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Why thank you.

You're correct. I did think that the Muslim story was the truth. There were times when I was forced to face a mismatch between my beliefs and reality (evolution is an obvious one), but as you can imagine, I was a pro at rationalising things away. And when rationalisations didn't suffice, I simply put it down to my ignorance and didn't bother pursuing it. And to consolidate all my irrational behaviour, I had enormous social proof that this was the right thing to do.

I should have made it clear that I had no respect whatsoever for 'evidence'. I laugh thinking about it now, but I would openly use/deny evidence whenever it was convenient for me. I would interpret and reinterpret the Quran so that it made sense to me. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

"I’ve found that’s all you have to do to get ahead in life, be non-idiotic and live a long time. It’s harder to be non-idiotic than most people think." - Charlie Munger

I appreciate the opportunity, but I am very much a private person. Looks like an interesting website, I'll be checking it out.

I certainly had a huge emotional problem with being wrong. Three years ago when I was a Muslim, I had a considerably stronger attachment to my beliefs than to reality and truth. As far as I was concerned, my beliefs were the truth (haha) and I could never have distinguished between the two. In fact, everyone I knew was exactly the same, if not worse.

What helped me was having role models that showed me a completely different way of life (many hats off to Dawkins, Pinker, Buffett, Munger, Krauss, et al). I watched them for hours and hours in countless interviews, debates and discussions. Of course, youtube videos didn't make me feel judged, and I think that was important for me at that time. They all fascinated me, and as I observed them, I began modelling some of their thought processes and philosophies. Eventually, I felt an emotional attachment towards reality and felt smug whenever I could openly admit that I was wrong. Now, I would feel like an emotionally-fragile dumbass if I couldn't admit to being wrong and subsequently change my mind.

Ladies and gentlemen, I didn't know it would be so great on this side.

Hah, what a no-brainer error. I'm going to add that to my list.

I would drown if I included specific mistakes. I only note down the errors in an overly general way (e.g. I would have a subheading called "decision making" and under that I would have: - failing to make important decisions promptly - making decisions without taking loved ones into account - having high expectations of myself and others; etc). My mistakes (for the vast majority of the time) are recurring, so that chops off a whole bunch.

Three days ago, I created a "Temple of Errors" (borrowed from stock investor Chris Davis' Temple of Shame: a temple for things that made him lose money).

In a feat of laziness and mundanity, instead of an actual mini-temple, this became the title of a word document where I journal all my mistakes. I should be keeping my mouth shut since it's only been three days, but I'm excited. I created this document with the intention to strive to make new mistakes and avoid old ones (an idea stolen from Charlie Munger). So far, I've found this process to be incredible for personal growth. Instead of trying to figure out what I need to do and executing it, I simply avoid my old mistakes, which leads me to new territory and thus progress.

An unexpected by-product of this document: I've found that after I make a mistake, I look forward to putting it into my journal (this could be because it's simply a new idea, so time will tell. Or it could be because I'm 'collecting' my mistakes). Instead of feeling an initial sting of crappiness, I now enjoy analysing my mistakes for a few minutes before I note it down and carry on with my life. Also, when I read over the document in the morning, I automatically look at my errors in a constructive way.

I plan to go through my "Temple of Errors" at the start of every day. I make this easier by ensuring that it's the only open document on my laptop when I switch it on.

Thanks for the recommendation. I've seen Bevelin's book come up many times during my Munger-searches, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I'm sure I'll more than enjoy it.

There's no question that the convincing was gradual. Deep inside, I sensed something was wrong with Islam and god, but obviously I didn't even try to investigate this. If I encountered something that didn't make sense, I magically rationalised it away (which was very often). Funnily enough, before this discussion with my friend, I always considered myself an open-minded Muslim (I snort at this now, because it was a mere delusion), but when my friend brought reason to the table, I naturally became defensive. This defensiveness slowly, but surely, turned into silence. He made far too much sense, time and time again. The dawn of realisation that god didn't exist, however, was sudden. And it makes me smile thinking back to that moment :)

I was raised as a religious Muslim and was in the same Saudi private school from year 1 until college. Now, if you're planning to put your child in one of the most irrational hubs of life, my school was the place. Arrogance and emotional arguments were glorified. As you can imagine, I was a machine of irrationality. I had no concept of 'evidence', I only engaged in emotional arguments, and I was riddled with all sorts of biases. I was a big fool and a gigantic mess.

Then I met a friend in my second year of university who was once a Christian and became an Atheist thanks to Richard Dawkins. We spent a few months discussing religion, where I tried to outright deny, dodge and duck evidence, and do everything else that a massive idiot like myself would do. After these few months, I found myself cornered by my friend's arguments and then a wild, blasphemous thought occurred to me: There actually is no god.

Thanks to my dear friend, I never looked back. Through Dawkins I discovered Steven Pinker, Neil degrasse Tyson and Sam Harris. And through them all, I discovered a whole new world of science and reason. As someone who always identified myself as a 'smart' person, and who loved feeling smarter than the masses (self-esteem issues, I'm sure), I embraced this new world. But this process led to incremental change.

The real second big leap happened after I graduated from university. I took a year off to learn how to manage my finances and invest in the stock market and lo and behold, I stumbled across my heroes, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. They truly changed my life. They were radically different to everything I grew up with. They were rationality machines, and they introduced me to a little something called 'humility', which I needed very much. Thanks to them, I am learning, growing and becoming more rational every day.

I finished reading the "Commitment and Consistency" chapter in Cialdini's book 'Influence'. For the past 2+ weeks I have attempted to stay aware of this bias in everyday life.

What I have observed:

  • I caught myself and others being automatically (and irrationality) committed to ideas (far too many times)
  • Some of personal beliefs exist simply because I committed to them when I was younger and significantly more idiotic
  • People are significantly more committed to goals when they publicly announced them
  • People say mind-blowingly irrational statements for the sake of consistency

Consequences of my observations:

  • I have stopped myself many times from automatically blurting out ideas I was committed to
  • I have had the chance to re-examine a few of my personal beliefs and update them accordingly
  • I have gotten people to do things for me/keep their promises by making them announce it or write it down.
  • I have gotten even closer to my cat because I publicly declared him as part of my family :)

Updates in my reality:

  • Human operate in a much more robotic way than I previously thought so (I only understood this theoretically, now I've observed it in real life)
  • Humans are controlled by this invisible program of commitment and consistency, and I'm sure I've only observed the top of the iceberg with regards to this bias. I'm seeing new things almost everyday.

What worked well:

  • Attempting something that I was genuinely interested in
  • Letting my momentum organically build up from my interest in the activity/subject and all my previous successful observations

What didn't work:

  • Setting micro-goals (I tried to set myself a micro-goal of observing this bias 10 times during the day, and I failed)
  • Setting expectations for myself (even low expectations seemed to hinder my progress)
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