Home > People > Epiphanies Volume 4 – Lessons Learned in 2008

Epiphanies Volume 4 – Lessons Learned in 2008


Whenever you lose, whatever you lose, however you lose, never lose the lesson.”

Xenocrates

What have I learned?For me, the year of 2008 was filled with great learning experiences. Personally, I think I gained several more points than usual in my cognitive development than I normally would – perhaps the greatest since 2003 when I had my last great evolutionary leap in cognition. This post lists the top 100 of the most important things that I have learned this year. For ease of reading, I have sub-divided these equally into five distinct categories each written as tersely elegant aphorisms in bullet form notation. Depending on your life experience, some of these you will have already known. Others, you may not. Some may seem familiar to you as great minds ultimately come to the same conclusion. Either way, irrespective of our individuality, I believe at least some of these aphorisms will be as much an eye opener for you as they were for me. As far as I know, all of these epiphanies are my own original thoughts. Enjoy:

About Friendship

FriendshipThe most important lessons I’ve learned this year were about friendships. I am fascinated by the fact that most friendships are sustained by an incomparably flimsy bond that (as strange as it sounds) has a substantially greater degree of structural integrity than most romantic relationships. This is the reason why I firmly believe that friendship preempts romance as will be obvious in a bit. Irrespective of the outcome of all my interpersonal relations, in the best or worst of times, I’ve always ensured that there is focus on the lessons learned from each case. Many of these I learned from personal experience. Most of them I learned from observing others, like these profound gems:

  1. Friendship is inextricably symbiotic.
  2. Smarter people are often more lonely than common people.
  3. Nothing ruins a perfectly good friendship like sex and money.
  4. People who have many friends have few personal convictions.
  5. Never keep more friends than you have the capacity to forgive.
  6. It is better to be loved by friends than to be respected by enemies.
  7. People who hate themselves cannot appreciate the value of friendship.
  8. Arguments are about finding common ground, not proving who’s right.
  9. The more you know about your friends, the less you are likely to like them.
  10. Never debate religion or politics with your friends unless they already agree.
  11. Never do business with friends – but you can always make friends in business.
  12. Don’t make friends of people who are easily liked – they are easily manipulated.
  13. The ability to ignore the flaws in others exponentially increases one’s likability.
  14. Maintaining friendships requires making your selfishness less obvious to others.
  15. Having too many friends is the easiest way to overlook the most important ones.
  16. When arguing with friends, it is better to agree to disagree than to disagree to agree.
  17. Open, forgiving hearts suffer more disappointment, but win significantly more love.
  18. It is easier to claim an enemy as a friend than to recover a friend who has become an enemy.
  19. A little naivete is great for forming long lasting friendships – even if it exposes one to exploitation.
  20. Friendship is not determined by the highest common interests as much as it is by the lowest common factors.

About Romance

RomanceI have discovered that the most popular themes for readers of my blog are not as much the philosophical, religious, social or political entries as those about the human condition. I find that people are so much more fascinated about themselves than they are about their world. Part of the reason for this is that human interest concepts are more accessible to the general reading public than highly complex abstract ideas. Another is that there is an emotional component which essentially defines elements of our existence, none of which are as fascinating as love and romance:

  1. Treat every platonic friendship with the opposite sex with the same amount of care as a romantic relationship.
  2. Always give your feelings time to pass before you decide to express them – whether they be good or bad.
  3. Never communicate with your lover when you’re angry – no matter how calm you think you are.
  4. Wives who are useless in the kitchen are like husbands who are useless in the garage.
  5. Never end a romantic relationship without demonstrating your capacity to forgive.
  6. Concern about money reduces a romantic relationship to a business arrangement.
  7. Odd couples are created more out of convenience than out of genuine attraction.
  8. When in love, never underestimate the necessity of stating the obvious.
  9. Arguments with a lover are not about who’s right – it’s about who cares.
  10. Whomever you romantically love should also be your very best friend.
  11. Only say the good about your former flame, but never forget the bad.
  12. Explaining the science of love destroys the magic of romance.
  13. Even if you loose the romance, never loose the friendship.
  14. Repetition is the most effective demonstration of love.
  15. In romance, credibility is more useful than honesty.
  16. Spontaneity is not as valuable as dependability.
  17. Impatience transforms love into infatuation.
  18. Always be prepared to be unforgiven.
  19. Love is sweeter when trust is implicit.
  20. Never say never. Ever.

