Medley 238: Public Parks, Q&A, Opiates, Spiritual Superiority, Kayakers, Hip-Hop Quartets...

This is the Monday Medley, a newsletter that goes out, you guessed it, every Monday. I republish it here for sharing and referencing, but if you'd like to sign up you can do so right here:

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Happy Monday!

This week I have a new video on my whole process for reading & easily taking notes from physical books, a Q&A video where I answered a bunch of your questions from Twitter about entrepreneurship, productivity, writing, money, and more, and a video on why & how I quit shampoo 4 years ago.

Alright, on to the Medley

The World of Spirituality

👌🏼 This was another neat study on the "paradox of self enhancement."

"Spiritual training is assumed to reduce self‐enhancement, but may have the paradoxical effect of boosting superiority feelings. It can, thus, operate like other self‐enhancement tools and contribute to a contingent self‐worth that depends on one’s spiritual accomplishments."

💆🏼‍♂️ Despite most promises of spiritual progress as being about decreasing your ego and narcissism, the practice of focusing so much on yourself and comparing your "spiritual progress" to others can develop into its own form of narcissism.

One thing that stood out though is that it depended on what kind of spirituality participants were trained in. Mindfulness, it seems, didn't have as much of an effect as "energetically" trained subjects:

"Spiritual Superiority scores were consistently higher among energetically trained participants than mindfulness trainees and were associated with supernatural overconfidence and self‐ascribed spiritual guidance."

🏋🏼 It all goes back to something I've written about in a number of different ways in the Medley now: the old Gods might be dying, but we've adopted a whole host of new ones, and we're just as condescending about how great our new Gods are as we used to be (looking at you, Crossfit).

Other worthwhile reads on that topic: How We Gather, Crossfit is my Church, and The Use and Abuse of Witchdoctors for Life.

❓ And a good question: who are your gods? Did you pick them? Or were they picked for you by your peers, parents, upbringing, etc.?

The World of Parks

🙅🏼 Shared public places are subject to the "Tragedy of the Commons." When something feels like everyone's responsibility, individuals are less likely to take the responsibility on themselves.

This rather clever research study sought to find ways to fix that problem, and actually had some pretty meaningful insights.

🛶 First up, asking people to nickname a lake they were kayaking on made them significantly more likely to pick up trash:

"Kayakers who gave the lake a nickname felt more ownership of the lake. Most importantly, they were more than five times as likely to try to pick up the planted trash (41% vs. 7% of the other kayakers)."

🏞️ Second, calling a park YOUR park instead of THE park made people more likely to donate:

"...participants imagined taking a walk in a park. They were shown a sign at the park entrance that said either "Welcome to the Park" or "Welcome to YOUR Park." Participants who saw the "YOUR park" sign felt more ownership and responsibility for the park, were more likely to pick up trash, and would donate 34% more to the park ($32.35 vs. $24.08)."

⛷️ Third, asking skiers to plan routes increased donations:

"skiers who planned their routes and therefore felt more ownership donated to the park 2.5 times more often than those who did not plan their routes. They also reported being more likely to volunteer for the park, to donate in the future, and to promote the park on social media."

🌳 And telling someone it was their park, but NOT what their visitor number was, donated more and were more likely to volunteer to help the park:

"As in the prior studies, individuals who felt more ownership of the park donated more to the park. They were also more likely to say that they would volunteer to help the park, including picking up trash. However, these effects were reduced when participants imagined the attendance sign, which possibly suggested the feeling that these other people would take responsibility for the park."

🤔 Will it replicate? Who knows, but intuitively these interventions make sense and might help you subtly influence the actions of others.

The World of Opiates

💊 Another bombshell insight into how McKinsey helped Purdue "turbocharge" opiate sales came out last week. Apparently McKinsey suggested they give opiate distributors a rebate for every overdose attributable to the opiates. Don't worry if you kill anyone, you'll get your money back!

➕ They were even kind enough to do the math for how much money this might mean:

"The presentation estimated how many customers of companies including CVS and Anthem might overdose. It projected that in 2019, for example, 2,484 CVS customers would either have an overdose or develop an opioid use disorder. A rebate of $14,810 per “event” meant that Purdue would pay CVS $36.8 million that year."

The first article in this developing series about McKinsey and Purdue's relationship is worth reading too.

🤐 I for one hope McKinsey gets wrapped into the legal proceedings. They're almost as to blame as Purdue is for the opiod epidemic considering they apparently helped convince Purdue to more aggressively market them:

"Five years earlier, the documents show, they emailed colleagues about a meeting in which McKinsey persuaded the Sacklers to aggressively market OxyContin... The meeting “went very well — the room was filled with only family, including the elder statesman Dr. Raymond,” wrote Mr. Ghatak, referring to Purdue’s co-founder, the physician Raymond Sackler, who would die in 2017... “By the end of the meeting,” he wrote, “the findings were crystal clear to everyone and they gave a ringing endorsement of moving forward fast.”"

📖 If you haven't read it, it's also worth reading the longer piece: "The Family that Built an Empire of Pain." The Sackler family is trying to keep their name hidden in all of this, but that's getting harder and harder for them.

The World of Music

🎤🎵 I didn't know this, but there's a strong root to hip-hop and rap in old barbershop quartets. This performance is really interesting to listen to as an early version of what would later evolve in the 70s as rap.

🎧 And if you haven't seen them, I've really been enjoying these Cercle live sets as background visuals & music while working recently.

End Note

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