From B.H. Liddel Hart's "Why Don't We Learn From History?"
We learn from history that in every age and every clime the majority of people have resented what seems in retrospect to have been purely matter-of-fact comment on their institutions. We learn too that nothing has aided the persistence of falsehood, and the evils resulting from it, more than the unwillingness of good people to admit the truth when it was disturbing to their comfortable assurance. Always the tendency continues to be shocked by natural comment and to hold certain things too “sacred” to think about.
I can conceive of no finer ideal of a man's life than to face life with clear eyes instead of stumbling through it like a blind man, an imbecile, or a drunkard—which, in a thinking sense, is the common preference. How rarely does one meet anyone whose first reaction to anything is to ask “Is it true?” Yet unless that is a man's natural reaction it shows that truth is not uppermost in his mind, and, unless it is, true progress is unlikely.
The largest mental gains I made in the shortest period of time were from studying rationality.
I was amazed to discover a couple years ago that there were people who regularly studied and discussed how to think, how to get correct and accurate beliefs about how the world works, how to understand how your mind works, and to get at the real reasons people make decisions.
The whole rationality thing is as addictive as crack-cocaine for me. I love it. The difference from crack, though, is you grow stronger and smarter the more you dive in.
Our minds are funny. We humans, we're "adaptation exercisers, not fitness maximizers" -
Fifty thousand years ago, the taste buds of Homo sapiens directed their bearers to the scarcest, most critical food resources - sugar and fat. Calories, in a word. Today, the context of a taste bud's function has changed, but the taste buds themselves have not. Calories, far from being scarce (in First World countries), are actively harmful. Micronutrients that were reliably abundant in leaves and nuts are absent from bread, but our taste buds don't complain. A scoop of ice cream is a superstimulus, containing more sugar, fat, and salt than anything in the ancestral environment.
Recently I had the amazing opportunity to go to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and see their new production Falstaff. Being the first production that I had seen in a major opera house I was shocked at the quality of the entire thing. I know that sounds ridiculous because, of course it would be amazing! It’s the Metropolitan Opera. BUT unless you have been there before you are NOT ready for all of the glitz and glamour that is included.
First the production quality is breathtaking. From the lighting, to the fifty foot tall set pieces, the costumes and staging. Everything was seemingly perfect for the entire production. What might have been even more glamorous that the show, were the amount of people there dressed to the nines. Suits, dresses, mink coats; it was all too much for me and just the right amount at the same time.
But of all the amazing things that made my first (and definitely not last) Met experience what it was, the most respectable was the talent on the stage that evening. I have been studying classical music for the past few years at an undergraduate level and will admit to only having the most limited experience in critiquing or even commenting on a production of this quality – but what I can say about the show is that is was ***Flawless. Every performer on that stage brought such a effortlessness and ease to their perfection of the role.