‘Miracle-Gro’ for Your Brain – 7 Takeaways No. 122
Exercise, Negativity, Science, ADHD, Stewardship, Echo Chambers, Curation, Tax
1. “‘Miracle-Gro’ for your brain”
How exercise leads to sharper thinking and a healthier brain – Gretchen Reynolds – (Washington Post)
I think many people understand that, yes, exercise is good for you. Consider this more data along those lines, but particularly focused on cognition and brain function.
… this research tells us that exercise, fast or slow, should reliably protect our ability to think.
Do this: Protect your ability.
2. “Things that people consume are the things that get created.”
Hank Green – (TikTok)
I don’t normally link to TikTok videos, but this one’s so on-point I couldn’t not include it.
It seems backwards: we consume what gets created, right? Not the other way around? The thing is, in today’s world of content creation, it’s exactly the reverse. Creators notice what things we consume, and thus create more of it. So. Much. More.
And it gets worse.
… for every word expressing a negative emotion in a headline that increased the click through rate to that article by 2.3%.
That creates a feedback loop of negativity. There are so many negative headlines because we’re more likely to click on negative headlines. Negativity does better, and thus fosters the creation of more negativity, out of proportion to the reality of the world.
Do this: Watch where you click.
3. “Scientific findings do not fall on blank minds”
Nutrition Science’s Most Preposterous Result – David Merritt Johns – (The Atlantic)
More than anything, this article illustrates just how hard science really is.
One of his studies had led him to an unusual conclusion: Among diabetics, eating half a cup of ice cream a day was associated with a lower risk of heart problems.
Something that one the surface seems so preposterous, so counter-intuitive, and so contrary to commonly accepted thinking … and yet, there it is. The article goes into more details about all the ways they tried to debunk it, and how it stood up under scrutiny. It was a difficult path. Heck, it remains a difficult path because so many in the profession — even when faced with the data — refuse to accept it.
We think of science as being ultimately objective. We want it to be. We need it to be. And yet, it’s all performed by humans with biases, pre-conceived ideas, and various forms of skin in the game. And we know how difficult it is to rid someone of their pre-conceived ideas.
My concern is the anti-science crowd will exploit this scenario as fodder for their anti-whatever campaigns and further manure spreading. “Even the scientists don’t believe their own data” and so on. That’s not the point. The point is science is hard, and questioning results is important. But so is accepting objective data. And that’s sometimes easier said than done.
Do this: Question your assumptions and preconceptions.
4. “There’s no objective test”
Adult ADHD Is the Wild West of Psychiatry – Yasmin Tayag – (The Atlantic)
I need to be clear: I’m not trying to disrespect anyone diagnosed with ADHD, or truly believes they have it.
Unfortunately, it feels very trendy right now to self-diagnose as having ADHD. The problem is that adult ADHD is already a diagnostic mess, and those who claiming to have it without a thorough diagnosis could make things much harder for those that actually do.
Consider the Adderall shortage, which is one focus of the article.
It’s the nature of the spike in demand for Adderall—among adults—that has some ADHD experts worried about “whether the demand is legitimate,” Goodman said. It’s possible that at least some of these new Adderall patients, he said, are getting prescriptions they do not need.
Like I said, ADHD is real, and affects many people. This isn’t about them. My concern is that it’s almost become a status symbol in some cohorts, and that’s … concerning.
Do this: Ignore trends. Get thorough diagnoses, as best you can.
5. “Theft is a tax on abundance”
The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman – (ebook)
It’s an interesting way to think of the other taxes we pay in life.
Everything we do has a toll attached to it. Waiting around is a tax on traveling. Rumors and gossip are the taxes that come from acquiring a public persona. Disagreements and occasional frustration are taxes placed on even the happiest of relationships. Theft is a tax on abundance and having things that other people want. Stress and problems are tariffs that come attached to success. And on and on and on.
Holiday’s Stoic approach is to simply pay your taxes. My take is a little less accepting: when the opportunity arises to control how we are taxed, it’s worth acting on. If it’s out of our control … well, the Stoics have an approach for that: pay your taxes, enjoy what you get to keep, and move on.
Do this: Appreciate what you have.
6. “Practice stewardship where you can”
Leaving Things Better – Steve Makofsky – (makoism blog)
This is more than just packing out your trash on a hike.
A mindset shift I’ve tried to strive towards consciously is that you should ‘leave things better than you found them.’
You can apply this to any aspect of life – a relationship, work, treating people/nature, cleaning up after yourself, doing the laundry, mentoring people, etc. It’s crucial to practice stewardship where you can.
Stewardship — “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care” — caught my eye. Our time is fleeting. Nothing is truly ours forever. Taking proper care of what we have while we have it leaves the world a better place. I like the mind shift.
Do this: Be a good steward of what you have.
7. “Weird things happen in echo chambers”
Of Course This Is How the Intelligence Leak Happened – Charlie Warzel – (The Atlantic)
Online group chats. Little, impossible to monitor, echo chambers.
For decades, researchers have warned of the polarizing effects of echo chambers across social networks; group chats realize this dynamic fully.
The intelligence leak? A 21-year-old trying to impress others in a group chat. The SVB collapse? Rumors that took life in a group chat.
I’m not saying group chats are a bad thing. Just that, as yet another way society self-organizes, they add an interesting and complex dynamic.
Do this: Beware your echo chambers wherever they may be.
7 Takeaways is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
8. “Themes often become agendas”
The Value of Curation – Leo Notenboom – (Blog)
A reflection on the metamorphosis of 7 Takeaways. Where it started, and several realizations along the way.
While I don’t have a target audience, other than myself, I do occasionally think of a few of the 40-somethings in my life, and think about what I might want for them
Do this: Share what interests you with others. It can be valuable.
More links & thoughts
Tipping Confusion – (New York Times) – It was confusing to begin with, then the pandemic and technology happened.
Congress Today Is Older Than It’s Ever Been – (FiveThirtyEight) – Good: it reflects an overall aging populace. Bad: they’re least prepared to deal with contemporary issues like technology.
The “Wilhelm Scream” recording session – for real. Very cool. (See if you can pick out which version “made it”.)
What I’m Reading
It’s Easier Than You Think – Sylvia Boorstein
The Fall of Colossus – D.F.Jones
Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street – John Brooks
Be Your Future Self Now: The Science of Intentional Transformation – Benjamin P. Hardy
The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman