objects) are altered by unconscious priming. Just remember, you are most open to prime/suggestions when your mental-cruise-control is on or when you find yourself in unfamiliar circumstances. "If you bring a shopping list, you'll lest likely to arrive at the checkout with a cart full of staff you had no intention of buying before you left the house. If you neglect your personal space and allow chaos and clutter to creep int, it will affect you, and perhaps encourage further neglect. You can't prime yourself directly, but you can create environments and positive feedback loops conductive to the mental states you wish you achieve". In Buddhism this is called "imprints", Buddhists surrounded themselves by images of Buddha not because they adore the imaginary, but because they are priming themselves unconsciously to achieve enlightenment. Priming can also be consider like the Law of Attraction of some sort?
Confabulation ;you feel like a single person with a single brain, but in many ways, you really have two. When the left hemisphere is force to explain why the right hemisphere is doing something, it often creates a fiction that both sides then accept. You are a confabulatory creature by nature: you are always explaining to yourself the motivations for your actions and the causes to the effects in your life, and you make them up without realising it when you don't know the answers. Over time, these explanations become your idea of who you are and your place in the world. Mirror neurons and complex clusters of brain cells.
Procrastination; "Thinking about thinking is the key. You must be adept at thinking about thinking to defeat yourself at procrastination. You must realise there is the YOU who sits there now reading this, and there is the YOU some time in the future who will be influenced by a different set of ideas and desires, a YOU from whom an alternate palette of brain functions will be available for painting reality". A clear example of this are programs like Freedom Blocker or plans like Nutrisystem
Frequency Illusion ;be aware of when this happens to you, and please read all the possible Confirmation Bias that there are as from the time of writing in the human brain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases Remember that in Science, you move closer to the truth when seeking evidence to the contrary! "Meaning is a human construction". From this list of Cognitive Biases I'd like to mention a few:
- Hindsight Bias; similar to Availability Heuristic, you of course knew it all along, but only realise of that once the things are happened. Don't be deluded by this and give yourself examples, can you for example predict a situation later that later on you'd say of-course-I-knew-all?
- Present Bias ;"being unable to grasp that what you want will change overtime, and what you want now isn't the same thing you will want later; this bias explains why you buy lettuce and bananas to throw them out later when you forget to eat them"
- Hyperbolic Discounting; this is the tendency of getting more rational when you are forced to wait, meaning to me that patience is a great contributor to cognition. "If I offer you £50 now or £100 in 5 years you'd take the £50 of course. After all, who knows what would happens in 5 years time. But if I offer you £50 in 4 years and £100 in 5 years you'd wait for the £100, it feels natural. A logical mind would pick up the £100 in both situations, but you're not so smart. You are also affected by Hyperbolic Discount"
- Normalcy Bias; "The first thing you are likely to feel in the event of a disaster is the supreme need to feel safe and secure. When it becomes clear -to you- that is impossible, you drift into a daydream". You acclimate to your surroundings so that you notice when things go awry, but this acclimation makes you forget certain aspects, for example of your new home until a visitor points them out to you.
- Consistency Bias; you need to feel that you can predict your own behaviour, and so you rewrite your own history sometimes so you can seem dependable to yourself; if you are really in love now, but once had your doubts, you simply delete the past and replace it with one less inconsistent with your present state. You need to be aware, therefore, of not to alter your memories to match your current emotions
Apophenia; your mind is pre-organised to notice order, and you see what you want to see while ignoring the rest. Apophenia is the tendency to mistakenly perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things, it isn't just seeing order in chaos, it is believing you were destined to see it. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/reality-play/201207/being-amused-apophenia
Brand Loyalty; are you an Android or Apple fan? When you make a choice you need to have an emotional connection to the product you choose, and your brain is more than capable of deluding you and altering the memories of the past to match your current emotions. "That nebulous emotional connection people have with certain companies, which turns them into defenders and advocates for corporations who don't give a shit about them"
Post-decisional dissonance; the feeling you have committed to one option when the other options may have been better; remember that t he minute you pick a flower you automatically deselect all the other flowers. http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/post-decision_dissonance.htm
The argument from authority; "you should be wise to come to your own conclusion based on the evidence, not the people delivering it, if a celebrity footballer is selling you batteries, ask yourself if that footballer seem like an expert on electrochemical energy storage before you take his word"
The Straw Man Fallacy; "in creating a fantasy argument where the world goes mad if the other person' argument were to win, you have constructed a straw man" It is sooo easy to fall on this fallacy! We much aware of it in your daily life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfil34ayaEU A good explanation also in here: https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/169/Strawman-Fallacy The Ad Hominen Argument is another one you should be much aware too (be critic with the argument, but no with the person exposing it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBkj-AYYg7w "Wondering whether or not someone can be trusted and wondering whether or not someone is telling the truth are two different things". List of fallacies here: https://kspope.com/fallacies/fallacies.php
Gain some self-control now. Your perceived status is part of the unconscious equation you work out when accepting, refusing and making offer with other people; you are not so smart, and willing to get nothing in the Ultimate Game Example, when you win a £1 million in the lottery but have to share a bit of the prize with a total stranger, whom if denied your proposal you'll lose the whole prize. How much would you offer? How much will you be willing to accept? Life could be as absurd as connecting dots in the constellations, and you struggle to make sense of the world, you focus on what falls into place and neglect/reject that which doesn't fit.
