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Thinking About Not-Knowing: Fear is the Mindkiller

March 16, 2023 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm CET

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This salon by Vaughn Tan (@vaughn_tan) is a deep dive into the complicated emotional backdrop for why we don’t think clearly about situations of not-knowing. Untangling why not-knowing feels so bad is the first step to learning how to deal with not-knowing properly.

This salon is part of his InterIntellect series and broader project on not-knowing.

The pre-reading for this salon is a short text (10 min read or less): “Why not-knowing feels so hard.”

Here’s a bit more background:

  1. We evolved to respond physiologically to situations of not-knowing as if they are stressors. When we confront not-knowing, stress hormones flood our bodies, and our hearts race, our breathing speeds up, we focus on the immediate present so that we are ready to fight or flee. This bodily state of high alert was useful for survival thousands of years ago.
  2. Social and cultural norms teach us to perceive this high alert state as “bad” for some of the most important situations of not-knowing we face. Unfortunately these seem to be situations where facing up to not-knowing is most important for dealing with it properly or even growing/profiting from it — like leadership, navigating a career, or learning. Society teaches us that the bodily feeling of being on high alert is to be given the label of “bad,” which then pushes us to pretend to be certain (even when we aren’t) or even to pretend that the situations we face are certain (even when they’re not).
  3. The combination of evolved response and sociocultural conditioning is a powerful blocker that prevents us from thinking clearly and acting properly in some of the most important situations of not-knowing we face.

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March 16, 2023
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm CET
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Vaughn Tan


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