Friday, March 13, 2009


The essay "Keep your identity small" by Paul Graham makes many poignant points.
I think what religion and politics have in common is that they become part of people's identity, and people can never have a fruitful argument about something that's part of their identity. By definition they're partisan............

.........The most intriguing thing about this theory, if it's right, is that it explains not merely which kinds of discussions to avoid, but how to have better ideas. If people can't think clearly about anything that has become part of their identity, then all other things being equal, the best plan is to let as few things into your identity as possible......

......A scientist isn't committed to believing in natural selection in the same way a bibilical literalist is committed to rejecting it. All he's committed to is following the evidence wherever it leads.
I do agree that the identity can cause a partisan bias. Therefore, the foremost trait to infuse your identity with, would be a strong streak of self-awareness and self-criticism. This will automatically lead to pruning of the useless edges that start taking roots in one's identity from time to time. I also like the way he proposes this theory but claims no authority over its veracity.

His other essays are also enjoyable and thought-provoking and my first contact with his writing came through the essay: "Lies we tell our kids".

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