Groupthinking; if you manage a group of people, according to Irwing Janis, the decisions of the group are to be truth and more successful is some of the members are "ass-holes" and don't give a shit about the group, being able to speak up without any fear of dismissal, rejection, etc
The Affect Heuristic; without emotions it is incredibly difficult to settle on any one option, that''s why politicians with data graphs tend to fail. When you want to believe something you will unconsciously turn down the volume on the bad qualities of the object you want to believe, and vice verse if you want to hate the object. Today everyone is a consumer and has to pick from the select selection of goods as everyone else; and because of this people now define their personalities by how good their taste is, or how clever, or how obscure, or how ironic their choices are, so you reveal your unique characters through your consumption habits. Poor people compete with resources, Middle Class compete with selection, wealthy people with possessions.
Illusory Superiority Effect ;humans are liars by default, and you lie most to yourself; you see the person you used to be as a foolish bumbler with poor taste but your current self as a legend who is worthy of at least 3 times the praise.
The Spotlight Effect; You spend so much time thinking about your own body, your own thoughts and behaviours, you begin to thinks other people must be noticing too, but the reality is they don't acknowledge your present at all, and they are far less likely to give a shit about you. Next time you have a new hair cut or new pair of shoes, don't expect anyone to notice. You are not so smart or special
Conformity; never be afraid to question authority when your actions could harm yourself and others. Even in simple situations, like queuing for a cinema, restaurant, etc, feel free to break norms and go and check the door to look inside. Be aware of Social Loafing too: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-social-loafing-2795883
Extinction Burst; your brain didn't evolve in an environment where there was an abundance of food, the brain is made of atoms and molecules, therefore it must obey the laws of physics and chemistry, it is hard to control it, and therefore most of your well-intended actions for self improvement cold end up in a catastrophic binge. http://www.greenmountaindaily.com/2011/03/12/the-extinction-burst/
Reality, as you experience it, is a virtual experience generated by the brain based on the inputs coming from your senses; you don't get a raw feed from these inputs, instead, you get an edited version. The you of now who makes decisions in your life is usually the remembering one; it drags your current self around in pursuit of new memories, anticipating them based on old memories. Be aware as well of Self-Handicap, you are limitless, but sometimes your mind play tricks on you: if you succeed you can say you did so despite terrible odds and thanks to your great competence; if you fall short you can blame the events leading up to the failure instead of your own incompetence or inadequacy
Self-Fulfilling Prophecies; research shows that if you believe someone is going to be an asshole, you will act hostile, thus causing them to act like an asshole. This same research shows if people think their partner doesn't love them, they will interpret small slights as big hurts, and this will then lead to a feeling of rejection that causes the partner to distance him/her; the Feedback Loop will build and build until the prophecy is fulfilled
The Illusion of Control; the odds are fixed, but sometimes you think you can beat them. Since you briefly control the initial action, you start to feel like the control extends beyond just the toss of dice, and into the randomness that results
I bought this book during my trip in Nepal, back in October 2018. It came to my life during one of our meditation sessions in the Gompa hall, when a lady sat in meditation posture to my left-hand side passed me a note at the end of the meditation session, and I looked at her noticing the book that she had: The Transformed Mind from the Dalai Lama. The note was part of a card we were preparing to say thanks to our teacher, a gesture of gratitude for the incredible teaching during that week at the Kopan Monastery in Nepal
Yes, even before open it, the book already had lots to teach me
The book is a walk through some of the conferences the Dalai Lama has done in the 1980s and early 1990s. Here are some of the extracts that I loved the most: The nature of the mind is basic clear light, yet the nature of life is suffering, and the essence of teachings of the Buddha is that since all conditioned phenomena are impermanent, we should not be attached to anything and instead exert ourselves diligently to avoid evil, do only good and purify our minds. We should all seek attaining Enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings
The 3 poisons for the mind are ignorance, attachment and hatred, and the consciousness or mind has no beginning and no end. Don't take a lenient attitude when negative emotions arise, practise patience and tolerance. Compassion is a combination of sympathy and concern, a feeling of closeness with a sense of responsibility, but not pity
