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Newsletter: Being Critical of Ideas

(Volume 2, Issue 3)


Quote of the week

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what that you know for sure that just ain't so."

-- Mark Twain

Three recent articles


1. Robert Minto writes about his misadventure with note taking. Note taking can illuminate one's thinking; however, Minto shows through his journey that excessive reliance on note taking "Creat[es] a too-comprehensive portrait of your own thoughts can amount to locking yourself into a labyrinth of your own preconceptions," not to mention the sheer energy it absorbs. Lesson is to not mistake instruments of learning for the ends.


2. In his recent series of essays, Peter Zeihan frames recent social upheaval into the context of the economic cycle, technology changes, and deepening political factions. Part 1: Living in the Lightning, Part 2: Searching for Truth, Part 3: End of the Republican Alliance, Part 4: Building a Better Democratic Party...Maybe (next week).

3. Mentors generously and graciously guide the next generation. Fred Wilson articulates the special relationships he and others have had with mentors, and how special such relationships are. No matter your stage in growth on any subject, cultivate mentor-mentee relationships and enjoy the fruits of the wisdom.

Topic of the week: Being Critical of Ideas


The quote at the top of this week's issue (attributed to Mark Twain but likely originated from Leo Tolstoy) has taken special meaning amidst recent events. Many commonly held beliefs are being challenged, for better or for worse.


Being professionally skeptical of another's assertion leads to progress. How can one be critical of ideas? Rely on data. Be curious and humble. Resist categorizations. Ask the "five whys." Make the counter-argument. Then, revise ideas with uncovered insights that are closer to the truth.


The same applies to one's own beliefs. Challenging one's own commonly held ideas is uncomfortable work. But the fruit of the work is new insight and personal growth.


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