World Views & Alternative Realities

I keep seeing a disconnect between how I view and how other people view the world. For example, there are members of Republican Party in the state and local governments that think that the coronavirus pandemic is largely over and that we are about to see a huge economic resurgence that is going to sweep President Trump, and by extension the Republican Party into office.

Another is the speed in which a vaccine will be produced for the pandemic. The historical rate for vaccines is roughly ten years. The fastest it has ever been done is for Ebola, which still took five years. However, there are people that think that a coronavirus vaccine will be available inside of one year, in addition to those that think is is gone already.

I, on the other hand, think that the pandemic will last two years, at minimum. We may have a few treatments that reduce the severity at some point in the disease progression, but it’ll cut the infection fatality rate from 1% to no less than 0.5%. And while it continues, there is going to be Great Depression impacts on the economies of the vast majority of the world’s economies, >90%. Obviously, this has important implications in the upcoming U.S. Presidential elections. With one view, Trump has re-election in the bag. In my view, he’s already toast.

We have roughly six months, and we will see whose world view was the correct one.

What Books Changed the Way You Think About Almost Everything? | Hacker News

Discussion about books that have changed people’s perspective, starting with original poster’s experience with Freakonomics. Quite a few interesting book recommendations in this thread.

A few recommendations I liked include: Peter Watson’s Ideas, Jonathan Haidt’s Righteous Mind, Donald Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things, Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication, Ramachandra Guha’s India After Gandhi, and Bruce Beuno de Mesquita’s The Dictator’s Handbook.

After reading the discussion, I thought it might be worthwhile to start a Key Books page on this site.

Words & Worldviews

I was reading another one of those end of year life hack articles yesterday, about how changing one word can change your attitude toward obligations. The crux: instead of saying, “I have to wake up to go to work at 0600,” you change it to get, “I get to wake up to go to work at 0600.”

This simple substitution changes your attitude toward what you are doing. It is now phrased in terms of an opportunity. It makes you wonder what kind of changes would happen by reframing traditional ideas in a positive fashion.

Instead of a Ten Commandments of “Thou shall not kill” you could reframe it in a positive, “Thou shall be peaceful and help all living beings flourish.” The words we use create our worldview.

This is an important point. Our attitudes, our opinions, our ways of looking at the world are created whole cloth in our minds. They don’t exist out there in the world. They exist only in our minds. Ideas are exchanged between minds through symbols. It is our acceptance of them that gives them the appearance of being real.

In Buddhism, this is the fundamental problem of life. The mind creates fictions. We believe that we are our thoughts and emotions. We are dissatisfied with the world. We wish it to be other than it is or worry that a satisfactory situation will change (as it always does). We want to be more powerful, famous, rich, beautiful, taller, more intelligent, stronger, thinner, etc. All of which are ego delusion that assumes that the way we view the world is how the world really is and that you would be better off if you got what you wanted (even though you most likely would just want something else).

While it would be nice to be able to take the world as it comes and live in the moment as an enlightened Buddha, very few of us are there yet. In the meantime, we free to find meaning in life, even in situations of terrible suffering such as in the concentration camp Victor Frankl lived in.

In comfortable circumstances, why choose suffering? You get to choose to look at the world any way that you want. Why not start the New Year by improving your worldview and your outlook? Why not start by taking an accounting of what is really needed, how much we have and being grateful for so much abundance?