8 Things to Read in 2011

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This week last year, I read The 5000 Year Leap.  Good book.  If you haven’t read it, do so. You might learn some interesting things. 

But don’t expect The 5000 Year Leap to change you.  Or history. It won’t. 

Now, if 70 percent of the US population read it, it might make a difference.  Or maybe not. I tend to doubt it, but that’s fodder for a different post.

When tea partiers read books like Glenn Beck’s Common Sense or The 5000 Year Leap, we’re not broadening ourselves—we’re narrowing ourselves. We’re also committing Confirmation Bias: the tendency to search for information that confirms our existing beliefs while ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

In a study, psychologists were exposed to a short set of symptoms and asked to give a preliminary diagnosis.  Then, they were shown another set of symptoms for the same patients and asked to re-evaluate.  All of the psychologists stuck with their original diagnoses—only they increased their certainty of that original diagnosis. 

In other words, they believed that the additional information confirmed their original diagnoses.

The problems:

1.  The original list of symptoms were far too vague for a psychologist to confidently diagnose.

2. The second list contained information intended to contradict the original diagnosis in many cases.

Still, the trained, licensed PhDs saw in the second diagnoses only the information that confirmed their original guesses. 

When conservatives know only the information that supports their view, they tend to look like idiots when confronted with information beyond that narrow scope.  (Trust me—I’ve been the idiot.)

To avoid that embarrassing and destructive situation, learn outside of US political history.  In fact, you probably could go on a US political history diet for one year and still know more about the subject than any 100 liberals combined. 

In 2011, read some things beyond Glenn Beck’s reading list.  Here’s eight ideas to get you started:

The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content.

Outliers: The Story of Success

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life

The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

While some of these books might touch on politics in places, they will introduce many to new ideas that are changing the world around us. 

The intention here is to broaden and build the movement, begin with ourselves.  If the idea of reading outside your comfort zone scares you, then you need to start today. 



18 thoughts on “
8 Things to Read in 2011

  1. (BTW, one of the reasons I read your posts (and I read them far more than I comment on them), is you continually get me to re-examine assumptions and things I’ve begun to see as settled. Absolutely invaluable.)

    • Thanks. One of the reasons the tea party movement has continue to broaden and build its base is because of people like you: people with enormous understanding of the core truths who continue to learn and are willing to share and advance the cause and the knowledge.

  2. (BTW, one of the reasons I read your posts (and I read them far more than I comment on them), is you continually get me to re-examine assumptions and things I’ve begun to see as settled. Absolutely invaluable.)

    • Thanks. One of the reasons the tea party movement has continue to broaden and build its base is because of people like you: people with enormous understanding of the core truths who continue to learn and are willing to share and advance the cause and the knowledge.

  3. “When tea partiers read books like Glenn Beck’s Common Sense or The 5000 Year Leap, we’re not broadening ourselves—we’re narrowing ourselves”

    Well, while that may be true, I think it is only a portion of the full truth, and if only taken part way, might be left false. True, if you read the material, and reread the same subject over and over again, and stay only on the surface of narrative facts, names and dates… that is fencing yourself in to a position in the fixed past, which is staking ground on a lost land. But if you are reading and reading the materials over the same subjects, but think deeper upon them, make yourself discover new perspectives through them, extend and deepen your understanding of the principles and truths involved – that is no lost effort, and you are not staked to a static land of the past, but more able to deal with the present than those steeped in all the varieties of current events there may be. Those modern marvels in fact, will themselves be usefully meaningless and illusory, if they are all, or most, of what you know.

    I think it also depends upon whether or not you know even a tenth of the information a citizen of this nation should, must, know… or not. If you received a public education, didn’t question it and never got around to looking into matters you were taught for yourself… you probably don’t know a tenth of what is very much critical information for you to know, in this land, at this time.

    What I like about the 5,000 year leap, and why I’m hoping to lead a class myself in Feb, is that it presents the essential ideas our nation was founded upon and the reasons for them, which, in the classes I’ve attended or led, very few people have been aware of them – and they should be.

    However, yes you’re right, once they’ve got some foundation, then, yes, piling on more of the same may be less useful than broadening out in new areas, and opposing areas. Especially subjects that you wouldn’t normally come into contact with – it’s amazing what issues in technology, psychology, philosophy, even sports, cooking and journalism can draw out and connect you to. I can’t tell you how many connections, integrations and perspectives I found between object oriented programming, philosophy, psychology and salesmanship, and better understood each because of the other.

    That’s learning, and if you ever forget to continue doing it, extending yourself, deliberately trying to understand the points of view you disagree with… you stake yourself to ground that the present is quickly leaving behind.

