Hello and welcome to today’s podcast where we will discuss the self-help book “What’s Our Problem?: A Self-Help Book for Societies” by Tim Urban. This book provides a framework for understanding human behavior in a society and addresses the current tribalism, hatred, and lack of objective truth in our world. It aims to help people think more critically and engage in high-rung thinking, rather than low-rung thinking.
Tim Urban introduces a new way of looking at people’s beliefs by creating a graph that has two axes: the x-axis for what you think and the y-axis for how you came to that belief. The x-axis ranges from super-progressive to super-conservative, while the y-axis ranges from low-rung thinking to high-rung thinking.
Low-rung thinking is trash, according to Tim. It involves no first principles or reasoning, and people with low-rung thinking are unwilling to change their beliefs, even if they are presented with evidence that contradicts their views. High-rung thinking, on the other hand, is thinking like a scientist. It involves looking for the truth, experimenting with ideas, and being open to dissent and criticism. High-rung thinkers are always looking to improve their ideas and to learn from others.
The graph created by Tim allows us to visualize where people’s beliefs fall on the progressive-conservative spectrum and how they arrived at those beliefs. Ultimately, what matters is where people fall on the y-axis, with high-rung thinking being the goal.
Tim uses the graph to illustrate the difference between low-rung and high-rung thinking on a super-progressive belief like open immigration. A low-rung thinker who holds this belief likely does so because of the media echo chamber they’re in and does not have a deep understanding of immigration. They are unwilling to change their belief, even if presented with evidence that contradicts it. In contrast, a high-rung thinker who holds the same belief has a more informed and nuanced understanding of immigration and is open to changing their view if new information arises.
The book also addresses Social Justice Fundamentalism, or “wokeness,” as Tim calls it. He argues that today’s social justice movement is illiberal and authoritarian, and it often employs low-rung thinking. In contrast, traditional liberal social justice fought for the “little guy” with the first amendment as its primary tool, using the marketplace of ideas and inclusive messaging to make once-taboo ideas become mainstream.
Overall, “What’s Our Problem?” provides a much-needed framework for understanding human behavior in a society and encourages high-rung thinking as the way forward. By being open to new ideas, engaging in critical thinking, and challenging our own beliefs, we can create a better future for ourselves and for society. Thank you for listening.