Interesting Things I Discovered

This page is a collection of the best articles, podcasts, videos, and tweets on varied topics. I’ve spent years and years collecting them. I’m on a mission to use the internet to accelerate the spread of interesting ideas. I hope this page will help you spend more time learning and less time searching.

It is a mix of stories, ideas, insights, facts, and more. Read the excerpt to know the gist. If it intrigues you, follow the link to the source. They are arranged in reverse chronological order—with the newest at the top and the oldest at the bottom.

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The Secret to a Meaningful Life is Simpler than You Think — People are mistaken when they feel their lives are meaningless. The error is based on their failure to recognise what does matter, instead becoming overly focused on what they believe is missing from their existence. Most of the people who complained about life’s meaninglessness even found it difficult to explain what they took the notion to mean.

Why Can’t We Trust Science Any More? — One by one, this film dismantles the machinations that aim to turn science against itself. With the help of declassified archives and testimonies from experts, lobbyists and politicians, this investigation plunges us into the science of doubt. Along with a team of experts, including philosophers, economists, cognitive scientists, politicians, and scholars, we explore concrete examples of how doubt can be sown, and try to understand the process.

How to Cope With Being Underestimated — Anger, redemption, and revenge are very good motivators when you’re underestimated. They’re healthy parts of ourselves. Once you realise that a person is trying to shame, gaslight, or humiliate you (by underestimating you), once you know that, it’s very easy. Turning the tables in the moment can check the underestimating offender right into place.

The Joy of Being Animal — Many of us still deny that human actions are the result of our animal being, instead maintaining that they’re the manifestation of reason. We think our world into being. And that’s sometimes true. The trouble comes when we think our thoughts are our being.

How do Vaccines Work — Vaccines work by simulating an infection in the body. This isn’t a real infection, but it teaches the immune system to recognise and neutralise similar pathogens later. If the immune system can stop viruses from replicating, they no longer pose a health risk to the vaccinated individual.

The Ladders of Wealth Creation: A Step-By-Step Roadmap to Building Wealth — What lessons do you need to learn to go from odd jobs around the neighbourhood to owning a real estate empire? From working as a freelancer to selling your own digital products? What about from working at Wendy’s to owning a SaaS company earning over $1 million per month?

How Busyness Leads to Bad Decisions — When we’re stressed and feeling pressed for time, our attention and cognitive bandwidth narrow as if we’re in a tunnel. It can sometimes be a good thing, helping us hyper-focus on our most important work. But tunnelling has a dark side. When we get caught up in a time scarcity trap of busyness, a panicked firefighting mode, we might only have the capacity to focus on the most immediate, often low-value tasks right in front of us rather than the big project or the long-range strategic thinking that would help keep us out of the tunnel in the first place.

Dating While Dying — “I’d rather be getting a bone marrow biopsy,” I texted my friends before marching out to meet my first date in more than a decade. But I went. And it was fine. Fun, actually. So I stuck with it and dated some more. After one great date, I had a crushing realisation: I have only the present to offer, not a hopeful future. “You don’t know that,” a friend told me.

Stop Trying to Raise Successful Kids — Kids learn what’s important to adults not by listening to what we say, but by noticing what gets our attention. And in many developed societies, parents now pay more attention to individual achievement and happiness than anything else. However much we praise kindness and caring, we’re not actually showing our kids that we value these traits.

The Neuroscience of Anxiety — Fear, anxiety and worrying have different, technical meanings. Fear is the feeling associated with imminent danger. Anxiety is the feeling of uncertain threat. Worrying is anxious and repetitive thinking.

The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius — When you look at the lives of people who’ve done great work, you see a consistent pattern. They often begin with a bus ticket collector’s obsessive interest in something that would have seemed pointless to most of their contemporaries. One of the most striking features of Darwin’s book about his voyage on the Beagle is the sheer depth of his interest in natural history. His curiosity seems infinite. Ditto for Ramanujan, sitting by the hour working out on his slate what happens to series.

I’m 72. So What? — I cried when I turned 20, the end of my teenage years. I felt old again when I turned 34 — with a 2-year-old toddler, and facing the imminent arrival of 35, because it was only five years short of the dreaded 40. And now, paradoxically, I feel younger, more vibrant and in better shape physically and emotionally than I did at 60, or even at 50. So is that all a question of perspective? And is that a slippery concept, that concept of “old” varying from culture to culture, generation to generation and from decade to decade?

The Myth and Magic of Generating New Ideas — All problem solvers and problem inventors have had the experience of thinking, and then overthinking, themselves into a dead end. The question we’ve all encountered—and, inevitably, will encounter again—is how to get things moving and keep them moving. That is, how to get unstuck.

It’s Not Enough to Be Right—You Also Have to Be Kind — We care a lot less about the people who think differently than us and put little effort into persuading them. That’s because persuasion is no longer the goal—it’s signalling.

5-Hour Workdays? 4-Day Workweeks? Yes, Please — Because everyone can talk to everyone at any time through email and instant messages, we just let work flow along as an unstructured conversation made up of missives flying back and forth through the electronic ether. This scales up the way we’ve always naturally collaborated in small groups.

