New Information

The ability to process new information and adjust accordingly is an important sign of intellectual engagement.

I read recently about a recent study of “the backfire effect.” Some people, when confronted with evidence that conflicts with a belief, come to hold the original belief even more strongly.

It’s the kind of thing that drives Paul Krugman crazy in the national conversation about Obamacare.

I suppose we can all take a lesson from The Dude. If we can’t change our minds, our analysis, in light of new information, well then…

The Rich Are Different

As we enter an election season during which income inequality is likely to be a defining issue, I am reminded of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story “The Rich Boy“:

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.”

As relevant today as when it was first published in 1926. Need proof?

Serious About Serial

Serial LogoLike so many others, I’ve been obsessed by the Adnan Syed case explored in Serial.

So many unanswered questions. Such an elusive truth.

And, like many others, I was left unsatisfied by the end of the program. In real life, criminal cases aren’t cracked by the end of the hour.

But Serial listeners are dogged.

DC lawyer Susan Simpson dug into the case, and through relentless logic, destroyed the State’s case against Syed. Her blog, The View From L2, has the best analysis of the evidence this side of Reddit.

Unlike Susan Koenig, Simpson has a clear conclusion: The case the State presented to convict Syed is demonstrably false.

She’s not saying Syed is innocent. But she is saying the State’s sloppy, perjury-riddled case collapses of its own weight when you closely examine the evidence presented.

If you are a Serial fan, read her analysis.

TL;DR

“Too long, didn’t read.”

We’ve all felt it, whether we verbalized it or not. As people read less and less, we all have to resist the temptation to drone on and on.

Fast Company has pulled together a helpful guide that identifies the “proven ideal length of every Tweet, Facebook post and headline.” A few nuggets:

Such economy of words.

It makes one relish the sentiment variously attributed to Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Voltaire, Blaise Pascal, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Winston Churchill, Pliny the Younger, Cato, Cicero, Bill Clinton, and Benjamin Franklin.

Forgive the length of this letter, but I did not have time to make it shorter.