About Ideology

ReligionI have had quite a few heated debates in the past year on this blog about hot button topics like atheism and the validity of faith. All of those debates have certainly refined my view of the world, but not as much as they have refined my view of people’s motivation. The one key thing that I have learned this year is that people are not driven to believe because something makes sense as I had once so naively thought. The truth is that people’s beliefs are driven more by personal motivation than anything else. Against such, there is no argument, as are the following:

  1. God is a theory – not a conclusion.
  2. Example is better than indoctrination.
  3. God doesn’t “care” – and neither should we.
  4. Fear is the single most powerful motivation of belief.
  5. It is not necessary to find validation of your ideology with others.
  6. It is an utter waste of humanity to live a completely righteous life.
  7. Most times the accuracy of a belief is less important than its pragmatism.
  8. Faith is the ultimate source of deception – irrespective of what it is placed in.
  9. The truth is not what you can prove. The truth is what you choose to believe.
  10. All religion attempts to fallaciously humanize an unknowable force of nature.
  11. The passage of ages obscures the line between empirical fact and religious myth.
  12. Religion doesn’t make people better at who they are – it just makes them religious.
  13. Never debate religious apologetics with those who have already made up their mind.
  14. Religious taboos are largely driven by ignorance, fear, uncertainty, doubt and disbelief.
  15. Never inhibit the right of someone to believe in nonsense – especially if it brings them happiness.
  16. Most people simply aren’t intelligent enough to differentiate between religion and righteousness.
  17. Religious or political debate is only enjoyed by people who relish their own opinion over anyone else’s.
  18. Religion is science without the scientific method and science is religion without the baseless speculation.
  19. People believe in religion for all the same reasons they believe in urban legends and conspiracy theories.
  20. Most people don’t realise that having faith automatically means accepting the probability of being wrong.

About Scientific Knowledge

String TheoryEven though I’m in a completely different field, I am a scientist at heart – a hard cold logical thinker. I read very widely in the field of science and technology and have discovered that many of the things that are being proven now by contemporary science are conclusions that I have long since theorised as a teenager. It is no less interesting to me to discover the profound nature of some of these scientific discoveries, the following of which, I consider to be my most profound personal discoveries this year:

  1. History shows that cognitive evolution enables people to discover more efficient ways to be exactly the same.
  2. Every permutation of the human condition from the very best to the very worst exists in our genetic code.
  3. The capacity for certain levels of musical appreciation is directly related to the complexity of the brain.
  4. People are a temporary effect of the universe that occupy only an insignificant fraction of it’s life span.
  5. The improbability of the existence of complex life (as is on earth) is also proof of its probability.
  6. Nobody will care about things like string theory or rocket science until it starts to change lives.
  7. DNA is a binary program with a virtually unlimited number of possible manifestations of life.
  8. One day, either humans will evolve into computers, or computers will evolve into humans.
  9. With the exception of mathematics, all other proof is based on subjective interpretation.
  10. Humanity always appears to change for the better when on the brink of self extinction.
  11. Quantum theory insinuates that whatever is fiction in this universe, is fact in another.
  12. Astronomical science has proven that humanity grossly overvalues its existence.
  13. The complexity of language is directly proportional to the complexity of culture.
  14. The number of distinct races on earth is only limited by the size of the earth.
  15. Humans are biological machines, not unlike their mechanical counterparts.
  16. Modern civilization has made much of our genetic code obsolete.
  17. The more we think we know, the less we realised we knew at all.
  18. All civilizations (including existing ones) will eventually die.
  19. We are compelled to do whatever our genes impel us to.
  20. Life can exist in any environment.