    • Thanks, Van. Your point is well taken here. I was probably too light with my treatment of expectations. In other words, I expect that most of our tea party loyalists are well educated on the basic things: the Declaration and Constitution and their philosophical roots, general Western histories like A Patriot’s History of the United States
      or The 5000-Year Leap, and critical essays like Common Sense. (That’s not intended to be an exhaustive list, but an illustrative one.)

      I would encourage everyone who has not read such books or taken part in such courses to do so, especially in the off-off year of 2011. (If there’s room available in your January class, please let us know.)

      I do, though, want to make sure we don’t get insular or narrow. And I do see signs of that. But even more importantly, I want everyone to be an effective evangelist for liberty. And that requires more than just knowing the basics cold. It means being able to inspire outsiders, fence straddlers, and open-minded skeptics.

      If I quote Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Glenn Beck in asserting the rightness of our positions, those unconvinced folks will remain largely unconvinced.

      But if I can talk to a psychologist about the psychological/biological need to pursue happiness, or to the business person about the dangers of Black Swans, or to the connected marketer about Seth Godin’s unwitting endorsement of small government, then I can pull in people who might be your future class for The 5000-Year Leap. Otherwise, they’ll vote against us in 2012. (And we can’t have that.)

      P.S. I know of no one in the area more qualified or capable of leading a course on the basics of the American system than Van. Don’t miss your chance to learn with him.

      • “If I quote Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Glenn Beck in asserting the rightness of our positions, those unconvinced folks will remain largely unconvinced.

        But if I can talk to a psychologist about the psychological/biological need to pursue happiness, or to the business person about the dangers of Black Swans, or to the connected marketer about Seth Godin’s unwitting endorsement of small government, then I can pull in people who might be your future class for The 5000-Year Leap. Otherwise, they’ll vote against us in 2012. (And we can’t have that.)”

        Yep, fully agree. It’s not enough to know the facts and quotes of 200 yrs ago as facts and quotes, we’ve got to understand their meaning and how they apply to our lives here and now today (what worth can they have otherwise?), and that means tying them in with whats common to and important in our everyday lives and then helping our family and friends to see how their lives and interests rely on these truths to, probably in ways they hadn’t imagined – and that means we need to become familiar with those ideas and interests we might not normally be aware of.

        (And thanks for your kind words Bill, I’m honored)

  4. “When tea partiers read books like Glenn Beck’s Common Sense or The 5000 Year Leap, we’re not broadening ourselves—we’re narrowing ourselves”

    Well, while that may be true, I think it is only a portion of the full truth, and if only taken part way, might be left false. True, if you read the material, and reread the same subject over and over again, and stay only on the surface of narrative facts, names and dates… that is fencing yourself in to a position in the fixed past, which is staking ground on a lost land. But if you are reading and reading the materials over the same subjects, but think deeper upon them, make yourself discover new perspectives through them, extend and deepen your understanding of the principles and truths involved – that is no lost effort, and you are not staked to a static land of the past, but more able to deal with the present than those steeped in all the varieties of current events there may be. Those modern marvels in fact, will themselves be usefully meaningless and illusory, if they are all, or most, of what you know.

    I think it also depends upon whether or not you know even a tenth of the information a citizen of this nation should, must, know… or not. If you received a public education, didn’t question it and never got around to looking into matters you were taught for yourself… you probably don’t know a tenth of what is very much critical information for you to know, in this land, at this time.

    What I like about the 5,000 year leap, and why I’m hoping to lead a class myself in Feb, is that it presents the essential ideas our nation was founded upon and the reasons for them, which, in the classes I’ve attended or led, very few people have been aware of them – and they should be.

    However, yes you’re right, once they’ve got some foundation, then, yes, piling on more of the same may be less useful than broadening out in new areas, and opposing areas. Especially subjects that you wouldn’t normally come into contact with – it’s amazing what issues in technology, psychology, philosophy, even sports, cooking and journalism can draw out and connect you to. I can’t tell you how many connections, integrations and perspectives I found between object oriented programming, philosophy, psychology and salesmanship, and better understood each because of the other.

    That’s learning, and if you ever forget to continue doing it, extending yourself, deliberately trying to understand the points of view you disagree with… you stake yourself to ground that the present is quickly leaving behind.

    • Thanks, Van. Your point is well taken here. I was probably too light with my treatment of expectations. In other words, I expect that most of our tea party loyalists are well educated on the basic things: the Declaration and Constitution and their philosophical roots, general Western histories like A Patriot’s History of the United States
      or The 5000-Year Leap, and critical essays like Common Sense. (That’s not intended to be an exhaustive list, but an illustrative one.)

