Intellectual Cowardice: Western Indology is Promoting Genocide Denial Of India’s Past

I feel this is an important issue to highlight, because Western Academia seems poised to just ignore painful truths of history, even if it means genocide denial for the sake of treating all religions as equal. After learning more about the issues within Islam, I had to re-evaluate what I thought was true from US Indology books and so I made this post to highlight a perturbing trend of genocide denial by US Indology departments that seem to be extending across Western Indology and it may be branching into other portions of Western academia as well. That is why I feel it was necessary to make this post because what I thought was fairly innocuous information in Unifying Hinduism is now incredibly alarming when I reflect back on it.

Claims by US Indologists from Chapter 10 of Andrew Nicholson’s Book “Unifying Hinduism“:

“HINDUISM: A MODERN INVENTION? “Hindu” was not originally a Sanskrit word but a Persian term used by Muslims to describe a regional or ethnic identity: the people living near the Indus, or Sindhu, river.44 Only at a relatively late date was the term adopted by Indians to refer to themselves, typically as distinguished from outsider groups known as turuskas (Turks) or mlecchas (barbarians). Cynthia Talbot has recorded the earliest usage of the word “Hindu” in an Indian language from inscriptions in mid-fourteenth-century Andhra, in which some Vijayanagara kings were described with the epithet “Sultan among Hindu kings” (Hindu-raya-suratrana).45 Talbot cautions, though, that in these inscriptions, “Hindu meant Indic as opposed to Turkish, not ‘of the Hindu religion’ as opposed to ‘of the Islamic religion.’”46 In Gaudīya Vaiṣṇava texts written in Bengali in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, “Hindu” was occasionally used to distinguish natives from yavanas or mlecchas.47 Although the context makes clear that these foreigners were Muslims, Gaudīya Vaiṣṇava writers did not state this explicitly until the eighteenth century, when the term musulmāna fnally became common usage in Bengali. In this case too, the word may have designated ethnicity generally and not a specific set of religious beliefs.

Further on in the chapter:

“Unlike later Hindu nationalist intellectuals, who sometimes recorded their fantasies of heroic and violent resistance to Muslim oppression, Sanskrit intellectuals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries responded with silence.28”

Source: Nicholson, Andrew J. Chapter 10: Hindu Unity And The Non-Hindu Other (4806-5293). Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History (South Asia Across the Disciplines). Columbia University Press, 2010.

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Thus Spake Zarathustra Review

He who said ‘God is a Spirit’—made the greatest stride and slide hitherto made on earth towards unbelief: such a dictum is not easily amended again on earth!” – Thus Spake; Zarathustra,  Chapter LXXVIII: The Ass-Festival. Thomas Common translation.

Nietzsche’s philosophical novel was an amazing read. At the time I began to read it, I hadn’t really been captivated by a novel since the Harry Potter series (which I love) and I found most fantasy stories to be really boring. I had first become familiar with it after reading a philosophical analysis of one of my favorite video games, Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne. I knew Nocturne was conveying some philosophy, but I didn’t know what at the time. I discovered Nocturne is a spiritual re-telling of certain portions of the novel.

I didn’t expect much at the time, it was mostly curiosity in relation to the game. I suspected that I’d find it boring. To my surprise, it was initially quite a laughable read. Zarathustra is humiliated in front of a crowd whom he tries to speak with as equals. The crowds throughout the novel are always seen as hateful and resentful of anything outside of their small town or village community, they resent and fear any change to better themselves, and spend their days not having a clear opinion on what they want from life or any direction on how they seek to motivate their own improvement, but rather live in indolence seeking only self-gratification and nothing else. This is one of the recurring themes of the novel when Zarathustra travels. Zarathustra seeks to be honest with himself and philosophizes his views, but doing so means he’s ridiculed, ostracized, and labeled dangerous for criticizing core beliefs that are held as sacrosanct. People just don’t want to listen to him and instead make spurious personal attacks based upon the most haphazard of claims.

Nevertheless, the beginning portion goes from particularly inspiring with his evocative words about teaching people of the Ubermensch in the beginning of the novel to a bizarre sort of tragicomedy immediately after. Zarathustra speaks to a crowd that doesn’t wish to understand him and instead ask him about the Last Man which he warns about; the Last Man being the aforementioned indolent dweller who doesn’t care about anything but self-gratification. The tightrope walker falls off from their circus act and severely injures himself which scares the crowd into fleeing. Nobody from the crowd helps the dying tightrope walker except Zarathustra who listens to his dying request to be buried. Zarathustra takes his body, which people in other parts of the village use as shortsighted “evidence” to accuse Zarathustra of grave-robbing, and leaves it up a tree to avoid wolves eating the dead man’s flesh. He sits down and gets absorbed into his own thoughts for awhile before leaving the dead body in the tree. I had laughed at this at first because Zarathustra clearly misunderstood the man’s request and didn’t really follow through with it despite convincing himself that he had. It was really peculiar and apart from being comical, I don’t see much on what that specific scenario was meant to convey. By contrast, the chapter immediately after about making good habits was immediately clear and brought back the interest.

Throughout his journey, Zarathustra extols some very interesting perspectives, but it’s always with the pernicious culture of vitriol and hatred for his teachings by various small town or small village communities who refuse to engage and don’t care to change their habits. Zarathustra points out that people prefer simplistic narratives of good and evil based on their culture or community instead of evaluating right and wrong for themselves. This is particularly evident in religious cultures. They claim to be about their own justice and goodness, but put their brains to sleep when faced with corruption or just blame humanity in general instead of fighting back against such corrupt individuals and corrupt institutions. He guides the reader into asking, if these religious teachings of your community are truly so moral and wonderful, if their values are universally correct as your religion might claim them to be, then why doesn’t it stop abusive behavior from happening? And on the charge of blaming humanity in general when they fail, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra argues that this is responding to genuine criticisms with pure hatred. Theologians and the herd who argue that humans will always be violent or abusive by nature in this circular reasoning argument that “humans are humans” are actually expressing pure hatred for humanity. It doesn’t challenge or confront people who harm you or who harm those you love, it’s just a way of throwing away an argument by refusing to listen and instead opting for a nihilistic hatred for all of humanity as a sort of divine answer.

His criticisms of religion, which are his most salient and paradoxically his most ignored contentions, seem to have gone completely unchallenged. I’ve looked for critiques online and nobody mentions his criticisms on religion. In fact, when I join Nietzsche groups online (which usually have 2000+ members) and begin discussing his criticisms of religion, I am immediately banned from such groups. So-called Nietzsche fans like saying that he contradicted himself or didn’t really say anything, but no one ever seems to be aware or brings up his criticisms of religion. So-called readers of Nietzsche never once speak of it. The closest I’ve seen to an honest critique is Alain de Bottom and a lecture video by Jordan Peterson in one of his classes. By contrast, Christian theologians are notoriously dishonest; repeatedly claiming Nietzsche said things that he never did. I even read an online book in which the author cited Nietzsche by cutting out half the words in a aphorism to claim Nietzsche said something that he never advocated for. I’ve seen Nietzsche quotes pages on facebook full of quotes that Nietzsche never once wrote. Most other scholars of Nietzsche, even on Quora, seem to have read critiques of Nietzsche but never Nietzsche’s actual works. They don’t read to form their opinions on Nietzsche, they read criticisms of Nietzsche and believe those criticisms to be absolute fact and never bother to actually read Nietzsche. Some might argue its due to the confusion over Elizabeth Forster-Nietzsche appropriating his works for her Nazi ideologies, Heidegger’s own appropriation in which he created a Strawman, or perhaps the strawman delusions of Bertrand Russell; but in all honesty, these sorts of strawman depictions exist for every famous person. Even the US Founding Fathers are constantly misinterpreted. I think what underlies all this confusion is the human capacity of heuristics. People believe they can judge and know everything about a single human being from a few short excerpts and judge their entire life based on a few short sentences they read. This does have evolutionary benefits like spotting really dangerous people like Adolf Hitler, but it can be misused and people can be manipulated into seeing hatred, dishonesty, or evil from people who want to criticize bad beliefs. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi seem more like exceptions than the rule, where the character assassinations against them eventually backfired. But for people criticizing ideas without civil disobedience or in a context where civil disobedience isn’t a factor, it becomes much harder to be listened to from others.

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Why There Is No God by Armin Navabi

This book is an excellent introductory for theists, agnostics, and atheists unsure of their atheism on the basic arguments that atheists have against the belief in a God or Gods. Armin Navabi, an ex-Muslim who grew up in Iran and became Canadian after leaving the faith, gives a thorough examination of the most common criticisms of religion that atheists give to theists. If you’re one of the aforementioned people that is genuinely curious about why atheists don’t believe in a God or Gods, then I highly recommend this book. It offers the most thorough explanations about the most common arguments that atheists have against the existence of a God.

Unfortunately, even in today’s time, many theists often pretend to know what atheists think and believe about faith in a God or Gods. There is this erroneous belief that atheists hate or fear a God because of something that happened in their personal life or because that’s what holy books like the Bible give as reasons for why someone would be an atheist instead of simply talking to atheists and asking them why. The belief that atheists fear or hate God or love to wallow in sin is the wrong assessment about most atheists. Many atheists point to scientific evidence and criticisms of theology for their reasons on why they don’t believe in any sort of higher power anymore. Armin thoroughly explains these lines of reasoning. He goes on to dismiss the most common theistic comebacks that have been debunked for decades now such as Pascal’s Wager, arguments from ignorance of how little humans know as a reason to believe in a God, and using smart or famous people as reasons to believe in a God or Gods.

