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I hope you enjoy it!
EDIT: Found this cool stamp.
For those interested, here are a few of the main science sources:
The Luck Factor [link] - Richard Wiseman Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire UK
Predictably Irrational [link] - Dan Ariely, MIT professor of behavioral economics
Learned Optimism [link] - Martin Seligman, Robert A. Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania
Mindset [link] - Carol Dweck professor of Psychology at Stanford (and prior at Harvard among others)
Positivity [link] - Barbara Fredrickson UNC Chapel Hill
Lastly, here's the current draft of the back cover blurb:
The hubbub over humbug…
There’s been some quarrel recently about growing popularity of New Age beliefs, Synchronicity and just plain positive thinking. As with any case of competing beliefs many are firmly planted the realist camp of “we don’t buy that nonsense” or the spiritualist camp of “you’re just close-minded”. Perhaps the skeptic and the mystic can benefit from a combined viewpoint as an alternative to “us versus them” thinking. The goal of skeptics and mystics alike is happy, healthy living, which is achieved through good habits. Our beliefs influence our habits. Thus a belief that fire burns is more help than a belief that fire tastes good. On the other hand a belief that fire tastes bad also prevents people from burning their mouths. While it’s important that we acknowledge an inconvenient truth, perhaps there can also be a useful illusion.
Nice Guys Finish First
In 1981 Robert Axelrod shocked the scientific community by suggesting in his paper the Evolution of Cooperation that animals (including humans) might have evolved to be helpful and nice. This is shocking because it’s popular in recent decades to believe that people are basically selfish and that “nice guys finish last”; a good way to discourage cooperation. Reality is often not what we think, from the flat earth to quantum physics. How many of us are unaware that peace breaking out along the front posed a significant challenge for generals during the first two years of WWI? It seems by denying our helpful nature we may be shooting ourselves in the foot.
An Experimental Solution
The tension between skeptics and mystics can be summed up in the philosophies of consciousness and determinism. The philosophy of consciousness states that your will creates physical reality. The philosophy of determinism states that consciousness is an illusion created by the chemicals in your brain. These views can’t both be entirely accurate. While you’re likely to have a strong opinion, it may not be necessary for us to know which is true. There is an element of truth in every myth. With a focus on traditional non-quantum research in medicine, economics, evolution, behavior and psychology and a liberal dose of humor, the Optimist’s Wager makes a strong case in plain language that several non-determinist beliefs may be our best bet for health and prosperity even if determinism is true.
[p. 10, last sentence, second paragraph]
(For the record I don't recommend you try it yourself.)I don't think this is needed. It's an inspirational story and some people may benefit from trying it themselves. It demishes the quality of the message for me.
[p.13, first sentence, last paragraph]
"... the more we're blinded by anger or fear, the less effective pleas to reason become."I love this quote, very true.
I also enjoyed your reference to American Beauty, a fantastic movie--now I want to see it again. As well as the plug for How to Win Friends and Influence People. I've yet to read it, but my husband has it and I have every intention of sitting down with it at some point. I'm told it's a fantastic book, though.
It is similar to The Secret and WTBDWK, so it has sort of already been done, but you're not using any inflated vocabulary and I think that's fantastic. This is something that anyone could pick up, read, and understand.
I like that you acknowledged the fact that we can have both mindsets in different fields, too. I'm guilty of it myself; I'm convinced I'm incapable of drawing, but I love learning and seek means of expanding my knowledge-base all the time.
The cover art for this is fantastic too, I'd really like to see it on my book shelf.
It was a good mixture of humor, pop culture, and science, which made it much more palatable for someone like me, who has only a very rudimentary understanding of the subject. Since that was your intent, I'd say mission accomplished!
I've always found psychology to be very interesting stuff, though my experience is limited to one very boring textbook and a tv show that I used to watch often ( Which consisted of a camera in a college classroom and different lectures each episode.)
Definitely a lot of thought provoking material in there.
Very well done. I would definitely read the entire book given the opportunity.
Also, I think you may be the smartest cartoonist in the history of time.
It's really nice to have folks reading the teaser chapter. And I must admit that I actually feel perpetually behind on this project. But then I'm also finding new material that "must go in the book" still pretty frequently after a couple of years of working on it. D'oh!
