It’s Good to Be Back

Vol 4: Building Worldviews

I recently shared this tweet of a map from the 1500s:

I plan to explore this idea of Updating Medieval Maps later, but I wanted to use this as a helpful illustration about worldview construction.

Every second of every day our body is processing information. Everything we process is categorized and contributes to our personal mental map of the world. When we’re surprised, that map gets updated.

One of my goals for 2021 was to aim to expand my worldview as much as possible — to expand the edges of my mental map, and then spend time increasing the resulting fidelity.1

Most of our mental maps look something like the image above. They’re horribly inaccurate and we’re seemingly always surprised by what’s happening in the world. But some people are exceedingly good at figuring out how the world works, and I’ve been trying to study them accordingly.

To this end, I’ve explored more books, podcasts, and essays about geopolitics, hard sciences, history, psychology, and philosophy. Books don’t translate to every job or task, but they’ve been incredibly useful as a personal cartographer.2

See, reality is messy and complex, and every worldview is a gross oversimplification of this fact. The key question is whether it is a useful simplification. Knowing the limitations of an idea is just as important as having an idea. This lets you apply it to great effect — despite the messiness of reality.

For the past 8 months I’ve consciously expanded my worldview. It’s been invigorating, frustrating, illuminating, confusing, and scintillating. It demanded my focus and limited free time, which constrained the amount of writing I publicly shared. But updating your worldview is a never ending process, and I realized that there’s never a perfect time to start sharing what you learn along the way. I’d rather share scattershot thoughts than type away and never hit publish. I’m making a goal to return to Embers in a more concerted effort. Hopefully some of what I share will be useful for you.

The last thing I’ll say is that it’s been quite rewarding to reflect on how different I see the world now. There are plenty of things that still happen that cause me to shake my head in wonder and/or disbelief, but I also now see why certain things happen with much more clarity. That seems to be a worthy pursuit: finding whatever clarity you can in the brief time you’re here. If you enjoy that process, then it’s even more fulfilling.

“It’s good to be back.”

1

One of the interesting paradoxes of the Internet is it’s now easier than ever to expand your worldview, while at the same time it’s equally possible to find (sometimes fabricated) evidence to confirm your priors.