If you’re looking for sincere reasons why atheists don’t believe in a God or why people of your faith are leaving your religion, this book is for you. If you want to sincerely understand the basic reasons, then this book will be incredibly useful in understanding the atheist mindset. If you’re a theist or an agnostic who thinks atheists want to live in sin, or are fearful, or hate God; then I honestly recommend this book so that your misconceptions will be cleared away and you can focus on the real reasons that people are leaving religion and think about them. If you’re so concerned about the increase in atheism and view it as a negative occurrence, why not take a leap of faith and read this book to understand the real motivations and reasons on why people leave? If you don’t understand the real reasons, how will you ever hope to change the mind of an atheist? The reasons why people leave religion and become atheist won’t be found in the Bible or the Quran. They’ll only be found by actually listening to atheists. Perhaps, start with this book?

Score: 8/10.

Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke

This book was a really good read and I highly recommend it. Annie Duke goes into the principles of Truthseeking; suggesting to view your confidence in your beliefs as separate from your identity and viewing them instead as percentages that you place your confidence in. For example, my belief in a certain show I was watching being a good show was at 50 percent. After watching the latest season, it has dropped down to 35 percent and I will no longer watch the show. Using percentages removes the idea of all-or-nothing thinking where the belief is either 100 percent or zero percent with no in-between, potentially causing you to stick to a bad belief when it could be harmful to you.

She encourages readers to Think in Bets for the sake of Truthseeking in order to more efficiently reach our goals in life. She generally uses poker metaphors, but the lessons are indeed useful and fascinating. Think of your decision-making on future possibilities as bets for your future with the different choices that you make as alternative bets for alternative futures. The key to making the best bets is to be as objective, impartial, and honest with ourselves regardless of how painful it’ll be for us. Moreover, it’s best to avoid outcome-focus / Hindsight bias. A psychological bias in all humans where we perceive an event as inevitable after it has happened. It’s a way of making a personal narrative in our minds of our own story and it is a powerful psychological bias that can often cause us to make costly mistakes or confuse our luck with our skill.

One of the most interesting and surprising bits of information was learning that study after study shows that motivated reasoning and confirmation bias effect intelligent people more than average people. In fact, the more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to be afflicted with a biased outlook because you can process information and reasons for your conclusions from a greater array of fallacious reasoning. This might sound puzzling, but essentially, when a person is emotional and wants to believe something to be true, they’ll find better excuses for it. Intelligent people’s excuses happen to be better so this is particularly impactful the smarter an individual is. They could find more reasons that sound plausible, but they wouldn’t necessarily be objective and impartial. If the focus isn’t on objectivity, then it can become self-damaging.

Mrs. Duke recommends forming a team among your friends who are also interested in Truthseeking. The key is not to complain or to speak about bad luck, but rather to focus on what you can do to learn from your decision-making. Which bets on your future are good? Which are bad? Be honest about your shortcomings and your strengths; do not bias your story to make yourself look better when analyzing your decision-making with friends. When they point out your shortcomings, don’t get angry. The point is learning from our mistakes in order to improve. Friends who are brutally honest will have less rose-tinted glasses than we ourselves do about our own decision-making and vice-versa.

Believe it or not, this is all just the tip of the iceberg. I highly recommend this book. It’s very good; I couldn’t give it a perfect score because the latter-half tends to drag on with different anecdotes. However, some of the most interesting concepts are also developed and expanded in the latter-half too.

Score: 8/10

Definitely check this book out, if you’re even slightly interested.

Intelligence: All That Matters by Stuart Ritchie

This book is useful in clearing away misconceptions about intelligence research that have been popularized in Social Media and Liberal-leaning media outlets. One of the most shocking facts presented in this book is Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences has no basis in scientific research; at best, Musical Intelligence may be different from General Intelligence (G-Factor) but there are mixed results even there from the scientific studies. Studies on the so-called Multiple Intelligences has found no evidence that they’re separate as Gardner claims them to be. The G-Factor generally shows that if you’re good in one area, then you’re good in others and you can improve your skills faster as a result. For instance, emotional intelligence falls into the category of IQ too and doesn’t contradict the current psychological model of the five personalities. The only possible area where Gardner’s theory might have merit is Musical Intelligence and the results for that are mixed from scientific research, so Gardner’s claims there are also unlikely to have merit.

Ritchie explains in his book that there is a strong correlation between our genes and our IQ according to repeated scientific studies, there are two more important and crucial factors that should be mentioned; the most productive way to increase your IQ is to focus on living a healthy life because focusing on one’s health helps improve our physical development especially before the age of 25, similar to research that shows malnutrition diminishes our brain development as children. Equally noteworthy is that our personal motivation plays a stronger factor in increasing and determining IQ than our genes which corroborates Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, where she explains how effort counts twice. Our genes play a factor, but they’re not the sole or the most important factor. The scientific consensus shows that IQ can increase depending on our social environment and strikingly enough – absent any form of psychological, physical, or sexual abuse – parenting doesn’t play a significant factor in influencing a child’s IQ. Ritchie repeatedly clarifies that despite the genetic influence, studies show a stronger link with motivation and good health in determining our IQ. One sad fact from the scientific studies is that there is rabid cognitive decline for all human beings in our ability to learn and process new information quickly after the age of 25, so childhood development and motivation is especially important to increasing a person’s IQ over a lifetime.

Ritchie goes on to dismiss the popularized book The Bell Curve by Charles Murray as there is a total lack of scientific research on the question of Race and IQ. Ritchie cautions making spurious generalizations due to the history of the eugenics movement; one such example of a genocide that I know of is the forcible sterilization of Native American women by several State governments within the US. All we can say at the moment is that we don’t know enough about Race and IQ. Similarly, the IQ differences of men and women have no real scientific research to back them; at best, one country’s analysis from the 1940s and it’s impossible to determine what social factors could influence the results from back then. The research itself showed that men and women of a certain country were totally equal in intelligence with men having more spatial intelligence and women with more verbal intelligence as kids during the first study and as adults several years later. That isn’t enough to make a determination or rule out social factors. The only factor unambiguously determined is that atheists generally have a much higher IQ than religious people.

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Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

I began reading this book out of curiosity on what insights Dr. Esther Perel, a psychotherapist whose work and counseling focuses on sexual relationships, could offer in the subject matter of married sex lives. I had found her speaking events to be quite educational and useful for understanding people’s sexual inhibitions and preferences. Seeing her tackle issues of social norms of marriage and how the US may be going about it the wrong way in the age of openness was refreshing.

I think this book is most definitely worth reading for anyone. Regardless of if your interests are marriage or the single life, there’s definitely useful information to be gleaned in this book.

Perel details that one of the reasons married couples have less sex, outside of the context of raising a young child before their kindergarten years, is because they stress togetherness too much and holding nothing back from each other. Instead of seeing their spouses in terms of husband and wife, with a secure and quick reference, we should strive to maintain their otherness and acknowledge their separateness as individuals who exist for themselves so as not to generalize who they are in connection to you.

Perel notes how certain married couples lost the erotic drive because they think of their spouse in terms of mother and father of their children and feel it’s somehow unnatural or even out of the bounds of what’s socially acceptable to eroticize their spouse. This revelation genuinely perplexed me. Evidently, spouses who cheat have this issue and speaking with a married co-worker when I explained this revelation from Perel’s research into the thoughts and feelings of those who cheat also came as a surprise to them. After all, why should society dictate one’s relationship to one’s spouse? That seems altogether ridiculous, but evidently many married couples humble themselves to the norms of a society that largely doesn’t care what they do in the bedroom.

Long story short, the best way is to work towards making a romantic setting (even romance requires effort and doesn’t come easy) and to remember to emphasize separateness / Otherness. The reason you should focus on Otherness is to emphasize your spouse or sexual partner as their own individual apart from you. The passion and eroticism is unlikely to return unless that is emphasized. You don’t need to share everything and it ruins the passion in a romance when people take that path due to the lack of mystery and surprise. In effect, Otherness in marriage and recognizing your partner as their own entity separate from you can go a long way in bringing the passion back into the relationship.

There is more subject matter to be gleaned as this summary is just an overview. For instance, BDSM culture isn’t unhealthy when you have two consenting partners and Dr. Perel lists an anecdote where a breast cancer survivor used such for foreplay and eroticism to get her husband back into feeling passionate for her in the bedroom.

If you’re interested in clearer explanations of all this material, I recommend reading the entire book as this is simply a summary of what Dr. Perel details in her book.

Review of Unifying Hinduism by Andrew Nicholson: Errors in Reasoning

Although I’d like to praise this work, as I largely liked Nicholson’s analyses and enjoyed reading some of them, I’m compelled by my own academic standards to give Unifying Hinduism a negative review. First, let me just say that for the average reader that this book will possibly satisfy interest in examining interesting parts about Hindu philosophy that can be parsed through this text, but its largely with opinion pieces presented with an academic veneer. I read this book in conjunction with Oxford’s handbook of Indian philosophy in the hopes of better understanding the ancient Indian theology and its differences with Modern Hinduism since it was argued by Western academia that modern Hinduism can’t be called anything but a modern invention in reaction to oppressors. Nevertheless, I’ve since concluded these people don’t even bother following the clear references in the text, or understanding the legacy of inclusivity within Hinduism, or look into India’s history for a fuller understanding, or well . . . anything resembling what is typical in academia. Religious Studies is known as the least academic of all disciplines since it doesn’t use actual history, archaeology, or any type of credible research; the Oxford handbook is rife with paranoid conspiracy theories taken as fact, as an example. Religious Studies seems to try to purport some privileged understanding, but they seem to hold no real knowledge of Western analytical philosophy and seem to just be glorified translators with mistaken perceptions on their knowledge.

