Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Following from this post and this one. This is why people can't walk against the wind, swim against the current even when they know that they should do it.

"Intellectual, scientific, and artistic activities belong to the province of Extremistan, where there is a severe concentration of success, with a very small number of winners claiming a large share of the pot. This seems to apply to all professional activities I find nondull and 'interesting' (I am still looking for a single counter-example, a nondull activity that belongs to Mediocristan)...

Acknowledging the role of this concentration of success, and acting accordingly, causes us to be punished twice: we live in a society where the reward mechanism is based on the illusion of the regular; our hormonal reward system also needs tangible and steady results." Black Swan, pg. 85

"You work on a project that does not deliver immediate or steady results; all the while, people around you work on projects that do. You are in trouble. Such is the lot of scientists, artists, and researchers lost in society rather than living in an insulated community or an artist colony." pg. 86

"Our intuitions are not cut out for nonlinearities. Consider our life in a primitive environment where process and result are closely connected. You are thirsty; drinking brings you adequate satisfaction. Or even in a not-so-primitive environment, when you engage in building, say, a bridge or a stone house, more work will lead to more apparent results, so your mood is propped by visible continuous feedback." pg. 87

"Researchers spent some time dealing with this notion of gratification; neurology has been enlightening us about the tension between the notions of immediate rewards and delayed ones. Would you like a massage today, or two next week? Well, the news is that the logical part of our mind, that 'higher' one, which distinguishes us from animals, can override our animal instinct, which asks for immediate rewards. So we are a little better than animals, after all-but perhaps not by much. And not all of the time." sf. 88

"It may be a banality that we need others for many things, but we need them far more than we realize, particularly for dignity and respect. Indeed, we have very few historical records of people who have achieved anything extraordinary without such peer validation-but we have the freedom to choose our peers. If we look at the history of ideas, we see schools of thought occasionally forming, producing unusual work unpopular outside the school. You hear about the Stoics, the Academic Skeptics, the Cynics, the Pyrrhonian Skeptics, the Essenes, the Surrealists, the Dadaists, the anarchists, the hippies, the fundamentalists. A school allows someone with unusual ideas with the remote possibility of a payoff to find company and create a microcosm insulated from others. The members of the group can be ostracized together-which is better than being ostracized alone." sf. 94

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