And I need to update the comic strips in there and so forth. Like I want to add a small comic strip visual for the drinking-age question as a comparison to the visual for the Wason selection task. Hopefully it will help. I also still feel like some of the descriptions are dry -- like I decided to go with a story to explain the polarization experiment, but it still feels too dry to me. Just not sure how to make that passage more interesting. I just revised the ending of the first chapter a week or so ago to make it sound less "hokey". Hopefully I'll eventually get everything together enough to publish it in the next couple years.
And I certainly wouldn't go with "smartest" or "of all time"... I'll be happy if folks enjoy my writing and feel like it gets them thinking. So given this comment, I'd say mission accomplished. Thanks!
p.s. Yeah, the textbooks are a real chore to read. I have one on my nightstand, I'm about 1/3rd through. What was the name of the TV show?
The tv show was part of a distance education course for Mount Saint Vincent University, mainly featuring Dr.Stephen Perrot and occasionally a few other, less interesting, people.
Unfortunately I don't think it's on tv anymore. I haven't seen it listed in the guide for probably 3 or 4 years now. Which sucks, because it was the only educational program I've ever had any interest in. I used to get up at 6 just to watch it.
I might even consider doing the course sometime in the future, presuming it's still offered. I did a quick search for the lectures online and couldn't find them.
One idea that is present in both Spiritual and Scientific philosophies, although many of them disagree on other things, is that everything is connected. Both rely on this idea to allow the possibility of further growth and understanding. So we have Unity. From a certain perspective, since on some level the universe must be a whole containing all things, this level of Unity is God.
At the same time as there is unity, there is individuality, however. We do not see things as all one object right now. Not only that, but we tend to disagree on what is true and not. When there is such conflict and polarity, how can we unify the picture?
Perhaps one way to unify, is recognize that both sides are right, and both sides are wrong. The idea is that we each, on an individual level, create the universe. My universe is different from your universe, and indeed, within my universe you can only be who I say you are. In your universe, if you believe I am Buddha - or that I'm some idiot - I am, and you won't disagree, because it's obviously true. The same for my beliefs.
So, the question becomes; is my universe the only one, or are there infinitely many others, or is there only one, but its creator is someone higher than myself? Once again, since I believe in unity, all must be true and false, and that's okay (and not, of course).
So I create you,
whilst you create me,
whilst we both create
I like to call this Unity Theory. It's a fun ride.
So when we disagree, I'll try to remember that you are right, and "someday" once I have achieved Unity I will know that this is true.
This idea of oneness / interconnectedness is discussed a bit in one of the later chapters of the book, although it's not particularly mentioned in the first chapter. The chapter that does talk about it is titled Peace In Our Time: the Milgram Experiment, Public Policy and Passive Resistance. It does mention some spiritual descriptions, but focuses mostly on cognitive / behavioral / evolutionary unity. For example peace and cooperation was the biggest problem for the generals during the early part of WWI, because we naturally tend to reject violence. So the men at the front on both sides would create these truces (spoken or not, I'm not sure) in which they would merely pretend to fight, while each agreeing to fire their mortars and such far away from any troops so no one would be harmed.
Choice is the most random, and yet the most predictable thing I know. Choice is what you get when fate and change merge into one concept and process. Then suddenly neither concept alone is completely accurate.
BTW... Hi, I'm back! (unofficially, check my journal for info)
My boss at my new job made a similar sort of comment when I was up here for my job interview. He was talking about rolling a die and saying that it lands on a particular side as a result of gravity and other forces that affect it, so it's not really random, it just appears random to us as we're observing it...
I agree, however I also think when we talk about things being "random", it's the observation or perception of randomness that we're really after. The die for example may not ultimately be trully random, but it's "random enough" or at least "random in context" to the extent that when you're playing a board game, the dice will create the expected bell curves over time while also preventing any of the players from predicting the outcome of an individual toss. And actually that's much what the book is about -- making long-term choices in our lives on the basis of those statistical observations about how people behave and which beliefs or behaviors result in the most long-term success and happiness in life.
I should know. I'm an incurably optimistic person, and I consider my life in standard terms to be the biggest streak of good "luck" possible. Is my life really that great, or does it all just seem that way because of my outlook? The way I see it, both are true. There's not much of a difference. That concept is the sort of vibe I get from this book of yours, although admittedly I still have yet to crack the cover and read this first chapter you posted. Don't worry, I'll get around to it.