I was initially discouraged because reading the arguments of Edward Said, and the fact Indology takes them seriously, was very disconcerting. Nicholson prefaces the book by detailing how an entire school of Indology is based on Edward Said’s views on indigenous people. Said seems to be considered a pillar of Indology, and his assertion is that indigenous people were formed into their way of thinking by imperialism and therefore have no right to any opinion regarding their own ancient texts. Said argues none of an indigenous person’s views are credible, because they’ve been brought up as a result of imperialism. Allusions to the idea that indigenous people were merely savages before Western colonization abound as implications for this reasoning. However, Edward Said’s entire argument is a fallacy of Circular Reasoning; he asserts the premise with the conclusion. That is, he argues that indigenous people are products of Western imperialism and therefore can be dismissed because their opinions are products of Western imperialism. This is very flawed reasoning and the fact it’s a respected opinion in Indology seemed asinine to me since I could easily pick apart the flaws using analytical philosophy. In fact, this is even more bizarre than at first glance, since Indology seems to parade analytical philosophy in many of its texts . . . but don’t even have a basic understanding of it. There’s simply no logical or reasonable basis to respect Edward Said’s assertions; he’s homogenizing billions of people based on their ethnic background and literally devaluing the very idea they have any say based on their race. Moreover, the premise is false; it was the literal opposite of what Said espoused. Schools from Ireland to India were shut down or demolished, people were repeatedly starved, and mass genocides in internment camps due to cholera or starvation or both ensued under imperialism. As a direct result, religious fanaticism increased to a fever-pitch in response to such brutality. Pre-modern India, with mathematicians like Aryabhata and Brahmagupta, were more focused on logical reasoning than the sadly illiterate India that followed after British colonial rule. Nevertheless, I thought it couldn’t be comprised of all what Nicholson had to say, so I bought the book and eagerly began reading.

Some arguments are just teeming with arrogance. In one such argument in favor of a unified Hinduism, Nicholson argues in support of a Hindu identity and contends the assertions of his Indologist colleague Paul Hacker who tries to assert some bizarre generalization that a billion Hindus feel inferior and his even more bizarre re-contextualization of Modern Hinduism and pre-modern Hinduism into some neo-terms that have no basis. I held a favorable disposition for Nicholson and an unfavorable one for Hacker, I readily admit this and I found Nicholson provided a better argument . . . but by the end, Nicholson diverges into ad hominem and implies Hacker has no right to an opinion because he’s a Christian. I sort of just stared at that as it took me a moment to process that a Western scholar could be so blatantly bigoted and provide such a ridiculous error in reasoning. Nicholson attempts to argue a middle approach that rejects what he sees as Hacker’s presumable extremism. He doesn’t seem to understand that he’s using the logical fallacy of ad hominem against Hacker. He’s also committing the middle-ground fallacy. He doesn’t seem to understand that he’s given ample cause to dismiss this entire branch of Western academia as worthless; if even his fellow Indologists are considered to have valueless opinions, based on a bigoted notion against their religious beliefs, then how on earth is one suppose to make any progress in this discipline? What does progress even look like? What viewpoints can even be called worthwhile? Also, Indology admits it makes random guesses and will never actually progress with anything meaningful. What even is this? How can an entire department of academia lack so much in its credibility?

Sadly, this isn’t the first time Nicholson has done this. Andrew Nicholson, the translator of Siva Song and author of this book Unifying Hinduism, seems to lack the critical thinking faculties of the much-loved Analytical Philosophy that his colleagues repeatedly harp about when he adamantly defends his thesis advisor. He made a response to Rajiv Malhotra, claiming on twitter that Malhotra had plagiarized him, yet he never took Malhotra to court. In his criticism of Rajiv Malhotra, he actually argues that Malhotra has no right to an opinion because he doesn’t understand Sanskrit; Nicholson proceeds to completely destroy his own argument against Malhotra’s assertions that Western academia is making spurious assertions against Hinduism by attributing his own personal guesses on ancient Hinduism to the influence of his thesis advisor Pollock. Why is this self-refuting? Because it means that both Nicholson and Pollock’s ideas have absolutely nothing to do with Hinduism and are their own personal opinions on the religion. If Pollock’s ideas are original, which I don’t dispute, then he isn’t actually doing research since that means he isn’t trying to uncover an ancient philosophy of a religion analogous to an archaeologist, but rather just making things up without sufficient evidence. Evidently, Malhotra has no right to an opinion because he isn’t a translator and Hacker has no right to an opinion because he is a Christian.

In what could have been an interesting final analysis, Nicholson consistently asserts his confusion about why Islam wasn’t integrated into Hinduism and tries to use the Rama re-tellings of replacing Asuras with terms identifying Muslims as proof of Hindu bigotry. He poorly asserts that arguments about Islam being nihilistic is proof Hindus were ignorant since it was the same assertion against Buddhists. He seems entirely unaware of the genocide of approximately 80 million people that Islam committed in Northwestern India, he seems to fail to understand that the re-tellings are parallels to the religion of Zoroastrianism which also forbids the usage of interest rates and believes in sinfulness, and it’s made abundantly clear that he has absolutely no understanding of Islamic theology at all when trying to figure out why Hinduism never tried to adapt it. He consistently asserts Hindu bigotry, but makes no attempt at actually comparing the religions. How hard would it have been to simply seek advice and information from a fellow colleague within his own Religious Studies department? Failing that, how hard would it have been to google search a local Mosque or Islamic center and go ask about Islam there? How hard would it have been to simply research Islamic theology through google or go on the multitude of Islam learning websites to gain a better understanding in order to compare and contrast the religions? Yet, he doesn’t even bother to put even that much effort into this chapter that supposedly tries to compare the religions. This is just laziness on his part and it really repudiates his credibility. Even a ten minute google search of the basic facets of Islam would have answered this question; Islamic jurisprudence is specifically designed to prevent such attempts since any outsider’s views on the theology is considered worthless unless they follow Sharia, Jihad against non-believers of the Abrahamic God is a religious doctrine among the four forms of Jihad that a Muslim must commit to, and any Hindu that did compare them would have been brutally murdered similar to the massacres that made the Hindu Kush (Hindu Murder/Hindu Slaughter) mountains that the Islamic invaders named in their triumphant massacre of approximately 80 million people. Something these Indologists evidently refuse to even engage within any discussion. Never mind the silent destruction and cultural genocide of Zoroastrianism in Iran, Zoroastrianists and Jews of Iran are still persecuted to this very day in modern-day Iran.

He harps about the Hindu extremism, yet seems to be utterly ignorant of the fact India took in Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir that were being persecuted with kidnappings, mass murder, and organized rape campaigns by Muslims in all three countries and rebellious Indian State. Evidently, Pakistan is happy to protest against extrajudicial killings by their police on Pashtun groups that support Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but don’t concern themselves with the sprees of murder, rape, and torture of Hindu and Sikh minorities that have all but left for India for their own safety. Nor does Nicholson seem to think over Intra-Abrahamic violence that could also pose a substantial problem to his own confusion of why Hinduism never adapted to anything of Islam’s theology, he seems blissfully unaware of the outright genocide of Christian Iraqis by ISIS. Both of these events are contemporary and happened only a couple of years ago as of this writing. This shouldn’t be perceived as an attempt to deflect Hindutva or Indian army human rights crimes. The deaths of journalists throughout India and the Indian army’s rapes and murders should absolutely be held accountable with punishable jail time, but these horrible crimes cannot be the only issues highlighted regarding controversial topics for the sake of intellectual honesty. I don’t support the anti-intellectual stupidity of Hindutva or would ever condone what unsavory people in the Indian army have done to civilians, but the refugee crises that Islamic militia groups caused cannot be ignored. Hundreds of thousands of Hindu and Sikh men, women, and children were being gang raped and/or murdered by Islamist groups in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. This is not limited to just them as victims; reports of Christian minorities being gang raped and mass murdered have also abounded but gain less notoriety in the West for whatever reason; evidently, forced conversions in safer countries like India of Hindus who respect Christians is more important to US Christian missionaries than helping their fellow Christians who suffer in the absolute worst offenses to human rights and human dignity under Sharia (Islamic Divine Law) in three separate countries. Not surprising, since helping their fellow Christians would cause them great personal risk and would actually be an act of compassion; instead of their forced conversions and unvarnished hatred of Hindus who respect their beliefs.

He and fellow Indologists argue about theories on how to unify Hinduism or why it’s impossible to unify Hinduism, but after reading several chapters of this book and the Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy, I no longer believe they have honest intentions. In fact, I suspect this entire academic discipline never had any honest intentions and never focused on explicit texts or social customs. It should come as no surprise considering its imperialistic background. Nicholson admits that various forms of belief were accepted under the inclusiveness of Ancient India, he uses one example of Rama’s belief and how people who believed in Rama were free to practice belief when placed under as a component of Vishnu, but he actually seems to argue that this doesn’t prove any unified form of Hinduism. After that, he goes on the most vapid of arguments saying it doesn’t prove inclusiveness just because Hindus were inclusive by nature… What is even being argued anymore? He tries to argue the word Hindu not being used constitutes there being no unified Hinduism, but that’s an argument of semantics. Sanatana Dharma could easily qualify and we’d know what was being referred to. Overall, the fact they try to ignore the inclusiveness or denigrate Hinduism as not unified when not even looking at any historical accounts, denigrating the inclusivity they themselves find in their Sanskrit translations, and the fact they pick and choose such as when Nicholson ignores the parts of the Bhagavad Gita (in which Krishna says all ways, even those that don’t believe in him are acceptable and can lead to Moksha (self-liberation) so long as someone is selfless and helps others) in order to argue that Samkhya isn’t atheistic when their previous research asserts it had theistic and atheistic followers and that by the time of medieval translations the entirety of India had recognized Samkhya as atheistic school of Vedic theology.

