What does the soul of the Marionette say?

I recently finished reading the excellent book The Soul of The Marionette by John Gray. I would put this book in the same genre as one of my other favorite books, Finite and Infinite Games. Both books are short metaphorical essays on progress in (human) life.

Here are my notes from the book.

1/ First of all, what is a marionette? It’s a puppet controlled by a human via strings from above. The reason it’s graceful in its movements is because it lacks self-awareness that it’s being controlled by someone else ...  Read the entire post β†’

Notes from The Elephant in the Brain

1/ Reading @robinhanson and @kevinsimler new book β€˜Elephant in the brain’. Here are my notes on big ideas from the book.

via official book website

2/ Human intelligence evolved as a result of arms race of getting ahead in social situations where two contrasting incentives always existed: to co-operate or to compete.

3/ Unlike chimps where hierarchy is strictly from alpha male to least powerful individuals, language allowed humans to form coalitions and keep most aggressive individuals in check. These coalitions are where laws and norms come from

4/ Since norms cannot be exactly specified, human brains evolved to find subtle ways to work around them (lying) and to detect others working their ways around them (detecting lying)

5/ Since humans have to co-operate but others suspect that our intentions are not true, we evolved honest signals such as body language, shame, guilt, etc.

6/ Since other humans can detect our dishonest intentions, lying to others is difficult but we still have to find ways to take opportunities to exploit social situations to get ahead – to get sex, status, power.

7/ Our brains evolved to lie to themselves in order to give honest signals in social situations. That is why in order to blend in a social society, it’s not just enough to lie that you believe in god, you have to actually believe that (taking help from all sorts of cognitive biases)

8/ Since we act and verbalize conscious thoughts in social situations, our brains give censored version of reality to consciousness that mostly contains info that makes us feel good about ourselves (such that others mistake us for actually being that good)

9/ This last idea is radical.

This means all our conscious thoughts (and ideas about ourselves) are hopelessly twisted ...  Read the entire post β†’