•  3 min read

Opinions, Pizza and Mr Rogers

I'm running a bit behind this week, so am going to keep it short and sweet. Let's lead off with an article where they kind of give the game away in the title: People who think their opinions are superior to others are most  prone to overestimating their relevant knowledge and ignoring chances to  learn more:

Across five studies Hall and Raimi found that those people with the  highest belief superiority also tended to have the largest gap between  their perceived and actual knowledge – the belief superior consistently  suffered from the illusion that they were better informed than they  were. As you might expect, those with the lowest belief superiority  tended to underestimate how much they knew.

Next up, while I don't agree with the assertion that New York is becoming boring, there are some very good points raised in this article about my adopted home city.

By trying to improve our cities, we have only succeeded in making them  empty simulacra of what was. To bring this about we have signed on to  political scams and mindless development schemes that are so exclusive  they are more destructive than all they were supposed to improve.

While we're on the topic of New York (but on a more positive note), Eater has a guide to the different kinds of pizza y0u can get in the city. I plan on sampling as many of these as I can.

I didn't grow up in the US, so Mr Rogers' Neighborhood isn't something I know much about, but after seeing a few trailers for Won't You Be My Neighbor? I have a bit of a handle on the phenomenon. And after reading through his rules for talking to children, I have a whole new respect for the man and his attention to detail. His steps for articulating things to avoid any kind of misunderstanding or implied value judgements (they called it translating into "Freddish"!) is inspired:

  1. “State the idea you wish to express as clearly as possible, and in terms preschoolers can understand.” Example: It is dangerous to play in the street.
  2. “Rephrase in a positive manner,” as in It is good to play where it is safe.
  3. “Rephrase the idea, bearing in mind that preschoolers cannot yet make subtle distinctions and need to be redirected to authorities they trust.” As in, “Ask your parents where it is safe to play.”
  4. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate all elements that could be considered prescriptive, directive, or instructive.” In the example, that’d mean getting rid of “ask”: Your parents will tell you where it is safe to play.
  5. “Rephrase any element that suggests certainty.” That’d be “will”:* Your parents can tell you where it is safe to play.*
  6. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate any element that may not apply to all children.” Not all children know their parents, so:* Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play.*
  7. “Add a simple motivational idea that gives preschoolers a reason to follow your advice.” Perhaps: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is good to listen to them.
  8. “Rephrase your new statement, repeating the first step.” “Good” represents a value judgment, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them.
  9. “Rephrase your idea a final time, relating it to some phase of development a preschooler can understand.” Maybe: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them, and listening is an important part of growing.

So much of our communication as adults is incredibly opaque and prone to misunderstanding that—despite being intended for pre-school aged children—I think this approach would benefit a lot of adults, too.

And to wrap up,  it's things like this that make me glad that George Lucas sold Lucasfilm (and more importantly, the Star Wars franchise) off to Disney. The prequels weren't great, and this kind of sounds like the downward trajectory would have continued.