It seems peculiar to me how so many Indologists can translate texts in which deities of various Gitas explain repeatedly that all other Gods and Goddesses are unified with them and that Brahman is an aspect of them; but somehow, even despite Nicholson himself translating the Ishvara Gita which has 2 whole chapters devoted to Shiva explaining how all the other deities and him are unified, they somehow conclude there is no unified Hinduism . . . despite the explicit, blatant, and repeated assertions on this unity in the texts themselves. In Siva Song (Ishvara Gita), Great Goddess Song (Devi Gita), and the Song of God (Bhagavad Gita), they all detail this unity with Brahman and the voluminous amount of other deities. If they had argued denominational differences, that would have been valid based on the evidence, but instead they argue different religions even when religions like Rama grow out of Vishnu. It no longer makes any sense. Hinduism has been based on inclusiveness, the belief in Brahman, and even acceptance of Atheism since ancient times; in fact, myself and even the average Westerner who’ve asked questions or been curious about researching Hinduism come to believe – based on Hindu theology – that it’s just separate interpretations and denominations of a unified belief and that people can take whatever interpretation they like from the Upanishads, Gitas, Vedas, and Mahabharata to form our own interpretation. The philosophical aspects of selfless service or doing good based on intrinsic desire in the Upanishads is just as paramount in understanding Hinduism as a philosophy too. Truth seeking and selflessness are paramount teachings. That’s how my family has seen it, how I’ve seen it, how the average US citizen who takes an interest sees it, and even how historically pre-modern India saw itself – the last one is according to Nicholson himself. The belief that they’re different religions seems largely unfounded and the Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy repeatedly references a paranoid conspiracy theory of an Aryan invasion, doesn’t use actual history or archaeology, and doesn’t present any credible evidence for its assertions beyond guesswork; Nicholson’s book also follows suit in this meaningless and trite guesswork presented as “academic” but lacking any actual substance or evidence-based reasoning. Therefore, this book by Nicholson, and possibly everything Indology does from Pollock’s racist and Nazi-friendly assertions (since the Aryan Race Theory is a debunked Western conspiracy only asserted by Neo-Nazis outside of Indology) to Doinger and Larson’s poorly reasoned and poorly argued books, and essentially this entire attempt by translators to act in the most pretentious manner possible should be rebuked and identified as the poorly reasoned trash that it is.

None of these people display any firm understanding of Analytical Philosophy, Nicholson’s book repeatedly uses several logical fallacies, his reasoning of Hindu bigotry largely lacks any historical or reasoned basis and he clearly never bothered to look into Islam before positing possibilities of why Hinduism never adapted it (in fact, I provided a more valid reasoning in this one review then he did in his entire chapter about the subject in his book), and like with the Oxford handbook, Larson’s books, and the actual texts of Hindu theology; I’m simply given more reasons to believe Hinduism was a unified theology and that Nicholson and his ilk are simply acting in bad faith since they never bring any valid evidence for their assertions. In fact, Nicholson’s very book gives ample evidence to this; from his ridiculous ad hominems, to the fact that he pointed out a medieval Marathi text that proves awareness of Islam was very well known at the time of its conquest in India. However, this example of the Marathi texts only gives me further credence to doubt the veracity and validity of Indology as an academic discipline since an entire department claiming to do religious studies was too lazy or too stupid to look into other language translations of a country with approximately 3000 different languages to verify any of their guesswork on evidence. These Indologists instead chose to make assertions strictly based on their fabricated ideas of Sanskrit teachings with no attempt at evidence-based research at all.

I can only conclude that the assertions of this book, and frankly all of Indology, are a worthless failure. These people are translators and they don’t have any special or privileged knowledge. Their books are nothing more than wild speculation and are of no value to understanding Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma.

The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Self-refuting and unsubstantiated

Please note: I’m not giving a negative review on the basis of the thesis of the argument. I’m giving a negative review because of how bafflingly self-refuting the author’s arguments were.

Reading this book, I held no real opinions on the matter. I was, to the best of my knowledge, impartial to the thesis being made. What I found bizarre was how inconsistent, arbitrary, and unfounded much of his arguments were.
I’ll just begin with the examples;

The most glaring self-contradiction is when he quoted an argument in favor of recognizing Shakespeare, the Bible, and Huckleberry Finn as part of the US canon . . . and one page later, he argues that the US canon is an evolving and diverse canon and that new books will replace old ones. Within the context of the argument, he was trying to dismiss arguments that any other culture should have their books as part of the US canon besides the aforementioned books, and that they had no significant impact in Western culture . . . but then lists noteworthy philosophers who expressed viewpoints that they themselves claimed were influenced by reading Hindu and Buddhist schools of thought from translations during the 1800s. Nietzsche, in particular, studied philology and based a lot of his views from assessing the pros and cons of Buddhism which he labeled as superior to Christianity and it’s known that the 1800s philology departments of Germany were translating and studying Indian languages and comparing them to Western languages to translate books from the East. The most baffling part of this is that he quoted several of the founders who claimed their connection to Western culture is dead and that the US culture will be distinct and separate from Western schools of thought as an argument in favor for a unique US culture, but seemed to confuse himself on what that meant since he’s then making arguments in contradiction to the founders intentions by arguing the US is a western culture.

What’s peculiar is that this author claims that US culture is heterogeneous but that any other culture that adapts to foreign influenced, especially Eastern culture making adaptions, is really just imitating the Western influences and shouldn’t reflect positively on those cultures. So, evidently, when the US is suppose to be heterogeneous and adaptable to other cultures, but shouldn’t adapt Eastern culture. And, if Eastern culture adapts and enjoys Western schools of thought, then it proves their inferior? Keep in mind, this man claims to be a historian but seems to be utterly ignorant of the systematic removal of “heathen” ideas of the East throughout several cultural campaigns in the West.

He claims ethnic studies should be taught . . . but then claims that ethnic studies aren’t needed except for Native Americans, because kids get their cultural background understandings from their families and he doesn’t seem to consider the timeframe of how long these families toil at work or have the chance to make a living. He celebrates West African children not knowing their cultural heritage or understanding their families native languages as proof of being more oriented towards US culture, but seems to ignore the fact this badly damages his previous argument that people maintain their cultural backgrounds from their families.

He claims Black Americans are the most inculcated in US culture because of the dislocation from native Africa, the destruction of their previous heritages, and the force fed adaption to whatever culture the White slave-owners forced upon them. He clearly states that Black Americans could be regarded as the most American. Then, he decries the horrors of teaching this false history in New York schools. The problem is though, having grown-up in New York State, I can freely say that he’s wrong about all this racial overemphasis without regard for history. The only international class we had was focused on European history exclusively. We never learned anything about Africa besides their relation to the slave trade with Europe. His arguments about this anti-intellectual falsehood of Black history supposedly began in 1987 . . . but if that’s the case, then I never once experienced it in the early 2000s. Looking back at it, all the author really did was cherrypick stupid quotes to make sweeping generalizations. It is genuinely untrue that any of this farce that he talks about ever happened in NY State high schools. All I learned was European history and that was it. He made such a big deal out of this, quoting stupid comments over and over, and none of it had any truth to it or any impact on the educational system. What I found particularly disgusting was that he’s unwilling to condemn or recognize human genocides of multiple ethnic groups who want their trials and tribulations recognized in history books, but there is a strong rejection of this in favor of a stupid set of half-truths and outright falsehoods being taught in the education system today about US history. Half of the work is basically telling kids they’re wrong about what the education system taught them in first grade. It’s pathetic.

Much like his argument against the person who made the film Roots, he criticizes him for only going by his mother’s genealogy and not his father’s, who led all the way back to Irish descent. Yet, that isn’t a good argument against racism by the West. The Irish were forced into slavery and sold to South America under British rule, suffered a horrible genocidal famine orchestrated by a racist lunatic who oversaw the problems with the corn and potato famine, and purposefully killed 2 million Irish people with their terrible policies. And, then the surviving refugees in the US suffered racist policies by anti-Catholics who discriminated them for their Irish heritage. The author, yet again, refuted their own argument.

The last portion made me raise an eyebrow. He argues that the Left has gone too far with ethnic issues . . . and then makes a total non-sequitur argument using ableism as an example of the Left taking social justice too far. Ableism is the discrimination against people with handicap issues in jobs, school facilities, shopping centers, and tourism. I honestly began shaking my head over the callous disregard for the plight of handicap people and wondered why he would list this as a trite and worthless issue. Disabled people, especially children, most assuredly need to have areas that help assist with their disabilities.

Overall, the thesis is unsubstantiated, and I honestly have no idea how someone could write a book that contradicted itself with no ability to make discernible or meaningful points on what they’re arguing or what the end product of his ideas would even look like. Finally, if it’s wrong to have an ethnocentric cult-like culture – which I don’t disagree with – why then emphasize the West’s ethnocentricity to rebuke the ethnocentric narrative?

