Making Sense of the World

Oct 8, 2019

If you regularly hear my voice on Hidden Brain, you probably have a mental picture of me – what I look like, maybe aspects of my personality. Have you wondered how your mind generated these pictures? Why it generated them? Humans are driven to “make sense” of the world. When you are shown half a picture of something, you tend to invent the other half. We’re hoping to explore this idea in different ways on the podcast in the weeks/months to come. If you have thoughts about this – or stories that you think might be relevant for the show — just hit reply to this email.

Podcast Updates

Check out our latest episode, Screaming Into The Void. It doesn’t feature a lot of screaming (at least from me!) but it does try to understand why many of us feel surrounded by vitriol on cable TV, on social media and at family reunions. This is an episode that evolved through multiple conversations on the Hidden Brain team, as we sought to understand something that has pervasive effects on our minds. How did so many of us come to believe that the best way to disagree was by being disagreeable?

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Off Book

A Hidden Brain newsletter subscriber sent in this wonderful excerpt from Matt Haig’s novel, How To Stop Time.

Forever, Emily Dickinson said, is composed of nows. But how do you inhabit the now you are in? How do you stop the ghosts of all the other nows from getting in? How, in short, do you live?

The questions echo William Faulkner’s famous line, “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Philosophers and religions have thought deeply about these questions. I’ll add to Haig – the challenge is not just in keeping the “nows” from the past from entering the present, but the “nows” from the future, too.

If you have found ways to keep the past and future from affecting how you experience the present, tell me about it. And if you have other interesting excerpts from books or poems to share with the Hidden Brain newsletter community, please hit reply to this email. (If you want me to identify you as the source, let me know. I’m in two minds about identifying people or protecting their privacy — share your thoughts about this when you write.)

Lab Notes

I recently came by a very interesting visualization tracking where (and with whom) America’s 26 year-olds have lived in different eras. Some people will be surprised by this data. Baby boomer parents, not so much.

See you soon. Please forward this newsletter to your friends if you think they might like to subscribe.