If you can, help other sentient beings, but if you cannot at least do not harm others. Lasting happiness must be develops within ourselves, nobody can give it to us and no external factor can be responsible for it
Negative emotions are ultimately based on ignorance, and if they were the true nature of our mind then we'll be in anger all the time. Similarity, positive emotions are also not the true nature of our mind, we cannot remain always happy. The mind is something neutral, reflecting all sorts of different experiences and phenomena. The passing of time moves the energy, for example, this flower in front of me is changing at a very subtle level, and so is every atom of me and in the mountains, ever-changing in a wave-like fashion, like energy through time. Due to the very nature of everything that is being produced, they are all subject to disintegration and change (so, is the mind subject to disintegration too? it must be, because it is subject to change)
Intelligence usually ceases to work when emotions are out of control, does it mean that emotions destroys intelligence? Modern education system pays too much attention to knowledge and the brain, leaving spiritual development to religion organisations, and hence not paying attention to emotions. What is the inner strength that enables one to maintain calm in the face of difficulties? it does not comes from external factors, inner strength stems from true training of the mind
Buddhism emphasises the training and transformation of mind because all events are the result of one's actions. We call that karma. Our future depends on today's actions. That is the law of karma or the law of causality. Of verbal, mental and physical actions, mental action is supreme. Mental motivation is the key factor. At first we need to disciplined our moral conduct (shila) and abandon the ten non-virtuous actions (killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, divisive speech, harsh talk, idle gossip, covetousness, harmful intention and wrong views). Sexual self-discipline is greatly required. When you gain victory over these emotions, that is the stage of liberation. The positive emotions can be develop through analytical meditation
There is a difference between appearance and reality. We are made of affection, without parental affection the child cannot survive, but it can survive without religious faith. We should have a clear awareness of how to utilise time properly and constructively. If you want to look for differences and problems... they can always be found. If we think about ourselves all the time, it will eventually bring more suffering; altruism benefits others and also brings immense benefit to oneself. The external world that we perceive is an illusion and it lacks the concreteness that we project, is nothing but an extension of our mind. Pay attention not only to the cultivating of knowledge, but cultivation of qualities of the heart so that at the end you not only will be knowledgeable but also warm-hearted and a compassionate person
When nirvana happens, there is no more being; if there is a being, there can be no nirvana. Love is mixed and polluted with attachment. In order to change we must first change ourselves. If we don't change.....nothing will change. The human mind is always changing, and if you make some effort in the right direction, ultimately, mental changes will occur and you can get an enormous amount of peace and happiness
Back in 2014, my friend Anna told me that her friend Karen had published a book. I bought, I read it and I wrote a letter to Karen, which I passed to Anna for delivery. Shame I didn't meet Karen (and probably will never meet) as I wanted her to sign her book for me, but I'm happy that wrote it and published, and I'm very grateful to have been able to give a review directly to the author, which fair is to say doesn't happen often. You can buy her book on this link in Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Jumper-Karen-Andor/dp/1494306565/
This is what I wrote to Karen, on a letter dated 9 April 2014. Obviously, I strongly recommend this book, but be aware, my review contain spoilers!
Such a beautiful book you have written, it has made me roll over in amaze, shake with fear, alone in my bedroom where every dark corner took life, and cry at the very end. Thank you so much for taking the effort, the time and the energy to grasps all of these thoughts and present them together is such a beautiful journey that is your book. You have created the perfect background and scenery for yourself to manifest to this world all your ideas and thoughts about the human soul and the inner workings of the mind. Apologies if my letter sounds a little bit flattering, but have just finished your book and your wording and ending are still fresh in my head, your pages still burning in the tips on my fingers.
I feel privilege to address this letter to the author, giving you my feedback on your writing, and I tell you: is not that I liked your book, I love it. Have really enjoyed diving with you in the characters that you have created, captivated by the new eyes in which suddenly they saw their everyday life, such fascinating personas on each jump. But my opinion on your book inevitable comes through the shades of my own experience and believes, and as you know this letter should be taken as the isolated opinion of one of your readers with the sole aim of expressing to you how your story made me feel.