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

This book, by Psychologist Angela Duckworth, was very illuminating. I had heard of this book before thanks to having read Carol Dweck and Heidi Grant Halvorson’s books, but I wish I had read this one before them because I feel that it provides the foundational basis for those other two authors delve into with mindsets. Halvorson and Duckworth’s books together seem to give a more concise and efficient view on how to pursue goals. Dweck details the self-conceptions and lists anecdotal examples.

The most striking matter I’ve found about this book doesn’t really relate to the book per se. I’ve discovered that a lot of the more “official” reviews, such as the New Yorker, are being utterly pretentious and vilifying this book based on arguments that Angela Duckworth never made or even implied. I was shocked to see the radical difference between the contents of the book and the disparaging reviews that were being dishonest in their representation of both her research and her as a person. I was in disbelief until I read her perspective on her TEDTalk in her own book where she mentions, in much nicer words than I’m describing, how the CEO of TED basically asked her to dumb down her information to the public about her findings. The TEDTalk and the arguments against her feel and sound like they’re calling her bluff about nonsense the public has heard before, specifically because she was requested to tone down the information. So, it’s unfair. It’s unfair of us to judge her based on her TEDTalk and those shockingly disingenuous reviews. I wouldn’t honestly be saying this had I not done the same prior to reading her book on a whim.

Long story short: this book isn’t about education policy and never claimed to be. This book is for individuals and parents who want to learn what encourages people to find a passion, how to learn to work at that passion for a long term, and how we internalize a greater purpose for ourselves and others by following through with commitments that we feel strongly about. Grit was never about making kids better with grades. Nevertheless, this can only apply to grades, if kids care about the classes they take, but this book is more oriented towards extracurricular activities and encouraging them in kids early, it was never about trying to force kids to be passionate or persevere in grades on subjects they don’t care about. Duckworth even explains the problems trying to force people to be passionate about subject matter that they don’t care about.

In Duckworth’s book, her interviews and general research have found that people who are very successful in their careers didn’t simply find their passion from one incident. They discovered tidbits or gained encouragement from loved ones multiple time. As Duckworth puts it: Again, and again, and again. People might be happy to know that there isn’t a specific parenting style, you just shouldn’t devalue or tell your child the interest is bad, if you want to encourage their growth. Moreover, even if a child follows with an activity the parent has misgivings about like joining a music band, evidence shows that sticking to it for more than a year (generally 2 years) is likely to encourage them to stick to future goals when they discover a new passion. In the long term, the “grit” mindset of following through with your intrinsic passion can have long-term benefits. Also, much of the passion and perseverance doesn’t come from pushing through adversity, but rather being encouraged to follow your intrinsic motivation. Children need encouraging parents and teachers, we need encouraging friends, and – most of all – we need a sense that what we’re doing is meaningful for both ourselves and a greater society. I began realizing that a lot of the passion in the passion and perseverance rubric could apply to the immediate feedback loop that video games give people. Generally, we can immediately ascertain gains and losses and the techniques for how to improve are either instructed in the game itself or can be found from tips online. Having a community of friends to talk to about games like Dragon Quest or Dragon Age is self-reinforcing.

I’m somewhat hesitant to jot down a list of the crucial parts of her research, because I’m often afraid that I’m simply not giving this book and it’s author due credit by paraphrasing and potentially taking her out of context. I’m particularly hesitant because of how thoroughly people have insulted caricatures of her work instead of the work itself. When people begin counting terminology and the number of times a word was used, I begin to question whether they had ever even read her book at all. I was really disappointed with so many reviews that conflate Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth’s research with their personality characteristics. This isn’t even isolated to women or even people who exist in the present-day. I just keep spotting this same pattern and when I read someone’s work, it’s largely incredibly different from what accusers espouse that their work  contains. I don’t want to contribute to that form of misinformation, even if subconsciously, and I don’t like taking someone’s words out of context as I see so often done.

I’ll just jot down certain specific quotes that I felt were key points in the book and align them with the overarching information that the book was explaining in bold text so people can judge for themselves.

The major overarching theme is underlined and specifics are placed underneath those umbrella concepts:

Developing a Passionate Interest

How Does Passion Start?

When it comes to lining up our occupations with what we enjoy, how come so many of us miss the mark? And does my dad’s success offer a counterexample to the passion argument? What should we make of the fact that, by the time I came along, my father’s work really was his passion? Should we stop telling people to follow your passion and, instead, tell them to follow our orders? I don’t think so. In fact, I see Will Shortz and Jeff Bezos as terrific inspirations for what work can be. While it’s naive to think that any of us could love every minute of what we do, I believe the thousands of data points in those meta-analyses, which confirm the commonsense intuition that interest matters.

Nobody is interested in everything, and everyone is interested in something. So
matching your job to what captures your attention and imagination is a good idea. It may not guarantee happiness and success, but it sure helps the odds. That said, I don’t think most young people need encouragement to follow their passion. Most would do exactly that—in a heartbeat—if only they had a passion in the first place. If I’m ever invited to give a commencement speech, I’ll begin with the advice to foster a passion. And then I’ll spend the rest of my time trying to change young minds about how that actually happens. -Page 98.

Passion takes time, so give it time:

A few months ago, I read a post on Reddit titled “Fleeting Interest in Everything, No Career Direction”: I’m in my early thirties and have no idea what to do with myself, career-wise. All my life I’ve been one of those people who has been told how smart I am/how much potential I have. I’m interested in so much stuff that I’m paralyzed to try anything. It seems like every job requires a specialized certificate or designation that requires long-term time and financial investment—before you can even try the job, which is a bit of a drag. I have a lot of sympathy for the thirty-something who wrote this post. As a college professor, I also have a lot of sympathy for the twentysomethings who come to me for career advice.

My colleague Barry Schwartz has been dispensing counsel to anxious young adults for much longer than I have. He’s been teaching psychology at Swarthmore College for forty-five years. Barry thinks that what prevents a lot of young people from developing a serious career interest is unrealistic expectations. “It’s really the same problem a lot of young people have finding a romantic partner,” he said. “They want somebody who’s really attractive and smart and kind and empathetic and thoughtful and funny. Try telling a twenty-one-year-old that you can’t find a person who is absolutely the best in every way. They don’t listen. They’re holding out for perfection.” “What about your wonderful wife, Myrna?” I asked. “Oh, she is wonderful. More wonderful than I am, certainly. But is she perfect? Is she the only person I could have made a happy life with? Am I the only man in the world with whom she could have made a wonderful marriage? I don’t think so.” A related problem, Barry says, is the mythology that falling in love with a career should be sudden and swift: “There are a lot of things where the subtleties and exhilarations come with sticking with it for a while, getting elbow-deep into something. A lot of things seem uninteresting and superficial until you start doing them and, after a while, you realize that there are so many facets you didn’t know at the start, and you never can fully solve the problem, or fully understand it, or what have you. Well, that requires that you stick with it.” After a pause, Barry said, “Actually, finding a mate is the perfect analogy. Meeting a potential match—not the one-and-only perfect match, but a promising one—is only the very beginning.”

Interest, Discovery, Successive Rediscovery, and Positive Feedback from Loved Ones:

To the thirty-something on Reddit with a “fleeting interest in everything” and “no career direction,” here’s what science has to say: passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening. Let me explain. First of all, childhood is generally far too early to know what we want to be when we grow up. Longitudinal studies following thousands of people across time have shown that most people only begin to gravitate toward certain vocational interests, and away from others, around middle school.

This is certainly the pattern I’ve seen in my interview research, and it’s also what journalist Hester Lacey has found in her interviews with the “mega successful.” Keep in mind, however, that a seventh grader—even a future paragon of grit—is unlikely to have a fully articulated passion at that age. A seventh grader is just beginning to figure out her general likes and dislikes.

Second, interests are not discovered through introspection. Instead, interests are triggered by interactions with the outside world. The process of interest discovery can be messy, serendipitous, and inefficient. This is because you can’t really predict with certainty what will capture your attention and what won’t. You can’t simply will yourself to like things, either. As Jeff Bezos has observed, “One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves.” Without experimenting, you can’t figure out which interests will stick, and which won’t. Paradoxically, the initial discovery of an interest often goes unnoticed by the discoverer. In other words, when you just start to get interested in something, you may not even realize that’s what’s happening. The emotion of boredom is always self-conscious—you know it when you feel it—but when your attention is attracted to a new activity or experience, you may have very little reflective appreciation of what’s happening to you. This means that, at the start of a new endeavor, asking yourself nervously every few days whether you’ve found your passion is premature.

Third, what follows the initial discovery of an interest is a much lengthier and increasingly proactive period of interest development. Crucially, the initial triggering of a new interest must be followed by subsequent encounters that retrigger your attention—again and again and again.

For instance, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins told me that it was watching space shuttle launches on television in high school that initially inspired his lifelong interest in space travel. But it wasn’t just one launch that hooked him. It was several shown in succession over a period of years. Soon enough, he started digging for more information on NASA, and “one piece of information led to another and another.”

For master potter Warren MacKenzie, ceramics class in college—which he only took, initially, because all the painting classes were full—was followed by the discovery of A Potter’s Book by the great Bernard Leach, and then a year-long internship with Leach himself.

