My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:
Today’s lesson is really a permutation of the last. Emotion (in this case, pride) interferes with critical thinking and produces bad results.
We see this all the time in both the young and old. For example, when you were a toddler, Shosh, you once said, “I know French — ‘french fries’!” You were proud — rightfully so — of having made the connection between “French” as a language and the use of that word in “french fries”. What you said as a two-year-old is adorable. However, when such sentiments are expressed by adults, they only make the speakers appear foolish. For example, a college graduate — who is a teacher no less! — once explained to me that drinking coffee will darken your skin, and drinking milk will whiten it. Yeah, right….
Unfortunately, such foolishness is not limited to those without advanced degrees. For example, someone who attended Tuft University’s Graduate School of International Affairs for a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy claimed she knew as much law a lawyer with a Juris Doctor. Another, who claims to have two master’s degrees and worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative, claimed she knew as much about medicine as a Medical Doctor. Recently, I overheard two Ph.D.’s assert that government issued driver licenses and other identification papers based on a fraudulent birth certificates (i.e., not one’s own) are valid because the papers are government issued. Wow…
(Regarding the latter, it should go without saying that anything achieved under fraud pretense cannot be cured by a subsequent lawful act because that latter was obtained under false pretense. For example, if someone stole my car and sold it for good money to an unsuspecting buyer on Craigslist, although the purchase may have followed all legal formalities [i.e., the seller forged my name on the car registration and the buyer successfully submitted it to the DMV to obtain a new DMV-issued registration for the car in the buyer’s name], the sale would still be invalid because the “seller” stole the car and was not its true owner. This is not hard to understand. See, e.g., https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-99-00570.pdf.)
Remember when I said what people say tells you something about them? What do these things tell you about the speakers? Are they wise or are they foolish?
Don’t be like them. Don’t let emotions, including pride and arrogance, cloud your judgement.
Likewise, don’t let cultural mores blind you and cloud your judgement. For example, in the Asian tradition, age is respected. As my mother always said, “70 learns from 71”. While that may have once been true in olden times, when formal education was limited to the few and experience was the teacher for the masses, in modern age, when education is accessible to the many, it is no longer valid. A 17 year-old with the academic degree Doctor of Medicine knows significantly more about medicine than a 90 year-old layman. http://www.kansashealthcarecareers.com/10-youngest-doctors-in-the-world/. Out of politeness, accord your elders a modicum of respect. However, that respect is temporary and lasts only until you have gathered sufficient information to judge on your own whether respect is appropriate. In other words, an elder telling you to do something doesn’t not entitle you to suspend your critical thinking faculties. Any failure resulting from your action would remain with you, not the person who told you to take that action. Thus, don’t let cultural norms, like respect for the elder, cloud your critical thinking. Sometimes,
Remember, your mind is your greatest asset. Money, title, fame, etc., may come and go, but if you have a sharp mind, you will always be able to rebuild. Friends of ours lost everything to a false friends who robbed them blind, but they were able to rebuild their lives to a higher degree than it was.
Because your mind is your greatest asset, make the most of it. Be informed. Think critically, broadly, and clearly.
Also, protect your greatest asset. Take good care of it. Nourish and use your mind well.
- Don’t indulge in negativity. It will darken your world view and bias your thinking — not to mention increase your stress, ruin your health, and shorten your life. See, e.g., https://www.attn.com/stories/2587/what-negative-thinking-does-your-brain; https://www.powerofpositivity.com/negative-thinking-affects-your-brain/; and,
As reported in an article in The Lancet, researchers in San Diego examined the death records of almost 30,000 Chinese-Americans and compared them to over 400,000 randomly selected white people. What they found was that Chinese-Americans, but not whites, die significantly earlier than normal (by as much as five years) if they have a combination of disease and birth year which Chinese astrology and Chinese medicine consider ill-fated.
The researchers found that the more strongly the Chinese-Americans attached to traditional Chinese superstitions, the earlier they died….
The researchers concluded that they died younger not because they have Chinese genes, but because they have Chinese beliefs. They believe they will die younger because the stars have hexed them. And their negative beliefs manifested as a shorter life span.
It’s not just Chinese Americans whose fears about their health can result in negative health outcomes. One study showed that 79% of medical students report developing symptoms suggestive of the illnesses they are studying. Because they get paranoid and think they’ll get sick, their bodies comply by getting sick.
- Eat healthy. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-smart-healthier-brain.
- Don’t smoke pot. It will weaken and dull your mind. See, e.g., https://cyber.harvard.edu/evidence99/marijuana/Health_1.html. (Also, don’t use e-cigarettes. They have lots of toxic chemicals. https://www.theverge.com/2016/7/27/12299784/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigs-chemicals-cancer-fda.)
- Exercise. It helps improve the brain. See, e.g., https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110.
- Stay away from negative people. They, too, hurt you. See, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/10/health/some-friends-indeed-do-more-harm-than-good.html.
My dearest sons, I love you more than words can describe, and I want the best for you. Surround yourself with good people and positive role models. Avoid, like the plague, bad elements. They do nothing but hurt you — even if only by modeling bad examples, limiting your world view and dreams, etc. This includes relatives on your mother’s side who have felony conviction, who have been banned from driving because of repeated substance abuse, and whose friends got into a knife fight during the wedding ceremony. Try to spend more time with my side of the family, where most of use have college degrees, many of us have advanced degrees, and most of us hold notable positions with prestigious organizations.
All my love, always,