I need to confess that at the beginning I didn’t like it, oh my God I thought when I first read the few paragraphs, I’m gonna put this down any minute. But it is me, I have a natural dislike of any writing done on the first person, and feel apprehensive of the “I-me-mine” sort of writing, but your book could have not been written in any other way. Adding now a personal note here, I guess my aberration of the “I-me-mine” writings could be compare to that of somebody eating spaghettis, the only dish where both fork and spoon have to negotiate with the sometimes unresponsive hands on an almighty dance aiming to satisfy the ever more hungry mouth. Having said all that, you got me hook from page 3, when the agony of the boy was clear and his submission to that horror situation trapped me, and slowly I found myself wearing new shoes, dancing with spaghettis and eating those delicious I-me-mines.
The pain of a young boy, his vulnerability, could not have been a better trigger to capture both attention and feelings of the reader. I personally felt to it and you made me feel powerless. And then all of the sudden he became somebody else, then I associated the jumper title of the book. A book critic may say that the key hooking-point is that the reader felt exactly the same as the character, what the hell is going on? But the really underlining building block is your writing, very powerful, with just enough descriptions to leave the imagination fly free and focusing on the feelings and interactions with the immediate world; your writing style really takes the reader to the core mind of the character of the book and I have felt absorbed by it.
You got another quality, that of measurement. Just when I was getting all confused and slightly annoyed, still enjoying the sinuous writing in which each character is presented, floating in their own unique worlds, but me myself losing the plot of the whole thing a little bit; Richard came around and then it all makes sense (or that is what I thought). I really believed that I got you there and could even picture on my mind how the book may follow, a guy having dreams after overdose. You demolished all my concepts on the scene when a shadow enters the Doc, and it speaks with such unique dialog that it really creates a clear differentiation from the main character itself. And since the moment I read the sentence “I have not given you permission to enter my shop” I just could not stop devouring your book, it all took a different dimension. I admire the mastery and poetry you have of unfolding their souls from their inside out, smoothly and methodically.
For me, one of the biggest highlights of your book is when the man dies in the park, oh my god, how it all happens is so beautifully written that I really enjoyed reading it a few times. The desire of the shadow to just pass away and wake up somewhere else, dragging during this aspiration the life of a person, is remarkable. I’m sorry if I’m still flattering you but I believe not many people will have the talent to describe such situation as you have done it. As a writer you have put yourself on uncomfortable situations, like when being stranded on a beach or how to reach to Chandra bypassing her energy fields, and yet your imagination has been able to find a way out and make coherence with the whole story.
The shadow’s need to prove that is evil is to me all part of the journey of metamorphosis and modulation that the character endures. You deliberately eluded the shadow’s real name as well as its origin which makes it all much interesting and produces the effect of mystery-emanation from the book even after it has been read and put down. And your ending is so wonderful, unexpected and very creative; a true revelation for the shadow and the reader: it was an angel trapped on a demon after all.
Now, my interpretation: was the soul of the demon transformed into an angel when the light of Chandra touched it? Or most certainly was that particular moment of touched what revealed to the demon its real purpose in life through Chandra’s appeal, to help people out? After all Chandra always detected some sort of disturbance on this entity, was the internal fight good-evil what she was detecting? Let me adventure here, as the earth and solar system take the next few millennia to pass through the centre of the galaxy, exposing the planetary bodies to the energy irradiated straight from the galactic centre, is there something there that is ‘altering’ the demons’ perceptions of themselves? How many of these broken-soul entities are out there, waiting to prove themselves their malice until eventually, if only eventually, mutate into angels, dormant on our minds but influencing and actually defining our thoughts which inevitably end up as behaviours that we identify as originally ours.
You have made me wonder in fear, as you can see, how many of these shadows are inside me? How many of them are inducing my thoughts? Is one of them, perhaps right now, merged in my thoughts to produce this very same letter to you?
Thank you Karen for have written such an unusual and beautiful story, I liked your style and I’m looking forward to read more.
