My latest Quora posting: Is there an afterlife?
My two most popular Quora postings: In a fine dining restaurant, what is a polite way to tell the sommelier the price range for the wine you're considering?
and How do people judge whether others are intelligent or not?
Ironically, my answer to the second question explains why I rarely get more than a scattering of up-votes. I only post when I have something surprising to offer, whereas the posts that get wildly popular tend to stroke people's preexisting biases and assumptions. Few of us are looking for surprising insights with the power to change our perspective. If people relished having their minds changed, the human condition would be very different.
I love surprise, myself. I love having my perspective shifted and my mind changed, so I've developed my capacity to surprise others. But I find myself endlessly relearning that most people are not wired to enjoy that sort of thing.
As a jazz musician, I understand that if I string together cliches, audiences will have a more soothing experience, because their unconscious predictions of how phrases will resolve turn out correct. It feels, to them, like a "win". Some musicians respond to this pressure by defiantly dashing all expectations (see Thelonious Monk), but I try to be a good storyteller, sensitively balancing familiarity and surprise. If only more people noticed...
More on consistency and predictability here.
- Rant v1.1
- Passionate Rant Against Nationalism
- Transformed Attitude Toward Travel
- Finding Empathy for Trump's Enduring Support
- Obsession or Creativity
- Leftovers Soup
- Is there an afterlife?
- Mama Grimaldi: Part 3
- Unnecessary Wondrousness
- So, So Leaky
- Hate the Flip-Flopper, Love the Flip-Flop
- WaPo's Daily 202 (Yet Again)
- Mama Grimaldi: Part 2
- Mama Grimaldi: Part 1
- Water + Time = Satisfaction
- Roman Pizza in Catalan Village
- Why God [see disclaimer] Lets Bad Things Happen
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