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Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I've been reading a book written by the silent movie actor Douglas Fairbanks. It's called "Laugh and Live". It's written in a style that must have been popular back in the 20s and 30s. Very positive and nothing but self help advice from one of the most successful guys of that era. Fairbanks must have felt loved and he was giving back. I'm on a chapter now where he talks about good books.
Books by such men as Marden and Hubbard are great generators of the electricity of doing things. They have put into words those innermost emotions which are the instruments of success. They point out a way we may safely follow. They loan us inspiration which causes us to act for ourselves. They give us thoughts that are useful and practical which we never would have gained by virtue of our own reasoning power. 
It is the corniest book ever written but I love it.  I'm probably the most negative guy that ever blogged. I know that I am a nattering nabob of negativity and that people are turned off by that energy. That is why I read Douglas Fairbanks and Dale Carnegie. I, more than most, need to be reminded that reality is what we perceive. Science is not just what we perceive but pointing out how everyone is wrong all the time is a bummer.

Still, some of my favorite books seem to point to fallacy of reasoning. A Drunkards Walk, Wrong, How We Know What Isn't So, On Bullshit and Everything Is Obvious Once You Know the Answer, are just a few of the books that have inspired me to become a more critical thinker and disregard fears of turning people off of my message. Den of Thieves, The Big Short, and 13 Bankers are some of my favorite books on people who succeed while simultaneously driving their industry into the ground. I read biographies like "I Fatty" about the rise and fall of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. Somehow his tragedy is more interesting than the mundane existence of a biotech guy destined to live an unexamined life. I'm a devout atheist but I don't care to read the latest books on the subject. It is uninteresting because I don't need any reasoning to help me clear up any thoughts on supernatural beings. I read James Randis Flim Flam and I think it's a book that should be mandatory reading at every college in the U.S. He touches on how people believe and why they fight like hell to believe in things they want to believe in, in spite of the facts. I like Malcolm Gladwell even though, as one reader informed me, is a bit of a Cargo Cult social scientist himself. Nonetheless, he has interesting notions and it makes you think. He led me to The Checklist Manifesto. Imagine the complexity of building a skyscraper or running a busy restaurant. Why is biotech so simple and such a failure? I like reading about old Hollywood. Flapper, I Fatty, Minutes of the Last Meeting, Good Night Sweet Prince, Hollywoods Hellfire Club, were all good. These people also led interesting lives and in the end they grew old and came back down to earth. They were human beings that we held up as people we want to be. In examining their lives we get an idea of who we are. Imperfect human beings who have to get up and go to work.

It's clear that I don't read much fiction. Just what I read in the science journals. Wa wa wah! Debbie Downer. What Fairbanks had to say about books is very true. They inspire us and give us thoughts that we wouldn't have on our own. That is what eats at me with modern day science. There are too many intuitive thoughts that need to be proven. Upon examination you find out that those thoughts were too simple. That is when my mind starts to search for explanations. That is also the time I'm sent back into the lab to get the data to fit the preconceived notions. The narratives of the scientists that I've worked for was fiction. Reality is so much more interesting. Without coming to an understanding of the human mind and why we believe such nonsense, why so many people get away with bullshit and rise to the top is hard to fathom. If it's hard to fathom, I'm right there, ready to take notes.

The world is full of diversions that are known to be fiction. Movies, sit coms, and books. Other things are bullshit passed off as reality such as John Edward talking to dead people. I don't mind it because I can avoid it if I don't find it amusing. What I mind is the Flim Flam that has seeped into the world where I go to get away from fiction. I want my reality to be challenging. I want to struggle to understand until one day it all hits me like a ton of bricks and I'm blown away by the amazing world that I live in. I'm not just a negative guy. I'm truly interested in this world and how it works.


Ozymandius said...

Thanks for your insights. Guess I'm on a similar wavelength. Can't write it down like you do though. Well done.

Ozymandius said...
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