The Dangers And Confusing Nature Of Shallow Advice

Singular advice, particularly advice related to the mind —e.g., how to tips, or do ‘this’ and ‘that’ to increase your X — is dangerous. For the law of compound interest is always at play, which means that individual reasons (or factors, elements, ingredients, elements, facets, etc) on their own are as good as useless; singling them out without taking into account the many others—and how they interchange and interact—isn’t a simple matter, and can be distorting.

It’s easy to cite a ‘favourite book’, but firstly, what does ‘favourite’ mean for that person, and secondly, how have they came to that conclusion?—have they taken into account all the other books they’ve read, or books that may have lead them to that particular book?—or how mood may be influencing they choice?—or many of the other aspects that affect judgement, decision making, and interest? It’s the same with movies, quotes, ‘pieces of advice’, teachers—anything that one cites as ‘fundamental’ to who they are as a person today. Be skeptical of singled-out things like transcendental experiences (as opposed to prolonged, highly emotional experiences, struggles, uncertainty), epiphanies (as opposed to hour, months or even years of thought and attention towards a certain question or problem), individual books (as opposed to the practice of reading).

We don’t follow the advice of others — we can’t; we follow our own advice. When we are given advice, it is our interpretation of it that matters — and it is always different to that of the giver, and, for that matter, anyone else who is given the same advice. Due to ineptness at ESP, coming to the same interpretation for any idea with anybody is impossible; our ability to communicate — as wonderful, profound and beautiful as it is — cannot transfer individual understanding. We take advice from others and subconsciously come to our own definition of it — which makes all the difference.

This is not to say advice is bad, and that you shouldn’t give nor take it; rather, that you should take into account the contributing factors to such advice when sharing it, and especially when taking it: cognitive bias and ignorance to fundamental laws — namely, compound interest — make up a large part of these factors.

Considering this may lead one to the following conclusion: all learning is self-learning. Advice, like theory, should be used to inspire: when you take advice, don’t take it literally, or think it is the ‘key’; rather, use it as inspiration to do your own finding out; and when you give advice try not to instruct, but guide—that is, you want to inspire action in the receiver and not give the the impression that your advice is going to be the dot-connector, that it is the silver bullet, which, through much trial and error and struggle, one must find for oneself.

Mad Chris
Mad Chris -- Philosopher, Public Thinker, Writer -- is our very own Seneca. He lives the much envied life of a scholarly flâneur. He spends half of his time in the hustle and bustle of New York City, and the other half in quietude, on a houseboat, atop a famous lake in the Scottish Highlands. His favourite writer? You guessed it -- Seneca. The food at his death bed? '3-5 olives.'

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