      I would encourage everyone who has not read such books or taken part in such courses to do so, especially in the off-off year of 2011. (If there’s room available in your January class, please let us know.)

      I do, though, want to make sure we don’t get insular or narrow. And I do see signs of that. But even more importantly, I want everyone to be an effective evangelist for liberty. And that requires more than just knowing the basics cold. It means being able to inspire outsiders, fence straddlers, and open-minded skeptics.

      If I quote Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Glenn Beck in asserting the rightness of our positions, those unconvinced folks will remain largely unconvinced.

      But if I can talk to a psychologist about the psychological/biological need to pursue happiness, or to the business person about the dangers of Black Swans, or to the connected marketer about Seth Godin’s unwitting endorsement of small government, then I can pull in people who might be your future class for The 5000-Year Leap. Otherwise, they’ll vote against us in 2012. (And we can’t have that.)

      P.S. I know of no one in the area more qualified or capable of leading a course on the basics of the American system than Van. Don’t miss your chance to learn with him.

      • “If I quote Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Glenn Beck in asserting the rightness of our positions, those unconvinced folks will remain largely unconvinced.

        But if I can talk to a psychologist about the psychological/biological need to pursue happiness, or to the business person about the dangers of Black Swans, or to the connected marketer about Seth Godin’s unwitting endorsement of small government, then I can pull in people who might be your future class for The 5000-Year Leap. Otherwise, they’ll vote against us in 2012. (And we can’t have that.)”

        Yep, fully agree. It’s not enough to know the facts and quotes of 200 yrs ago as facts and quotes, we’ve got to understand their meaning and how they apply to our lives here and now today (what worth can they have otherwise?), and that means tying them in with whats common to and important in our everyday lives and then helping our family and friends to see how their lives and interests rely on these truths to, probably in ways they hadn’t imagined – and that means we need to become familiar with those ideas and interests we might not normally be aware of.

        (And thanks for your kind words Bill, I’m honored)

  5. Thank you for the inspiration. I realized recently that I turn off radio talk shows when I don’t agree with the opinions of the host or the callers. I realized how narrow minded I am to not even listen to someone’s opinion if I don’t agree. I am very disappointed in myself. In 2011 my New Year’s Resolution is to listen and learn.

    • Thanks, Mickey.

      A few years ago, I worked for a software company. We employed a lot of engineers. In about 2000, we started hiring a lot of engineers from Russia.

      Many of us found these Russians fascinating. The reason: even though they were trained engineers, engineers was not “who they are.”

      They were poets, writers, musicians, and dancers. They acted and painted. Yet they were masterful engineers, too. In fact, the diversity of their interested and talents seemed to feed their engineering skills.

      Some of our North American engineers and programmers held broad interests, too, but not all. And none of our interests were as diverse as the narrowest of the Russians. At least, we were less open about our other interests. We tended to talk about nothing but work.

      The Russians’ breadth of knowledge and interests served them two ways:

      First, it made them more interesting to us.

      Second, it gave them many more tools to apply to their work.

      Our tea party work remains the same, and we should remain focused. But the tools we employ — and the interests we offer to the world — should grow large enough to blanket the country.

  6. Thank you for the inspiration. I realized recently that I turn off radio talk shows when I don’t agree with the opinions of the host or the callers. I realized how narrow minded I am to not even listen to someone’s opinion if I don’t agree. I am very disappointed in myself. In 2011 my New Year’s Resolution is to listen and learn.

    • Thanks, Mickey.

      A few years ago, I worked for a software company. We employed a lot of engineers. In about 2000, we started hiring a lot of engineers from Russia.

      Many of us found these Russians fascinating. The reason: even though they were trained engineers, engineers was not “who they are.”

      They were poets, writers, musicians, and dancers. They acted and painted. Yet they were masterful engineers, too. In fact, the diversity of their interested and talents seemed to feed their engineering skills.

      Some of our North American engineers and programmers held broad interests, too, but not all. And none of our interests were as diverse as the narrowest of the Russians. At least, we were less open about our other interests. We tended to talk about nothing but work.

      The Russians’ breadth of knowledge and interests served them two ways:

      First, it made them more interesting to us.

      Second, it gave them many more tools to apply to their work.

      Our tea party work remains the same, and we should remain focused. But the tools we employ — and the interests we offer to the world — should grow large enough to blanket the country.

  7. I would like to add a book to this list: Culture of Death by Wesley J. Smith. Definitely out of my comfort zone, definitely scared me, but important information to know all the same.

  8. I would like to add a book to this list: Culture of Death by Wesley J. Smith. Definitely out of my comfort zone, definitely scared me, but important information to know all the same.

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