Digestable #29: Nonintuitive Parenting Advice, A Wedding Video, Legacy of Jonah, The Case Against Science

Bonjour, mes amis!

Welcome to another edition of Digestable, the short, weekly email where we follow curiosity, tangle with great questions, and watch wedding videos! This email was sent to subscribers on October 31, 2021.

Here’s what’s up this week:

Nonintuitive Parenting Advice: Nat Eliason recently became a new father and asked for nonintuitive parenting advice. It’s a great question that prompted me to think about the advice I’ve collected parenting four kids. Here are a few that have stuck with me:

  1. “Rewards and punishments are just two sides of the same coin — and the coin doesn’t buy very much.” A terrorist can effectively commandeer a plane with a bomb threat, but he shouldn’t expect to have a good relationship with the pilot after they land. Rewards sound kinder, but it feels like a punishment when taken away. What is needed is an alternative to both ways of controlling people, Alfie Kohn explains in his book “Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes.”
  2. The more danger you can safely expose your children to, the safer they will be. Sheltering creates fragility, [appropriate] exposure creates antifragility. Read more about this important term coined by Nassim Taleb in his book, Antifragile.

Read the rest of my list here.

Ariel & Emilie’s Wedding Video: We’ve been waiting on the edge of our seats expecting great things from videographer/photographer Clayton Jackshaw. He did not disappoint.

Lessons From the Belly of a Fish: The ancient story of Jonah offers timeless insights into human nature and a challenge we need to consider. Jonah was afraid when God asked him to travel to the violent capital city of his enemies, Nineveh (the largest city in the world at one point). The unpleasant task? Warn the city’s occupants to repent of their wickedness . . . or face the wrath of God within 40 days.

Understandably, he went the polar opposite direction where he ended up in the belly of a sea creature until he determined to stop running from his calling. But surprisingly, Jonah was not afraid of failure in his task, he was afraid of success. His fear was that he would find influence among his enemies, that they would repent of their violent ways and avert destruction.

When Nineveh surprisingly repented and was spared, Jonah fumed to God. “This is what I tried to forestall by fleeing. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity … I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

The story ends with a final object lesson for Jonah involving a plant and a worm. God uses the plant and the worm to challenge Jonah’s thinking: do we have a right to be angry when something is taken away, when it was never really ours to begin? What is the condition of our own heart when we do not have concern for the wellbeing of our enemies? This short book (four small chapters) only takes a few minutes to read, but its protagonist was significant enough to be referenced in the teachings of Jesus hundreds of years later and even depicted by Michelangelo on the Sistene Chapel ceiling.

Quotes I’m Pondering: These two quotes are from the editors of two of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, The New England Journal of Medicine and, The Lancet.

  • “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as editor of The New England Journal of Medicine” – Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Marcia Angell, and the author of The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It.
  • The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness” – Richard Horton, The Lancet

Where did your curiosity lead you this week? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks again for following along. I’m having a riot putting these together, so if you are enjoying this newsletter I’d love it if you shared it with a friend or two and we can keep the great conversations growing.

Yours truly,

P.S. Throwback to the best Halloween party. The Harvey’s throw the best parties.

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