Maybe go on a news diet??

by Massimo Pigliucci

These days I’m on a quest for mental tranquillity, what the ancient Greco-Romans called “ataraxia,” or lack of disturbance. Unlike the Epicureans, I don’t take ataraxia to be my chief goal in life — that one remains to be the best human being I can be, as the Stoics counseled. Still, mental tranquillity or serenity are definitely helpful, which is why I recently quit social media altogether, as I’ve explained in a recent essay.

Another thing I determined was definitely getting in the way of my ataraxia was reading the news. So I drastically reduced that as well, going on a fairly strict news diet. Think this is unconscionable and impractical? Hear me out, you may change your mind about it, and in the process perhaps gain some much needed tranquillity.

Mind you, until not long ago I was a self-described news junky. I listened to National Public Radio on a regular basis. I read The New York Times daily. And I frequently checked outlets like the Guardian, BBC News, and the Italian newspapers Repubblica and Corriere della Sera. Plus, of course, assorted articles from other publications that friends, family, and social media followers more or less regularly sent my way. … (continue on Medium)

4 Comments

  1. How about a nature diet?

    High in the Colorado Rockies? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKaL3GpaAXw

    Investigating less-touristy Anasazi sites? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsV2ouqwrks&lc=Ugz8Uv5au0R6Yy2Xwwt4AaABAg

    Seeing cultural fusion of “modern Anasazi” and western music? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73ldPa9GkXA

    Otherwise, don’t stop reading ALL news, says someone in the business. Do take breaks. Do, per the “Serenity Prayer,” focus more on what you might be able to take a small part in changing. (Like climate change and HVAC thermostats. Sidebar: Why do people in Hamburg have air conditioning?) And, focus more on local news.

    As for reading? I scored a haul at the Denton, Texas, library on return from vacation. The last two books (I think, unless I am forgetting one) by alpinist cum-Anasazi enthusiast David Roberts; a great new revisionist history of the American Revolution; a revisionist, America-focused history of Cuba since Columbian contact, a quasi-bio of Dostoyevsky focused on the writing of Crime and Punishment, modern politics yes in a revisionist look at the post-1989 Cold War 2.0 stalemate and a couple of others.

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  2. Massimo, Paul, speaking of new books? That Nick Lane biologist, whose first book “The Vital Question” I have heartily recommended, has a new one out, basically a follow-up to it on the latest thoughts and experiments and research on abiogenesis. “Transformer: The Deep Chemistry of Life and Death.” Quanta has an interview with him. https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-biochemists-view-of-lifes-origin-reframes-cancer-and-aging-20220808/

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    1. I very strongly recommend this book, which I am halfway through reading. Beautifully written; difficult material presented as clearly as seems to me possible. What he has to say about potentials across a membrane is one of the most exciting things I have come across in origins of life study in decades. (Disclosure; I had a small part in Mike Russell’s work, which Lane refers to, while Mike was in Glasgow, but this now goes far beyond anything we at that stage imagined).

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