I received this book as a present from my dearest friend Marta, and to be honest I was hesitated to read it, scare and uneasy, because I already had lingered on my mind the huge disappointment I suffer from Paulo Coelho on a previous book of him that I read: "11 minutes", I read that later book a few years ago, and I found it a waste of time, a clearly desperate attempt of a genius man whose destiny is bound to have only one good book (The Alchemist) to try again and hit the glory, a futile attempt to squeeze more eggs out of his Golden Hen that was The Alchemist. Maybe because of that, because I was already predisposed, I found the adventure of reading Aleph another waste of time
Take for example the magical book of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,"The Little Prince", an extraordinary masterpiece but can only be written once (just like The Alchemist is and was); there can't be a sequel of The Little Prince, neither Antonie should "exploit" the topics touched on that book, to get more money and write similar low quality books with little passion on them. This is exactly, to my believe, what happens to Paulo: he is a magnificent written but unfortunately for him, only for one book: The Alchemist. There is nothing wrong with that, but this is the way it is. Many music bands have got one beautiful song only for which they are remembered (A-ha for example) while the other songs that they have are not cut to be hits
To start with, I hate books that are written with in 1st person (I, me, mine), though I have some short stories myself written as 1st person too, I disgust at the thought of having to do it. On Aleph, not only Paulo does the shortcut trick of hiding de lack of narrative presenting the main character as 1st person (less 'convenient' room to describe events), but the actual character is himself! It seems the whole Universe rotates around him. Not much narrative depth of anything in the book, he mentions the majestic crossing of the Ural mountains literately in just a couple of sentences. He presents to the reader the well-known good old fashion super-hero trauma: "The energy is not flowing as expected. Something is blocked in my past". And the whole of the book he goes around with a character called Hilal who is trying to heal the superhero so that both of them can redeem to a higher frequency of themselves
Here are some of Paulo's thoughts which I liked the most (yes, in Spanish cos I read the book in Spanish):
- Vivir es experimentar. Y no quedarse pensando en el sentido de la vida
- Si te preocupas demasiado por descubrir lo que hay de bueno o de malo en tu prójimo, te olvidaras de tu propia alma, te agotaras y serás derrotado por la energía que has gastado en juzgar a los demás
- Por que hace algunos meses me queje porque no estaba conectado a la energía divina? Que tontería! Siempre lo estamos, es la rutina la que no nos deja reconocerlo
- Las mujeres siempre son enemigas naturales las unas de las otras
- Porque nadie lucha contra nadie, solo con uno mismo. Véncete a ti mismo y vencerás al mundo
- Ayudarte a cumplir una misión que desconozco - This is a perfect descrption of any relationshiop!
- Empujándome hacia el lugar al que conozco y adonde no quiero ir, pero al que tengo que volver
- Un guerrero en busca del sueño se inspira en lo que hace, y no en lo que va a hacer
- Es mentira. La vida es un sueño del cual solo nos despertamos cuando llega la muerte. El tiempo pasa mientras vivimos
- En cuya alma todavía sopla el viento negro de la soledad
His written technique, without a solid story line behind like on The Alchemist, is just pure rotten flesh on the ground without an skeleton to hold it all up. It is what I call "P.B.G" (Poetic Bullshit Generator). Let for example take 3 well-know common words for which each person has a personal an intimate meaning: love, time and past; I can play around with these 3 words and create totally useless yet beautiful sentences that may actually allow me to sell a book!
- The Love we experience has no Time, and shine like a diamond in the Past
- When the Past becomes the tears of Time, the grief of our cry will shine under the joy of Love with a smile
- It is only in the fabrics of Time where the engine of Love can be found, tinting the Past with the steam of memories
See how easy that is? A similar thing does Paulo, just playing around with the words, and keep squeezing that Hen's Gold for as long as you can. I am very critic with Paulo, yes, sorry about that.... or maybe not. I have read books that had had the Middle Ages as their ambience, "The Name of the Rose" of Umberto Ecco, for example, and the richness and depth that a description of this epoch requires are nowhere to be found in the lame and pale narrative that Paulo present to us of "his" Middle Ages. The texture is simply missing. Anyway, last thing I want to mention about this book, that of course puts the writer in the spotlight too, is its presentation: hard covers that can use as self-defence in kung-fu classes if necessary, thick lavish paper that undoubtedly has a tremendous environmental impact (though, to be fair, he mentions the book has been made with ecological paper) and gigantic fonts to extend the print out of book and the number of pages, all of which are aimed at making the book as expensive and luxurious as possible, thus increasing the dividends and loyalties of both the writer and the publisher. No wonder in Spain people don't read as often as they do in the UK, the books there are so expensive.... on purpose! That is a thing that I do not tolerate, when the writer seems to be treating the object of the book itself just as another article from which he can get a substantial percentage at the cost of the reader
In summary, a deception for me, but you should read it in order to form your own opinion. After all, there is no doubt that Paulo Coelho is a magnificent writer when he wants to be
How to Meditate, a practical guide by Katheeen McDonald
Also bought in Kopan Monastery, in Nepal, back on the 21st October 2019 during the 4th day of my retirement meditation at the Monastery.
Samuel Aun Weor, quotations:
La muerte reduce a cenizas todas las vanidades del mundo. La vida practica como escuela es formidable pero tomarla como un fin en si misma es manifiestamente absurdo.
Books to read:
A New Earth: Create a Better Life by Eckhart Tolle
The Man of the Crowd, Edgard Allen Poe
Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life
Clara Raphael, byu Mathilde Fibiger
A fugitive crosses his tracks by Aksel Sandemose