Psychology Of Fraud: Why Good People Do Bad Things — In general, when we think about bad behaviour, we think about it being tied to character: Bad people do bad things. But that model, researchers say, is profoundly inadequate.

Is Sending Text Reminders Behavioural Economics? — Labelling this intervention behavioural economics seems like a stretch; more fitting might be to call it design, communication, or common sense, and I can’t see how the design of such an intervention is helped by any specialised knowledge of behavioural economics.

Turing As a Runner — I have such a stressful job that the only way I can get it out of my mind is by running hard; its the only way I can get some release.

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz — This documentary depicts the life of Aaron Swartz — an American computer programmer, entrepreneur, and Internet activist. He’s also credited as one of Reddit’s cofounder. Swartz’s work focused on civic awareness and activism. He founded the online group Demand Progress, known for its campaign against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). By the time I finished watching I had tears.

Schadenfreude with Bite — The troll has it both ways. He is magnificently indifferent to social norms, which he transgresses for the lulz, yet often at the same time a vengeful punisher: both the Joker and Batman. The troll acts as a self-appointed cultural critic in a tradition of clowns and jesters, while simultaneously plausibly maintaining that it’s all in good fun and shouldn’t be taken (too) seriously.

Adam Neumann and The Art of Failing Up — While WeWork’s future looks morbid, former CEO Adam Neumann exited the company with $1Bn. It’s a good lesson on how we often get fooled by show and tell. It’s also a lesson on banking upon one’s qualities, and how not to be a sucker.

Buffet Lines Are Terrible, But Let’s Try to Improve — My company has a buffet every Friday, and the lines grow to epic proportions when the food arrives. I’ve suspected for years that the “classic” buffet line system is a deeply flawed and inefficient method, and every time I’m stuck in the line has made me more convinced.

Fear is Boring, and Other Tips for Living a Creative Life — We’re all creative souls already, we just need to figure out how to harness inspiration and unleash the creative spirit within.

Cached Thoughts — It’s a good guess that the actual majority of human cognition consists of cache lookups. This thought does tend to go through my mind at certain times.

Terror Management Theory — A basic psychological conflict results from having a self-preservation instinct while realising that death is inevitable. This conflict produces terror, and the terror is then managed by embracing cultural beliefs, or symbolic systems that act to counter biological reality with more durable forms of meaning and value.

IQ is Largely a Pseudoscientific Swindle — IQ measures extreme unintelligence, rather than intelligence. Low IQ is a good indicator that you might be Forrest Gump. But a high IQ doesn’t mean that you are an Einstein. A theoretical exam does not determine how well you fare in the real world. If you want to detect how well someone does at something, say starting a business, or playing tennis, make them do it.

How Silicon Valley Lost Its Conscience — What makes the DoorDash story so perfectly emblematic of Silicon Valley—even more so than those of the mammoth Facebooks, Googles, and Amazons of the world—is that someone like Xu can take an industry as innocuous as delivering hummus and pizzas and find a way to be utterly immoral while disrupting it.

How Google Discovered the Value of Surveillance — Wi-Fi-enabled and networked, the thermostat’s intricate, personalised data stores are uploaded to Google’s servers. Each thermostat comes with a “privacy policy,” a “terms-of-service agreement,” and an “end-user licensing agreement.”

What Really Happens vs. How The Marketing Team Talks — is a geek comic site. If you are a developer, you cannot help but fall in love with it.

How a Malaysian Film Became a Global Icon for Diversity — I love digging out less popular YouTube videos. I also love world cinema. This video explores Sepet, a Malaysian movie, and its exploration of multiculturalism.

Mindful Context Switching: Multitasking For Humans — I had talked about the myth of multitasking along with its adverse effects on productivity. However, this article takes a different view with something called Mindful Context Switching.

A Famous Argument Against Free Will Has Been Debunked — As a philosophical question, whether humans have control over their own actions had been fought over for centuries before Libet walked into a lab. But Libet introduced a genuine neurological argument against free will. His finding set off a new surge of debate in science and philosophy circles. And over time, the implications have been spun into cultural lore.

Men May Have Evolved Better ‘Making Up’ Skills — A woman’s relationship with another woman is often gravely damaged if one woman achieves greater status than the other or somehow outdoes her. Men, by contrast, seem to better tolerate these kinds of ups and downs, which may be why men seem better than women at maintaining large same-sex social networks.

The Work You Do, The Person You Are — I have worked for all sorts of people since then, geniuses and morons, quick-witted and dull, bighearted and narrow. I’ve had many kinds of jobs, but since that conversation with my father I have never considered the level of labour to be the measure of myself, and I have never placed the security of a job above the value of home.

What if Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong? — Will was “that kid.” Every school has a few of them: that kid who’s always getting into trouble, if not causing it. That kid who can’t stay in his seat and has angry outbursts and can make a teacher’s life hell. That kid the other kids blame for a recess tussle. Will knew he was that kid too. Ever since first grade, he’d been coming to school anxious, defensive, and braced for the next confrontation with a classmate or teacher.