On Burnout, Values and Uncertainty

I got some good feedback and came across more writing related to my recents posts about burnout, things worse than death, and uncertainty.

  1. I hope the “great resignation” turns into a cross cultural discussion of burnout and values within the tech industry. I’m seeing me posts like I just don’t want to be busy anymore. I also just finished Oliver Burkman’s Four Thousand Weeks, which I highly recommend. TLDR: the only productivity hack we actually have is simply doing less.
  2. Not easily summarized, the Cult of Life is about the disbalance of society when life becomes an end in and of itself.
  3. Bruno Latour is a philosopher of science, whom I’d strangely never heard of. To quote Wikipedia:

    In the laboratory, Latour and Woolgar observed that a typical experiment produces only inconclusive data that is attributed to failure of the apparatus or experimental method, and that a large part of scientific training involves learning how to make the subjective decision of what data to keep and what data to throw out. Latour and Woolgar argued that, for untrained observers, the entire process resembles not an unbiased search for truth and accuracy but a mechanism for ignoring data that contradicts scientific orthodoxy.

  4. The problem isn’t uncertainty itself, rather the issue is how to communicate varying levels of certainty. Seth Godin has a simple idea: use fuzzy type when you’re unsure.

To make Godin’s idea more concrete:

Part of the current public health crisis has been the binary messaging. Things that are tentative, not true and outright absurd are labelled just as much the Science as things that are solidly true.

That mass vaccination is the best way to prevent serious illness and unnecessary deaths (almost certainly true with a few minor caveats) is proclaimed with equal ceremony as the need for two year olds to wear cloth masks (almost completely debunked) shows how muddled public health messaging is.

By screaming both with equal vigor, public health authorities have cast serious doubt on the first statement. There’s only so many times you can cry wolf.

The deeper I dig into philosophy and the classics, the more obvious it becomes that very little of our current societal woes are new. It use to be that graduating with a liberal arts degree meant you were well-read enough to know this and articulate enough to discuss the echos of the past in the present. That’s simply not the case anymore.