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Hey, thanks for stopping by. It's super to have you here!

My endeavor is to delve into certain issues to give you some perspective, help you understand the world better, attempt to understand why we do what we do, and maybe in all of this, make the world teeny-weeny better! 

Disclaimer: It may be a tad bit opinionated!

So, let's get to it...

We Live Under an Illusion of Control

Less than a decade ago, in the early morning hours of July, dozens of teams gathered across the globe to view the live stream of a press conference from CERN in Geneva. The rumors (that were flying around back then) were confirmed when it was announced that there was enough evidence to indicate that the Higgs Boson a.k.a. ‘God Particle’ had been discovered. To non-science people, God particle is nothing to do with religion but let’s just say it was something that scientists had been burning their heels for decades! Responsible for this discovery was the 17-mile long Large Hadron Collider (or LHC) – a circular race-track-like apparatus that is surrounded by 9000 superconducting magnets housing hordes and hordes of protons that are moving in opposite directions at speeds just shy of the speed of light, engaging in millions of collisions in under a fraction of a second.[1] (If any of you has seen the movie Angels & Demons, you would be able to visualize what I am talking about) This extremely high-precision piece of equipment took 10 years to construct and engaged the brains of several of the top-notch scientists from around the world to study and analyze the data sensed by its mammoth detectors.[2] The scientists were more than 99% accurate in their analysis, but such was the control of scientists that had to be maintained in this $13-billion high-precision experiment that it was estimated that even the slightest of malfunctions would have resulted in an energy release equivalent to the detonation of 2.4 tons of TNT![3]

Particle physics is a subject of extreme precision overwhelmingly driven by decisions based on highly-complex mathematical and scientific formulae in highly controlled environments. Our life (in general) however is not. Unlike the LHC-Boson experiment, life is influenced by the vagaries of human behavior and human emotions. However, we desperately want our lives to be like these high-precision experiments, as we want to be more than 99% in control of our life’s outcomes and to be 99% in control all the time. Wanting to believe that we are in control of our lives is like that emotional itch that desperately needs to be scratched rather than a mathematical problem to be solved.


My daughter is ten as I write this. She is very sharp, intelligent, quick to grasp, and has one hell of a memory! But sometimes I wonder about all the things she can’t comprehend. She doesn’t know or understand the idea of good health. She can’t comprehend what adversity is. She has no idea about stock markets. The concept of rents, bills, insurance, integrity, emotion, feelings, etc. would be somewhat alien to her as of now. But because she doesn’t understand all this, it doesn’t mean that she wanders around in confusion. She has formed her own set of narratives, and mental models through which she forms an impression about life. Similarly, I don’t know what I don’t know. Yet I form a mental impression about how the world works. I attach a narrative to whatever is happening around me in order to make sense of what’s going on. Like her, I try to come up with the most understandable causes in everything I come across. And like her, in fact, more than her, I am wrong about a lot of things, because I know a lot less about how the world works than I think I do.

This is true not only for my daughter and me but for all of us, no matter our age or situation. Most of us when confronted with something we don’t understand do not realize that we do not understand it as we are able to come up with some fantabulous explanations in order to make sense based on our own unique perspectives and experiences in the world, no matter how limited those experiences might be.[4] This is our own uncanny way to scratch that emotional itch of ‘being or feeling in control’ or wanting to believe that we are. Psychologist Philip Tetlock once wrote, “We need to believe we live in a predictable, controllable world, so we turn to authoritative-sounding people who promise to satisfy that need.”

This process happens so quickly and so fast in our minds that we forget what repercussions it can have on us. When we are oblivious to the nuances of how the world operates we become vulnerable to misunderstanding why something happens the way it happens. This can make us attach too much confidence and weightage to our own ability to interpret what is going on. Consequently when X makes a decision for reasons that are unknown to Y then Y can become susceptible to follow X blindly into a decision that could be beneficial for X but disastrous for Y.

Donald Rumsfeld gave a very insightful and famous response to a question he was asked on the lack of evidence linking the Iraqi government with supplying WMD to terrorist groups. He said -

“There are known knowns - these are things we know that we know. Then there are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones.”

Coming to terms with how much you don’t know means coming to terms with how much of what is happening in the world is out of your control. And that can be a bitter pill to swallow!


References [1] Reference from ‘How the Higgs Boson was found’ article in Smithsonian Magazine in Jul 2013 by Brian Greene. [2] Reference from ‘Forbes: Finding the Higgs Boson cost $13.25bn’ article in International Business Times by Eric Brown in 2012. [3] Reference from ‘Large Hadron Collider: What Could Possibly Go wrong’ article in 2008 in [4] A reference is drawn from Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel




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Grunge Texture


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If you stand on the edge of confusion, deliberating on what to do when it comes to your health, this is just the right book for you to begin with. What you need are tools, tenets, and strategies that will help you adopt the right mindset and help you maintain it. That according to me is the most important prerequisite of leading a healthy lifestyle ‘coz Honey, It’s not about six-pack abs!

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