Our Latest Discussion | The Best Ideas of 2021
No podcast is complete without a year-end review. In episode 50, Scott and Stefan share their favorite ideas and tools from 2021 including the commonplace book, on-demand newsletters, and a confidence crisis.
Tune in here.
Mental Upgrade | Fighting Mental Jujutsu
There are over 1,000 styles of martial arts according to the ever-reliable internet.
Jujutsu may be the most devastating.
Originating in Japan between the 8th and 15th centuries as a technique for close combat on the battlefield, Jujutsu relies on a counterintuitive principle to defeat opponents: the enemy’s strength is their weakness.
Rather than matching force or exploiting your opponent’s defenses, you manipulate their force against them. In other words, the enemy's strength is converted into the weapon that defeats them.
With lethal results.
Converting physical strength into a weakness applies equally to your mind.
Your Hidden Mental Weaknesses
As you mature, your mind develops shortcuts for solving problems or making decisions as a way of doing more with less energy.
For example, you may ignore interesting news reports from news stations unaligned to your political mindset ("That's on Fox, it must be manipulated").
These are called "Heuristics". And, whether you know it or not, you use them all the time.
The Availability Heuristic is one example.
The Availability Heuristic operates on the notion that if something can be recalled, it must be important, or at least more important than alternative solutions which are not as readily recalled.
Subsequently, under the availability heuristic, people tend to heavily weigh their judgments toward more recent information, making new opinions biased toward that latest news.
The more you hear a topic, the easier it is to recall it. The easier it is to recall it, the more important it seems.
And this psychological truth can be exploited.
Let's explore one example that hits home for all readers: Democracy and Citizens.
A democracy demands informed citizens to make choices at the ballot box. And "good" citizens feel the desire to stay informed.
Your desire to stay "informed" or "knowledgeable", a strength for the informed citizen, becomes the exact tool an opponent uses to shape your thinking about what is important.
Imagine reading 13 stories on Russian influence into the 2016 elections AND being asked "What is the number one issue facing America’s voting process?"
Or reading multiple articles about the start of new solar and wind farms and asked "What are the best sources of renewable energy on the planet?"
Is there any guess to how someone would respond to these questions? Your mind is tuned to give an unsurprising answer, reinforced by the many articles on the topic.
You need to learn how to neutralize the attack.
Fight Fire With Water...
Like other mental biases, being aware of the phenomenon is the start.
But the real trick is hitting the "CTRL+ALT+DELETE" function when the mental bias software fires up.
For most, a well-worded question quickly disrupts the processing of the Availability Heuristic, causing one to challenge perceived importance.
Questions you can ask include
If I hadn't read these articles, how important would I rate this matter?
How is what I have recently heard or watched informing my opinion?
What context (assumptions, base rates, trends, etc.) could be included but isn't?
This list isn't exhaustive. And you should make up your own set of questions that are easy to recall and effectively pause errant mental sub-routines.
But until then, feel free to use these.
And remember - they expect you to be ignorant or to use brute force to fight back. Surprise them. Think better.
The Easy, Fast, Fun Way to Never Argue in 2022.
Go to sleep for 365 days….
Or learn how to easily steer any discussion in a productive manner with powerful new conversation skills.
Learn how right here
This is an example of the benefit we get from letting ideas cross disciplines. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you have a full toolbox, you can use the best solution for the problem.