We had a bookclub meeting in the week between the Japan trip and the Hawaii trip. This was a discussion of the book Thinking: Fast and Slow, which was a big one that was also very dense. The book was great for me, since it was mainly about biases and heuristics. Not only that but it had a lot about how to deal with them and avoid falling into many of those traps. It also talked about how to drive people towards or away from those biases. We had a smaller group, Tina, Amy, Nina, Stepanie, and Myself. The talk was great, and since the book was so dense we ran out of time long before we ran out of things to talk about. We chose to go for a shorter and lighter book for the next one, Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson.
This book made some really good points about checklists, and it didn’t talk about them directly, but the concept of willpower comes in a lot with them. The checklist is there both to make sure you don’t forget and to allow you to not remember. I builds up the habits, and refines them, while at the same time you don’t have to think about it. Something I also noticed while building my checklists was that I could optimize them for order of operations. I could also add things in that I haven’t normally done and it makes it easier to do them. I think it is going to work out really well.
The arguments put forward in this book do not flow logically. The author does a decent job of poking the proper holes in the atheistic views on religion, but does not touch on the more pertinent views of humanism. The author also goes off the deep end in the assumptions about Christian faithfuls. I could more easily draw the conclusion that Christians should be the least desirable people, because their faith says they don’t need to be good or nice to their fellow man, even if they should. They don’t need to make anything right if they hurt others, instead all that is required is that they ask forgiveness. They don’t have to ask the person they hurt, only an unknowable being that will then forgive them of everything that they repent. There are some good points in the book, but they are drowned out by the satisficing and logical hoops that the author jumps through.
We had a pretty good turnout at the first full bookclub meeting, and the response to the book was mainly negative, but it made us think. There were some really good and impassioned discussions around the different concepts discussed. The most contested was the institutional habits and whether that level of control that the company is exerting on the individual is moral or not. Steph’s baked goods were delicious.
We decided on A Fire upon the Deep as the next book, and I’m going to read it a few times since it was pretty good.
This was a very different view of how to create habits and get things done in day to day life than what I’ve normally read. The method also strongly corresponds to the science about willpower and other aspects of motivation that I’ve been reading. The way it allows for success by small goals, and then you can feel good about going above and beyond is something that I should incorporate into my life. I typically set my goals far to high and then fall short (aim for the moon and land among the stars). There is probably a good time to use each of these methods and I’ll have to figure that out slowly.
This was an interesting overview of Buddhist practices and their spread to the West, specifically the US. The way things changed were to open more to everyone and less focused on the teaching and efforts. This was great to look at how some Buddhist practices were getting really cult like, and some had died from these practices. The teachers teaching that there don’t need to be teachers kind of got me. I thought that part was pretty funny.
This book was very interesting, as it really dived into what we know about the lives of these great people. Besides the religions they started, and the traditions surrounding that, there isn’t much in the way of written records of their lives. The written records also tended to be written years to centuries after their lives. The similarities in their teachings was also interesting, with the Buddha being the most different. All the others were dealing with how to live well with others and how to have good lives. The Buddha taught about how to let go of life, and not worry about earthly things anymore. The others taught variations and specific instances of the golden rule.
This was an interesting book. The focus is on the history of the texts and not as much on the content of those texts. The history of thought on all of these texts seems to be a movement from infallible single source, to a scientific view of being an amalgamation. This is especially true of the old testament. The most interesting part was the section on the Koran. The source is the most infallible, but it is still slightly questioned by recent findings of the oldest known versions that have slight changes. It is only a few words, but it would make the complete infallibility of the text questionable. There is also an interesting part in this section about the views of the Koran on Jesus and other prophets. With the way the texts have been shown to be amalgamations the view of the other prophets is very appropriate. I also really enjoyed the section on Baha’i. My personal world view is still most closely related to this religion, but there are too many fundamental differences for me to claim to be Baha’i.