The Hardest Thing in the World

No, it’s not my penis. (That’s the second-hardest.)

It’s insight, often called intuition, and we argue about it all the time.

FACTS, you see, are almost never called into question. Take the mean surface temperature of Earth. Just about everyone agrees it’s going up. The question is why. Is that a manifestation of anthropogenic climate change, or is it something else?

Psychological biases, social trends, and deep history all act themselves out moment-by-moment. Evolution is never in a line of dialog. Rather, it’s in the whole play. In the world, it manifests in the quanta of a single individual, a member of a species, and if all you see are the collected actions of individuals, you’ll never see evolution.

But it’s happening all around you, even as you read these words.

This is lack of insight, and it is almost impossible to overcome.

Partly this is because it’s almost impossible to prove a lack of anything. For the intransigent, the explanation is always hidden under the next rock, and so you have to turn every rock in the universe–which is impossible–to prove them wrong.

But it’s also because it seems simpler to believe a ready-to-hand cause. Are we not being parsimonious if we satisfy ourselves with the patent explanation rather than appealing to occult forces and hidden trends?

The hardest thing in the world is recognizing that any of your behavior is anything but an expression of how you feel at that moment. It seems more sensical to believe that you’re just responding authentically to the world around you rather than that YOU’RE JUST AN ASSHOLE.

Don’t be an asshole.

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