The story we tell ourselves

I came across a very interesting passage in The Storytelling Animal: how stories make us human. It explains the Lake Wobegone Effect, the effect that we think of ourselves as above average when it comes to positive qualities. Like being a good driver (which for a matter of fact I am). In the book the author makes a link to depression.

Depressed people have lost their positive illusions; they rate their personal qualities much more plausibly than average. They are able to see, with terrible clarity, that they are not all that special.

Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: how stories make us human (p.174)

He then refers to psychologist Shelley Taylor, who said that “a healthy mind tells itself flattering lies. And if it does not lie to itself, it is not healthy.”

This is a perspective I hadn’t taken on depression before, but it makes a whole lot of sense. As someone who is on the realistic side of self-assessment I can tell you that it is indeed an unhealthy state to be always doubting your self. It would have really helped me sail through life if I had more self-esteem and a less realistic view on the world.

Because, as the philosopher William Hirstein puts it, positive illusions keep us from yielding to despair:
“The truth is depressing. We are going to die, most likely after illness; all our friends will likewise die; we are tiny insignificant dots on a tiny planet. Perhaps with the advent of broad intelligence and foresight comes the need for…self-deception to keep depression and its consequent lethargy at bay. There needs to be a basic denial of our finitude and insignificance in the larger scene. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah just to get out of bed in the morning.”

Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: how stories make us human (p.174)

Gottschall goes on to describe the role of a psychotherapist as someone who helps you to rewrite your life story. To give you a story you can live with.

A psychotherapist can therefore be seen as a kind of script doctor who helps patients revise their life stories so that they can play the role of protagonist again – suffering and flawed protagonists, to be sure, but protagonists who are moving toward the light.

Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: how stories make us human (p.175)

Spot on.

Excellent read by the way.

Door |2020-05-26T10:45:23+02:0026 mei 2020|flow, gelezen|2 Reacties

Read: History as a giant data set

I really enjoyed reading this article. A completely new way of researching history.

In its first issue of 2010, the scientific journal Nature looked forward to a dazzling decade of progress. By 2020, experimental devices connected to the internet would deduce our search queries by directly monitoring our brain signals. Crops would exist that doubled their biomass in three hours. Humanity would be well on the way to ending its dependency on fossil fuels.

A few weeks later, a letter in the same journal cast a shadow over this bright future. It warned that all these advances could be derailed by mounting political instability, which was due to peak in the US and western Europe around 2020. Human societies go through predictable periods of growth, the letter explained, during which the population increases and prosperity rises. Then come equally predictable periods of decline. These “secular cycles” last two or three centuries and culminate in widespread unrest – from worker uprisings to revolution.


The author of this stark warning was not a historian, but a biologist. For the first few decades of his career, Peter Turchin had used sophisticated maths to show how the interactions of predators and prey produce oscillations in animal populations in the wild. He had published in the journals Nature and Science and become respected in his field, but by the late 1990s he had answered all the ecological questions that interested him. He found himself drawn to history instead: could the rise and fall of human societies also be captured by a handful of variables and some differential equations?

History as a giant data set: how analysing the past could help save the future, The Guardian.
Door |2019-11-13T13:56:08+02:0013 november 2019|deze dag, gelezen|0 Reacties

Op de leeslijst: De lekkende bèta/technische pijpleiding en hoe deze te repareren

Vrouwen nemen nog steeds veel minder vaak dan mannen deel aan bèta/technische beroepsopleidingen in mbo en hoger onderwijs, terwijl werkgevers toch staan te springen om bèta/technisch opgeleid personeel (ROA, 2015) en de overheid zich al jaren inspant om samen met het onderwijs en bedrijfsleven de belangstelling voor bèta/techniek te verhogen (Techniekpact, 2013).

Uit de inleiding van De lekkende bèta/technische pijpleiding en hoe deze te repareren (2019)

Een rapport naar aanleiding van een onderzoek uitgevoerd door KBA Nijmegen en Universiteit Twente. Staat bij deze op de leeslijst voor deze week.

Door |2019-11-11T15:15:33+02:0011 november 2019|flow, gelezen, links, vrouw|0 Reacties

Gelezen: De meeste mensen deugen – Rutger Bregman

Ik las deze week een boek dat ik iedereen aanraad: De Meeste Mensen Deugen. Rutger Bregman zet op een rij welke verkeerde aannames we doen over onszelf, de mens, en over onze natuurlijke staat van samenleven. Hij ontleedt in zijn boek hoe ons zelfbeeld vervreemd is geraakt van de werkelijkheid. Onder andere door iconische wetenschappelijke experimenten te ontkrachten en naar het rijk der mythen te verwijzen (denk aan het Stanford prison experiment).

We blijken helemaal geen laagje vernis van beschaving te hebben over onze gewelddadige kern (de aanname die keer op keer herhaald wordt in onze maatschappij). We blijken in onze kern beschaafd te zíjn. Dat mensen onderling toch afschuwelijke gevechten aangaan heeft vooral te maken met machtsstructuren die zijn ontstaan toen we zijn begonnen met het wonen op één plek.

Ik vind het boek briljant opgezet en het leest nog lekker weg ook. Aan bijna elke zin hangt een referentie, wat resulteert in een referentielijst dat uit twintig procent van het boek bestaat. Het laat zien hoe veel onderzoek Bregman heeft gedaan om tot dit resultaat te komen. Een zeldzaam goed exemplaar tussen alle bestsellers die gebaseerd zijn op ongefundeerde meningen.

Eén van de adviezen waar Bregman mee begint en eindigt: stop met het lezen van het nieuws. Het geeft je een verknipt wereldbeeld. Mijn eigen interpretatie daarvan is vooral: stop met het volgen van sociale media. Sinds ik (bijna) nooit meer inlog op Facebook en Twitter heb ik meer rust in mijn hoofd om echt relevante dingen te lezen. Zoals het boek van Bregman.

Dus mijn advies: log deze week uit op Facebook/Insta/Twitter/Tinder en gebruik je vrijgekomen tijd om Bregman’s boek te lezen. Nu.

Door |2019-10-15T14:33:23+02:0015 oktober 2019|flow, gelezen|1 Reactie

Read: Adblocking: How About Nah?

Cory Doctorow writes that we’re on the brink of ’take-it-or-leave-it’ web browsing, meaning that toolmakers are no longer allowed to create ad-blocking tools. That would seriously suck.

The standard the W3C published—Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), for restricting playback of video—comes with many dangers for would-be adversarial interoperators, notably the risk of being sued under Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which bans tampering with “access controls” on copyrighted works and holds out both criminal and civil liability for toolsmiths who traffic in programs that let you change the rules embodied by EME.

One driving force behind the adoption of EME was the ever-tighter integrationbetween major browser vendors like Google, video distributors, and advertising networks. This created a lopsided power-dynamic that ultimately ended up in the standardization of a means of undoing the configurable Web—where the user is king. EME is the first crack in the wall that protected browsers from those who would thwart adversarial operability and take “how about nah?” off the table, leaving us with the kind of take-it-or-leave-it Web that the marketing industry has been striving for since the first pop-up ad.

Adblocking: How About Nah? by Cory Doctorow for EFF
Door |2019-07-30T14:46:35+02:0030 juli 2019|flow, gelezen|0 Reacties
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