Finally, interests thrive when there is a crew of encouraging supporters, including parents, teachers, coaches, and peers. Why are other people so important? For one thing, they provide the ongoing stimulation and information that is essential to actually liking something more and more. Also—more obviously—positive feedback makes us feel happy, competent, and secure. Take Marc Vetri as an example. There are few things I enjoy reading more than his cookbooks and essays about food, but he was a solid-C student throughout school. “I never worked hard at academics,” he told me. “I was always just like, ‘This is kind of boring.’ ” In contrast, Marc spent delightful
Sunday afternoons at his Sicilian grandmother’s house in South Philly. “She’d make meatballs and lasagna and all that stuff, and I always liked to head down early to help her out. By the time I was eleven or so, I started wanting to make that stuff at home, too.” As a teenager, Marc had a part-time job washing dishes in a local restaurant. “And I loved that. I worked hard.” Why? Making money was one motivation, but another was the camaraderie of the kitchen. “Around that time I was sort of a social outcast. I was kind of awkward. I had a stutter. Everyone at school thought I was weird. I was like, ‘Oh, here I can wash dishes, and I can watch the guys on the line [cooking] while I’m washing, and I can eat. Everyone is nice, and they like me.’ ”

If you read Marc’s cookbooks, you’ll be struck by how many friends and mentors he’s made in the world of food. Page through and look for pictures of Marc alone, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find many. And read the acknowledgments of Il Viaggio Di Vetri. It runs to two pages with the names of people who made his journey possible, including this note: “Mom and Dad, you’ve always let me find my own way and helped guide me through it. You’ll never know how much I appreciate it. I’ll always need you.” Is it “a drag” that passions don’t come to us all at once, as epiphanies, without the need to actively develop them? Maybe. But the reality is that our early interests are fragile, vaguely defined, and in need of energetic, years-long cultivation and refinement. – Page 103.

Don’t Rush a Passion:

For now, what I hope to convey is that experts and beginners have different motivational needs. At the start of an endeavor, we need encouragement and freedom to figure out what we enjoy. We need small wins. We need applause. Yes, we can handle a tincture of criticism and corrective feedback. Yes, we need to practice. But not too much and not too soon. Rush a beginner and you’ll bludgeon their budding interest. It’s very, very hard to get that back once you do. – Page 108.

Helpful tips to develop a Passion for Young Adults and Adults:

If you’d like to follow your passion but haven’t yet fostered one, you must begin at the beginning: discovery. Ask yourself a few simple questions: What do I like to think about? Where does my mind wander? What do I really care about? What matters most to me? How do I enjoy spending my time? And, in contrast, what do I find absolutely unbearable? If you find it hard to answer these questions, try recalling your teen years, the stage of life at which vocational interests commonly sprout. As soon as you have even a general direction in mind, you must trigger your nascent interests. Do this by going out into the world and doing something. To young graduates wringing their hands over what to do, I say, Experiment! Try! You’ll certainly learn more than if you don’t!

At this early stage of exploration, here are a few relevant rules of thumb taken from Will Shortz’s essay “How to Solve the New York Times Crossword Puzzle”: Begin with the answers you’re surest of and build from there. However ill-defined your interests, there are some things you know you’d hate doing for a living, and some things that seem more promising than others. That’s a start. Don’t be afraid to guess. Like it or not, there’s a certain amount of trial and error inherent in the process of interest discovery. Unlike the answers to crossword puzzles, there isn’t just one thing you can do that might develop into a passion. There are many. You don’t have to find the “right” one, or even the “best” one—just a direction that feels good. It can also be difficult to know if something will be a good fit until you try it for a while. Don’t be afraid to erase an answer that isn’t working out.

At some point, you may choose to write your top-level goal in indelible ink, but until you know for sure, work in pencil. If, on the other hand, you already have a good sense of what you enjoy spending your time doing, it’s time to develop your interest. After discovery comes development. Remember that interests must be triggered again and again and again. Find ways to make that happen. And have patience. The development of interests takes time. Keep asking questions, and let the answers to those questions lead you to more questions. Continue to dig. Seek out other people who share your interests. Sidle up to an encouraging mentor. Whatever your age, over time your role as a learner will become a more active and informed one. Over a period of years, your knowledge and expertise will grow, and along with it your confidence and curiosity to know more. Finally, if you’ve been doing something you like for a few years and still wouldn’t quite call it a passion, see if you can deepen your interests. Since novelty is what your brain craves, you’ll be tempted to move on to something new, and that could be what makes the most sense. However, if you want to stay engaged for more than a few years in any endeavor, you’ll need to find a way to enjoy the nuances that only a true aficionado can appreciate. “The old in the new is what claims the attention,” said William James. “The old with a slightly new turn.” In sum, the directive to follow your passion is not bad advice. But what may be even more useful is to understand how passions are fostered in the first place. – Page 114.

Gritty Journalist Anecdote; Passion as a Compass:

‘Screw it, this is what I’m going to do.’ I set out a very deliberate path that was possible, because the journalism industry was very hierarchical, and it was clear how to get from A to B to C to D, et cetera.” Step A was writing for Oxford’s student newspaper, Cherwell. Step B was a summer internship at a small paper in Wisconsin. Step C was the St. Petersburg Times in Florida on the Metro beat. Step D was the Los Angeles Times. Step E was the New York Times as a national correspondent in Atlanta. Step F was being sent overseas to cover war stories, and in 2006—just over a decade since he’d set himself the goal—he finally reached step G: becoming the New York Times’ East Africa bureau chief. “It was a really winding road that took me to all kinds of places. And it was difficult, and discouraging, and demoralizing, and scary, and all the rest. But eventually, I got here. I got exactly where I wanted to be.” As for so many other grit paragons, the common metaphor of passion as fireworks doesn’t make sense when you think of what passion means to Jeff Gettleman. Fireworks erupt in a blaze of glory but quickly fizzle, leaving just wisps of smoke and a memory of what was once spectacular. What Jeff’s journey suggests instead is passion as a compass—that thing that takes you some time to build, tinker with, and finally get right, and that then guides you on your long and winding road to where, ultimately, you want to be. Page 60.

Passion as a Compass forming a Life Philosophy:

Pete realized he didn’t have one and needed to: “If I was ever going to get the chance to run an organization again, I would have to be prepared with a philosophy that would drive all my actions.” Pete did a lot of thinking and reflecting: “My life in the next weeks and months was filled with writing notes and filling binders.” At the same time, he was devouring the books of John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach who won a record-setting ten national championships. Like a lot of coaches, Pete had already read Wooden. But this time, he was reading Wooden and understanding, at a much deeper level, what the coaching icon had to say. And the most important thing Wooden said was that, though a team has to do a million things well, figuring out the overarching vision is of utmost importance. Pete realized in that moment that particular goals—winning a particular game, or even a seasonal championship, or figuring out this element of the offensive lineup, or the way to talk to players—needed coordination, needed purpose: “A clear, well-defined philosophy gives you the guidelines and boundaries that keep you on track,” he said. Page 61.

Having a Life Philosophy

Goal-Oriented Passion:

At the bottom of this hierarchy are our most concrete and specific goals—the tasks we have on our short-term todo list: I want to get out the door today by eight a.m. I want to call my business partner back. I want to finish writing the email I started yesterday. These low-level goals exist merely as means to ends. We want to accomplish them only because they get us something else we want. In contrast, the higher the goal in this hierarchy, the more abstract, general, and important it is. The higher the goal, the more it’s an end in itself, and the less it’s merely a means to an end. In the diagram I’ve sketched out here, there are just three levels. That’s an oversimplification. Between the lowest and the highest level might be several layers of mid-level goals. For instance, getting out the door by eight a.m. is a low-level goal. It only matters because of a mid-level goal: arriving at work on time. Why do you care about that? Because you want to be punctual. Why do you care about that? Because being punctual shows respect for the people with whom you work. Why is that important? Because you strive to be a good leader. If in the course of asking yourself these “Why?” questions your answer is simply “Just because!” then you know you’ve gotten to the top of a goal hierarchy.

The top-level goal is not a means to any other end. It is, instead, an end in itself. Some psychologists like to call this an “ultimate concern.” Myself, I think of this top-level goal as a compass that gives direction and meaning to all the goals below it. – Pg. 62.

Prioritize Your Goals:

What I mean by passion is not just that you have something you care about. What I mean is that you care about that same ultimate goal in an abiding, loyal, steady way. You are not capricious. Each day, you wake up thinking of the questions you fell asleep thinking about. You are, in a sense, pointing in the same direction, ever eager to take even the smallest step forward than to take a step to the side, toward some other destination. At the extreme, one might call your focus obsessive. Most of your actions derive their significance from their allegiance to your ultimate concern, your life philosophy. You have your priorities in order. -Page 64.