General Observations

ContemplationSometimes I like to step back and contemplate ideas in their purest state – completely extrapolated from their original context. I like to meditate on concepts to mine them for philosophical purity – to examine the proof of concept and to determine if there are more efficient ways in which these ideas can be expressed. Most of the time I realise that these ideas exist to do nothing more than to the mask the flimsiness of our basic instinct – the animalistic propensities which define the inherent fallibility of the human condition. These aphorisms were the most outstanding conclusions that I have derived from pure observation:

  1. Sophistication does not change motivation.
  2. Unattractive people have more natural enemies.
  3. Only make mistakes from which you can easily recover.
  4. Those who are easily impressed are easily disappointed.
  5. War is proof of the utter paradoxical simplicity of mankind.
  6. The simplest things are inexplicably the most important things.
  7. The fear of success is quantitatively greater than the fear of failure.
  8. To most people, the packaging is more important than the contents.
  9. The rationality of an explanation does not guarantee its acceptance.
  10. Being right about something doesn’t mean that anybody should care.
  11. Beauty may be skin deep, but ‘pretty‘ is still a very compelling argument.
  12. To average people, the speaker is always more important than the message.
  13. It is unreasonable to expect everyone to want the same level of success in life.
  14. People often absurdly regard the popularity of an idea as proof of its validation.
  15. The truth does not really set you free. Freedom from guilt is enslavement to fear.
  16. Unless you already know your audience, always cater to the lowest common intelligence.
  17. The perception of the ability to see the world more clearly than others is only a perception.
  18. Cynicism is unattractive to anyone – irrespective of how cleverly or profoundly it is articulated.
  19. People often absurdly regard the confidence of an individual as validation of what they’re saying.
  20. But most importantly, whenever you lose, whatever you lose, however you lose, never lose the lesson.

For all of you who have shared with me this year, whether directly or indirectly, I thank you for your invaluable input. Your very existence validates mine. I am grateful to all of you for enriching this learning experience. I wish you all the very best during this season and the coming year. Until 2009,

Ciao mon ami.

Xenocrates

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  1. razzybrite
    January 10, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    A fitting summary for the previous year -2008. Looking forward to some more good articles from you in this new year -2009. You have really highlighted many food for thought. Keep up the good work!!!!

  2. January 6, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks! 😉

  3. DST- 1997
    January 6, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    I truly enjoy reading your blogs… I just stubbled on this site and it is very interesting!!! Keep up the great work!

  4. January 1, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Thank you for your comments Dave!

    Happy New Year first of all. 😉 Now let’s get into the meat of the matter:

    The thing is that, most of your general arguments on love and humanity stuff is very western, and scarcely apply to how people operate in the east…

    That is true. However, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t anticipate much relativity from far eastern readers. The response is largely directed at western civilisations.

    I watched a movie recently and the underlying theme (even though I didnt really enjoy the movie) was “Humanity always appears to change for the better when on the brink of self extinction.”

    The really disappointing remake of the 1951 cult classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still” starring Keanu Reeves featured this commentary I noticed. I suspect that’s the film you’re referring to. However, that thought predates the film. It was in reference to the observation of the cognitive evolution of human civilisations over time. With every great civilisation that comes upon the earth, humanity approaches the brink of self annihilation.

    However, whether it is savagery, human rights violation, atomic weaponry or environmental destruction, somehow, human conscience always seems to win out and we break away from that imminently self destructive tangent. Humans are the only animals that have the capacity to become out of touch with the natural environment.

    …No matter what we discover or think or how wealthy we become, We are all just very basic creatures…

    I also realise that we are so basic that it is likely that we are not functionally different from animals. We too are animals. The only reason why humans think they are so important is simply because we haven’t substantially validated the existence of beings far superior to us. This is the root cause of our arrogance.

    …how can we “Only make mistakes from which you can easily recover.” when we dont know if what we are about to do is going to be a mistake or not???

