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Email is a to-do list controlled by others

Mutant Lineages

We are the product of a million ancestors who were mutants. Each mutant was the only one in their generation that had that mutation, whether it was a sense of humor or having skin cells that happened to be sensitive to light. Even if the average person appears to be plain, we forget that we have a deep history of outsiders in our genes. Whether or not these outsiders had mutations that were a handicap or advantage at the time, is unknown. But what is known is that each of them survived long enough to reproduce, and in most cases, they found someone who to mate with in spite of, or because of, their difference.

To-Do Lists

People talk up to-do lists as if they were some magic solution, but for what? To-do lists can't reduce the time it takes to do the tasks, nor do the lists stop you from procrastinating. Their only purpose is as reminders. Instead, people most often use to-do lists as a way to project their anxieties about their responsibilities. Adding a task to your to-do list immediately feels like progress. You've now commited yourself to doing something in the future and so you feel a brief sense of relief. You were once anxious about the task not getting done, and now that it's "on the list," you feel secure that the task will be complete. But the relief is short-lived, and the anxiety is likely to return until you actually complete the task.

To-do lists can't end procrastination. They can't make you focus. They can't make you work faster or harder. That doesn't mean the lists aren't useless. To-do lists create a satisfying ding of progress when you cross items off, and they can also can also help you remember things that you are likely to forget. In other words, they're just reminders, and we should probably call them that. If we renamed our to-do lists "reminders," our attitude toward our tasks would change, and ultimately we'd probably have less anxiety. By using an economical label for our productivity tools, we avoid building expectations for them that that they can't possibly fulfill.

The Faith in Qualia

The biases and cognitive missteps that occur when someone defends a belief in God are similar to those of someone who believes in qualia. If you question God-believers, they will justify by saying, "I just know it to be so." Or they may refer to some deeply spiritual experience in the past. Likewise, if you ask consciousness-believers why they believe in qualia, i.e. "knowing that blue is blue," they will emphatically say, "I just know it to be so."

Vouching for the authenticity of conscious experiences is a memory-retrieval act, similar to vouching for the authenticity of God. The God-believer professes a belief by recalling a placeholder of their belief. Those placeholders are constructed from memories that are as real as witness testimony in trials, which is hazy, at best. To the witness recalling the scene of a crime, they will often state, "It's like it was yesterday." But psychology studies keep showing that our brains readily fill in the blanks to create a convincing portrait of a memory. Likewise, when someone summons their understanding of the color blue, it's a similar placeholder: "The last time I inspected the qualia of blue, it was something special." Repeat this enough times, and you'll have conviction.








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