Forming Your Goal Hierarchy:

Grit is about holding the same top-level goal for a very long time. Furthermore, this “life philosophy,” as Pete Carroll might put it, is so interesting and important that it organizes a great deal of your waking activity. In very gritty people, most mid-level and low-level goals are, in some way or another, related to that ultimate goal. In contrast, a lack of grit can come from having less coherent goal structures. Here are a few ways a lack of grit can show itself. I’ve met many young people who can articulate a dream—for example, to be a doctor or to play basketball in the NBA—and can vividly imagine how wonderful that would be, but they can’t point to the midlevel and lower-level goals that will get them there. Their goal hierarchy has a top-level goal but no supporting
mid-level or low-level goals: This is what my good friend and fellow psychologist Gabriele Oettingen calls “positive fantasizing.” Gabriele’s research suggests that indulging in visions of a positive future without figuring out how to get there, chiefly by considering what obstacles stand in the way, has short-term payoffs but long-term costs. In the short-term, you feel pretty great about your aspiration to be a doctor. In the long-term, you live with the disappointment of not having achieved your goal. Even more common, I think, is having a bunch of mid-level goals that don’t correspond to any unifying, top-level goal: Or having a few competing goal hierarchies that aren’t in any way connected with each other: To some extent, goal conflict is a necessary feature
of human existence. For instance, I have one goal hierarchy as a professional and another as a mother. Even Tom Seaver admits that the travel and practice schedule of a professional baseball player made it hard to spend as much time with his wife and children as he would have liked. So, though pitching was his professional passion, there were other goal hierarchies that obviously mattered to him. Like Seaver, I have one goal hierarchy for work: Use psychological science to help kids thrive. But I have a separate goal hierarchy that involves being the best mother I can be to my two daughters. As any working parent knows, having two “ultimate concerns” isn’t easy. There seems never to be enough time, energy, or attention to go around. I’ve decided to live with that tension. As a young woman, I considered alternatives—not having my career or not raising a family—and decided that, morally, there was no “right decision,” only a decision that was right for me. So, the idea that every waking moment in our lives should be guided by one top-level goal is an idealized extreme that may not be
desirable even for the grittiest of us. Still, I would argue that it’s possible to pare down long lists of mid-level and low-level work goals according to how they serve a goal of supreme importance. And I think one top-level professional goal, rather than any other number, is ideal. In sum, the more unified, aligned, and coordinated our goal hierarchies, the better.

Assessing Goals:

Indeed, giving up on lower-level goals is not only forgivable, it’s sometimes absolutely necessary. You should give up when one lower-level goal can be swapped for another that is more feasible. It also makes sense to switch your path when a different lower-level goal—a different means to the same end—is just more efficient, or more fun, or for whatever reason makes more sense than your original plan. On any long journey, detours are to be expected. However, the higher-level the goal, the more it makes sense to be stubborn. Personally, I try not to get too hung up on a particular rejected grant application, academic paper, or failed experiment. The pain of those failures is real, but I don’t dwell on them for long before moving on. In contrast, I don’t give up as easily on mid-level goals, and frankly, I can’t imagine anything that would change my ultimate aim, my life philosophy, as Pete might say. My compass, once I found all the parts and put it together, keeps pointing me in the same direction, week after month after year.

Inculcating Grit Habits to Form Grit Culture

Positive Self-Talk:

Carol also explains that the brain is remarkably adaptive. Like a muscle that gets stronger with use, the brain changes itself when you struggle to master a new challenge. In fact, there’s never a time in life when the brain is completely “fixed.” Instead, all our lives, our neurons retain the potential to grow new connections with one another and to strengthen the ones we already have. What’s more, throughout adulthood, we maintain the ability to grow myelin, a sort of insulating sheath that protects neurons and speeds signals traveling between them. My next suggestion is to practice optimistic self-talk. The link between cognitive behavioral therapy and learned helplessness led to the development of “resilience training.” In essence, this interactive curriculum is a preventative dose of cognitive behavioral therapy. In one study, children who completed this training showed lower levels of pessimism and developed fewer symptoms of depression over the next two years. In a similar study, pessimistic college students demonstrated less anxiety over the subsequent two years and less depression over three years. If, reading this chapter, you recognize yourself as an extreme pessimist, my advice is to find a cognitive behavioral therapist. I know how unsatisfying this recommendation might sound. Many years ago, as a teenager, I wrote to Dear Abby about a problem I was having. “Go see a therapist,” she wrote back. I recall tearing up her letter, angry she didn’t propose a neater, faster, more straightforward solution. Nevertheless, suggesting that reading twenty pages about the science of hope is enough to remove an ingrained pessimistic bias would be naive. There’s much more to say about cognitive behavioral therapy and resilience training than I can summarize here. The point is that you can, in fact, modify your self-talk, and you can learn to not let it interfere with you moving toward your goals. With practice and guidance, you can change the way you think, feel, and, most important, act when the going gets rough. As a transition to the final section of this book, “Growing Grit from the Outside In,” let me offer one final suggestion for teaching yourself hope: Ask for a helping hand. A few years ago, I met a retired mathematician named Rhonda Hughes. Nobody in Rhonda’s family had gone to college, but as a girl, she liked math a whole lot more than stenography. Rhonda eventually earned a PhD in mathematics and, after seventy-nine of her eighty applications for a faculty position were rejected, she took a job at the single university that made her an offer. One reason Rhonda got in touch was to tell me that she had an issue with an item on the Grit Scale. “I don’t like that item that says, ‘Setbacks don’t discourage me.’ That makes no sense. I mean, who doesn’t get discouraged by setbacks? I certainly do. I think it should say, ‘Setbacks don’t discourage me for long. I get back on my feet.’  ” Of course, Rhonda was right, and in so many words, I changed the item accordingly. But the most important thing about Rhonda’s story is that she almost never got back up all by herself. Instead, she figured out that asking for help was a good way to hold on to hope.

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (pp. 192-194). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Learned Industriousness:

So, it appears that sometimes what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and sometimes it does the opposite. The urgent question becomes: When? When does struggle lead to hope, and when does struggle lead to hopelessness? A few years ago, Steve Maier and his students designed an experiment nearly identical to the one he and Marty Seligman had conducted forty years earlier: One group of rats received electric shocks, but if they turned a small wheel with their front paws, they could turn off the shock until the next trial. A second group received the exact same dose of electric shocks as the first but had no control over their duration. One crucial difference was that, in the new experiment, the rats were only five weeks old— that’s adolescence in the rat life cycle. A second difference was that the effects of this experience were assessed five weeks later, when the rats were fully mature adults. At that point, both groups of rats were subjected to uncontrollable electric shocks and, the next day, observed in a social exploration test. Here’s what Steve learned. Adolescent rats who experienced stress they could not control grew up to be adult rats who, after being subjected to uncontrollable shocks a second time, behaved timidly. This was not unusual— they learned to be helpless in the same way that any other rat would. In contrast, adolescent rats who experienced stress they could control grew up to be more adventurous and, most astounding, appeared to be inoculated against learned helplessness in adulthood. That’s right— when these “resilient rats” grew up, the usual uncontrollable shock procedures no longer made them helpless. In other words, what didn’t kill the young rats, when by their own efforts they could control what was happening, made them stronger for life.

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (pp. 187-188). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Because his wife was a teacher, Bob had the opportunity to try short-term versions of the same experiments with children. For instance, in one study, he gave pennies to second and third graders for counting objects, memorizing pictures, and matching shapes. For some children, Bob rapidly increased the difficulty of these tasks as the children improved. Other children were repeatedly given easy versions of the same tasks. All the children got pennies and praise. Afterward, the children in both conditions were asked to do a tedious job that was entirely different from the previous tasks: copying a list of words onto a sheet of paper. Bob’s findings were exactly the same as what he’d found with rats: children who’d trained on difficult (rather than easy) tasks worked harder on the copying task. Bob’s conclusion? With practice, industriousness can be learned. In homage to the earlier work of Seligman and Maier on learned helplessness, where the inability to escape punishment led animals to give up on a second challenging task, Bob dubbed this phenomenon learned industriousness. His major conclusion was simply that the association between working hard and reward can be learned. Bob will go further and say that without directly experiencing the connection between effort and reward, animals, whether they’re rats or people, default to laziness. Calorie-burning effort is, after all, something evolution has shaped us to avoid whenever possible.

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (pp. 239-240). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Deliberate Practice and The Hard Thing Rule:

In our family, we live by the Hard Thing Rule. It has three parts. The first is that everyone— including Mom and Dad— has to do a hard thing. A hard thing is something that requires daily deliberate practice. I’ve told my kids that psychological research is my hard thing, but I also practice yoga. Dad tries to get better and better at being a real estate developer; he does the same with running. My oldest daughter, Amanda, has chosen playing the piano as her hard thing. She did ballet for years, but later quit. So did Lucy. This brings me to the second part of the Hard Thing Rule: You can quit. But you can’t quit until the season is over, the tuition payment is up, or some other “natural” stopping point has arrived. You must, at least for the interval to which you’ve committed yourself, finish whatever you begin. In other words, you can’t quit on a day when your teacher yells at you, or you lose a race, or you have to miss a sleepover because of a recital the next morning. You can’t quit on a bad day. And, finally, the Hard Thing Rule states that you get to pick your hard thing. Nobody picks it for you because, after all, it would make no sense to do a hard thing you’re not even vaguely interested in. Even the decision to try ballet came after a discussion of various other classes my daughters could have chosen instead. Lucy, in fact, cycled through a half-dozen hard things. She started each with enthusiasm but eventually discovered that she didn’t want to keep going with ballet, gymnastics, track, handicrafts, or piano. In the end, she landed on viola. She’s been at it for three years, during which time her interest has waxed rather than waned. Last year, she joined the school and all-city orchestras, and when I asked her recently if she wanted to switch her hard thing to something else, she looked at me like I was crazy. Next year, Amanda will be in high school. Her sister will follow the year after. At that point, the Hard Thing Rule will change. A fourth requirement will be added: each girl must commit to at least one activity, either something new or the piano and viola they’ve already started, for at least two years. Tyrannical? I don’t believe it is. And if Lucy’s and Amanda’s recent comments on the topic aren’t disguised apple-polishing, neither do my daughters. They’d like to grow grittier as they get older, and, like any skill, they know grit takes practice. They know they’re fortunate to have the opportunity to do so. For parents who would like to encourage grit without obliterating their children’s capacity to choose their own path, I recommend the Hard Thing Rule.