    There are things that we can do which are obviously wrong, that we know are wrong (or dangerous), but we do them anyway for the sheer thrill of it. Whether it is something as simple as having unprotected sex or something more dangerous such as smoking controlled substances or jumping out of an airplane or something as illegal as street racing or having sex in a public place – people are always conscious of the decisions they make – even the bad ones.

    Thus, the underlying meaning of that line is bound to the recognition of our acute awareness of the limitations of our mortality. It’s a double edged sword. Life is so short, that it is ultimately a waste of our humanity to live without a little adventure. Some of that adventure brings us to the edge of testing our own mortality. The thing is, if we get caught, or if something goes wrong, can we live with the repercussions of that mistake? Fundamentally speaking, living life with a little thrill here and there is grossly exhilarating – and worthwhile if we get away with it. However, we should only choose those thrills that could have the least possible impact on our lives.

    If you snort coke or smoke marijuana a couple of times as a youth but have the capacity to discipline yourself such that it never becomes a habit, you probably won’t develop an addiction that would drastically alter your life for the worse. If your girlfriend gets pregnant, there’s always abortion (if you subscribe to it) or adoption options. If you get arrested for public indecency, at worst, it will only be a bit embarrassing. One day when you are older and married, you and your wife will laugh over your crazy days as youths over a drink as you enjoy your golden years on your front porch watching over your grand children – and you will have no regrets.

    If however you contract a fatally incurable STD, develop lung cancer, become victim to a drug induced coma, your parachute doesn’t open, or your car makes a fatal error traveling down a busy street at 140 mph, that’s it. You don’t get to walk away unscathed. There is no reset button. So if you ever feel the desire of doing something exhilirating, chances are, whatever that activity is, it is most likely a dangerous thing to do and thus ultimately a dumb thing to do. So only do those things that have the least likelihood of prematurely excommunicating you from the gene pool.

    You follow?

    I made a very similar comment some time ago when I said:

    Whenever you sin, sin responsibly

    You can read all about that here.

  5. January 1, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks for putting up your blog site. I must admit that it has caused me to think more deeper into many stuff and made me far more observant and evaluative than before…In as much as I disagree with many of our sayings.

    The thing is that, most of your general arguments on love and humanity stuff is very western, and scarcely apply to how people operate in the east… ITs a whole different ball game in the east and possibly the middle east as well. For example in your last post the topic was “EVERY SINGLE WOMAN has at least three boyfriends “…. Most women in the east well Japan more specifically are a little different…The majority of them have only 1 man and sometimes dont even have other male friends who they talk stuff with… Many of them just want to get married by 25 and don’t give 2 hoots what the man’s personality is like…SERIOUSLY!!! and they are in total surrender to what ever this man says… also many times these men dont give 2 hoots about their wives, they just eat their food, watch TV and go back out and drink with the guys… Surpisingly, the wife almost always remain faithful to the T… http://davecollyjap.blogspot.com/2008/10/day-203-dexter-wives-stay-home-wednsday.html

    However a couple of the younger generation Japanese girls, say from age 18- 25/26, occationally have multiple boyfriends…and they ditch whoever they feel like without showing any slight hint of remorse or emotional attachments …and its not about who appeal to their emotional side and who have great sex with them or whatever…its just because they can do it…Sex for these girls is not even a big thing….they dont care if its good or bad, they will still ditch the guy and dont give a damn…
    (sorry for not putting this these comments on the appropriate posting)

    I watched a movie recently and the underlying theme (even though I didnt really enjoy the movie) was “Humanity always appears to change for the better when on the brink of self extinction.”

    “War is proof of the utter paradoxical simplicity of mankind.” – I was thinking about this just recently…No matter what we discover or think or how wealthy we become, We are all just very basic creatures…

    “Only make mistakes from which you can easily recover.” – I am having difficulty fully grasping this saying, when we don’t really PLAN to make a mistake…how can we “Only make mistakes from which you can easily recover.” when we dont know if what we are about to do is going to be a mistake or not???

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