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (pp. 241-242). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Grit Culture:

How do you know you’re part of a culture that, in a very real sense, has become part of you? When you adopt a culture, you make a categorical allegiance to that in-group. You’re not “sort of” a Seahawk, or “sort of” a West Pointer. You either are or you aren’t. You’re in the group, or out of it. You can use a noun, not just an adjective or a verb, to describe your commitment. So much depends, as it turns out, on which in-group you commit to. The bottom line on culture and grit is: If you want to be grittier, find a gritty culture and join it. If you’re a leader, and you want the people in your organization to be grittier, create a gritty culture.

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (p. 245). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Internalized Grit Culture:

Short-term conformity effects are not what excite me about the power of culture to influence grit. Not exactly. What excites me most is the idea that, in the long run, culture has the power to shape our identity. Over time and under the right circumstances, the norms and values of the group to which we belong become our own. We internalize them. We carry them with us. The way we do things around here and why eventually becomes The way I do things and why. Identity influences every aspect of our character, but it has special relevance to grit. Often, the critical gritty-or-not decisions we make— to get up one more time; to stick it out through this miserable, exhausting summer; to run five miles with our teammates when on our own we might only run three— are a matter of identity more than anything else. Often, our passion and perseverance do not spring from a cold, calculating analysis of the costs and benefits of alternatives. Rather, the source of our strength is the person we know ourselves to be.

James March, an expert on decision making at Stanford University, explains the difference this way: Sometimes, we revert to cost-benefit analyses to make choices. Of course, March doesn’t mean that, in deciding what to order for lunch or when to go to bed, we take out a pad of paper and a calculator. What he means is that, sometimes when making choices, we take into consideration how we might benefit, and what we’ll have to pay, and how likely it is that these benefits and costs will be what we think they’ll be. We can do all of this in our heads, and indeed, when I’m deciding what to order for lunch or when to go to bed, I often think through the pros and the cons before making a decision. It’s very logical. But other times, March says, we don’t think through the consequences of our actions at all. We don’t ask ourselves: What are the benefits? What are the costs? What are the risks? Instead, we ask ourselves: Who am I? What is this situation? What does someone like me do in a situation like this?

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (pp. 247-248). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

How to Begin Grit Oriented Behavior:

First, thinking of yourself as someone who is able to overcome tremendous adversity often leads to behavior that confirms that self-conception. If you’re a Finn with that “sisu spirit,” you get up again no matter what. Likewise, if you’re a Seattle Seahawk, you’re a competitor. You have what it takes to succeed. You don’t let setbacks hold you back. Grit is who you are. Second, even if the idea of an actual inner energy source is preposterous, the metaphor couldn’t be more apt. It sometimes feels like we have nothing left to give, and yet, in those dark and desperate moments, we find that if we just keep putting one foot in front of the other, there is a way to accomplish what all reason seems to argue against.

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (p. 252). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Grit Culture Anecdotes:

“You have to learn to get over bumps in the road and mistakes and setbacks,” he told me when I called to talk about the culture he’s built at JPMorgan Chase. “Failures are going to happen, and how you deal with them may be the most important thing in whether you succeed. You need fierce resolve. You need to take responsibility. You call it grit. I call it fortitude.” Fortitude is to Jamie Dimon what sisu is to Finland. Jamie recalls that getting fired from Citibank at age forty-two, and then taking a full year to ponder what lessons to take from the episode, made him a better leader. And he believes in fortitude enough to make it a core value for the entire JPMorgan Chase bank. “The ultimate thing is that we need to grow over time.”

Is it really possible, I asked, for a leader to influence the culture of such an enormous corporation? True, the culture of JPMorgan Chase has, with some affection, been described as “the cult of Jamie.” But there are literally thousands and thousands of JPMorgan Chase employees Jamie has never met in person. “Absolutely,” Jamie says. “It takes relentless— absolutely relentless— communication. It’s what you say and how you say it.” It may also be how often you say it. By all accounts, Jamie is a tireless evangelist, crossing the country to appear at what he calls town hall meetings with his employees. At one meeting he was asked, “What do you look for in your leadership team?” His answer? “Capability, character, and how they treat people.” Later, he told me that he asks himself two questions about senior management. First: “Would I let them run the business without me?” Second: “Would I let my kids work for them?”

Jamie has a favorite Teddy Roosevelt quote he likes to repeat: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. And here is how Jamie translates the poetry of Roosevelt into the prose of a JPMorgan Chase manual, titled How We Do Business: “Have a fierce resolve in everything you do.” “Demonstrate determination, resiliency, and tenacity.” “Do not let temporary setbacks become permanent excuses.” And, finally, “Use mistakes and problems as opportunities to get better— not reasons to quit.”

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (pp. 253-254). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Final Thoughts on Grit

This book has been my way of taking you out for a coffee and telling you what I know. I’m almost done. Let me close with a few final thoughts. The first is that you can grow your grit. I see two ways to do so. On your own, you can grow your grit “from the inside out”: You can cultivate your interests. You can develop a habit of daily challenge-exceeding-skill practice. You can connect your work to a purpose beyond yourself. And you can learn to hope when all seems lost. You can also grow your grit “from the outside in.” Parents, coaches, teachers, bosses, mentors, friends— developing your personal grit depends critically on other people.

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (p. 269). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Limitations of Grit:

As a psychologist, I can confirm that grit is far from the only— or even the most important— aspect of a person’s character. In fact, in studies of how people size up others, morality trumps all other aspects of character in importance. Sure, we take notice if our neighbors seem lazy, but we’re especially offended if they seem to lack qualities like honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. So, grit isn’t everything. There are many other things a person needs in order to grow and flourish. Character is plural. One way to think about grit is to understand how it relates to other aspects of character. In assessing grit along with other virtues, I find three reliable clusters. I refer to them as the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intellectual dimensions of character. You could also call them strengths of will, heart, and mind. Intrapersonal character includes grit. This cluster of virtues also includes self-control, particularly as it relates to resisting temptations like texting and video games. What this means is that gritty people tend to be self-controlled and vice versa. Collectively, virtues that make possible the accomplishment of personally valued goals have also been called “performance character” or “self-management skills.” Social commentator and journalist David Brooks calls these “resume virtues” because they’re the sorts of things that get us hired and keep us employed. Interpersonal character includes gratitude, social intelligence, and self-control over emotions like anger. These virtues help you get along with— and provide assistance to— other people. Sometimes, these virtues are referred to as “moral character.” David Brooks prefers the term “eulogy virtues” because, in the end, they may be more important to how people remember us than anything else. When we speak admiringly of someone being a “deeply good” person, I think it’s this cluster of virtues we’re thinking about. And, finally, intellectual character includes virtues like curiosity and zest. These encourage active and open engagement with the world of ideas. My longitudinal studies show these three virtue clusters predict different outcomes. For academic achievement, including stellar report card grades, the cluster containing grit is the most predictive. But for positive social functioning, including how many friends you have, interpersonal character is more important. And for a positive, independent posture toward learning, intellectual virtue trumps the others. In the end, the plurality of character operates against any one virtue being uniquely important.

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (pp. 273-274). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Effort Counts Twice:

If you define genius as being able to accomplish great things in life without effort, then he was right: I’m no genius, and neither is he. But if, instead, you define genius as working toward excellence, ceaselessly, with every element of your being— then, in fact, my dad is a genius, and so am I, and so is Coates, and, if you’re willing, so are you.

Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (p. 278). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Overall, I enjoyed her book thoroughly, but I couldn’t personally identify with the parenting chapter and the chapter after it seemed like it was simply filling space with anecdotes. Angela Duckworth seems to write in a journalistic fashion just like Carol Dweck, they both utilize anecdotes to give people a more impressionable affect and it probably helps the average reader to remember more. I prefer Heidi Grant Halvorson’s more personalized writing style where she presents the reader with questionable assumptions about life and then presents the evidence to explain the reasoning behind why the research is valuable and how it can improve lives.

With all that said and shown, I give Angela Duckworth’s book:

9.7/10

Discover Your Genius by Gerald Sindell

This 11-step guidebook is a complete disappointment. I had foolishly considered the notion that perhaps a book that didn’t use statistical evidence or clinical psychological trials might hold some kernel of wisdom. After all, philosophers and Eastern religious texts offer interesting insights that I find worth consideration. To off-set the chance of disappointment, I had opened the book to a random part and read a bit. It seemed good enough, but I was proved to be thoroughly foolish for taking a small part and thinking the greater whole would offer just as much in terms of interesting insights.

That portion I had opened-up to read at the store I bought it from was the only interesting aspect. Everything else was garbage. I find the ideas too vague and poorly formed to apply to anything meaningful. The concept of raw ideas is just so groundless and ineffectual in conceptualization. A major flaw in this book is that the author assumes knowledge of various fields as examples and then presents his ideas on how they could work purely from his imagination. No attempt at reading or learning about these particular fields that he has no knowledge of but uses as examples and no attempt at understanding how to apply the specifics of what he’s talking about before posing these vacuous generalizations on fields that he’s ignorant of.

To add to the folly of this book, he sometimes goes into off-topic rants in the middle of certain chapters. It really feels as if this book was a rough draft of ideas that he didn’t pay any clear attention to or even think hard about distinguishing.

0/10. A complete flop.