The Wisdom Chronicle is designed to bring nuggets of wisdom from the dozens of books I read every year. I endeavor to share the best of what I have gleaned. The determination of relevance lies with you. Blessings, J. Whiddon
“You know why it’s called horse sense—they don’t bet on people.”
“Ask an atheist who’s just had a great meal if he believes there’s a cook.”
“A protest march is like a tantrum only better organized.”
“Beware of those who fall at your feet. They may be reaching for the corner of the rug.”
“Some people want to check govt. spending and some people want to spend govt. checks.”
Excerpt From: Reagan, Ronald. “The Notes.”
- “PROGRESS” “In the lexicon of American advertising, “new” is practically a synonym for “improved.”
Celebration of the new over the old easily translates into celebration of the young over the old, of young people over old people. The cult of youth, the celebration of youth for youth’s sake, is more pervasive in the United States than in any other country I have visited. In American cities, I often see billboards promoting plastic surgeons who promise to make you look younger. I have rarely seen such billboards in the United Kingdom or Germany or Switzerland.
When the culture values youth over maturity, the authority of parents is undermined. Young people easily overestimate the importance of youth culture and underestimate the culture of earlier generations. “Why should we have to read Shakespeare?” is a common refrain I hear from American students. “He is so totally irrelevant to, like, everything.
[Modern] “Progress” means, in the final analysis, taking away from man what ennobles him in order to sell him cheaply what debases him.”
Excerpt From: Sax, Leonard. “The Collapse of Parenting.”
- THAT’S RANDOM “Why do we attribute so much importance to “sports momentum” when it’s mostly fiction? Psychology offers an explanation. People tend to ascribe patterns to events. We don’t like mystery. We want to be able to explain what we’re seeing. Randomness and luck resist explanation. We’re uneasy concluding that “stuff happens” even when it might be the best explanation.
What’s more, many of us don’t have a firm grasp of the laws of chance. A classic example: On the first day of class, a math professor asks his students to go home, flip a coin 200 times, and record the sequence of heads and tails. He then warns, “Don’t fake the data, because I’ll know.” Invariably some students choose to fake flipping the coin and make up the results. The professor then amazes the class by identifying the fakers. How? Because those faking the data will record lots of alternations between heads and tails and include no long streaks of one or the other in the erroneous belief that this looks “more random.” Their sequence will resemble this: HTHTHHTHTTHTHT.
But in a truly random sequence of 200 coin tosses, a run of six or seven straight heads or tails is extremely likely: HTTTTTHHTTTHHHHHH.
Counterintuitive? Most of us think the probability of getting six heads or tails in a row is really remote. That’s true if we flip the coin only 6 times, but it’s not true if we flip it 200 times. The chances of flipping 10 heads in a row when you flip the coin only 10 times are very low, about 1 in 1,024. Flip the coin 710 times and the chances of seeing at least one run of 10 straight heads is 50 percent, or one in two.” Excerpt From: Tobias Moskowitz & L. Jon Wertheim. “Scorecasting.”
- DO MORE “Go the extra mile. It is not crowded.” — Unknown
975. THAT’S EASY! “In the Moscow circus a beautiful woman lion tamer would have a fierce lion come to her meekly, put his paws around her and nuzzle her with affection. The crowd thundered its approval. All except an Armenian who declared, “What’s so great about that? Anybody can do that.” The ringmaster challenged him, “Would you like to try it?” The Armenian’s reply came back: “Yes, but first get that lion out of there.”
Excerpt From: Hodgin, Michael. “1001 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking.”
- “Great things never came from comfort zones.” — Unknown
- FORGIVENESS NOW POSSIBLE In anguish over the ravages of civil war, President Abraham Lincoln declared a National Fast Day on March 30, 1863:
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
Excerpt From: Lee, Richard. “In God We Still Trust: A 365-Day Devotional.”
- GOD AND NAZIS “How can I believe in God after the Holocaust?”
“God permitted the Nazis to murder six million Jews because it is a fundamental tenet of Judaism that God gives people moral freedom. Human beings are as free to build gas chambers as they are to build hospitals.
God constructed a world in which people choose to do good or evil. To construct one in which people could do only good, God would have to destroy the world in which we now live and create something entirely different.
We live in a world in which people can do unbelievably beautiful or unbelievably horrible things to other people. And if those horrible acts argue against the existence of God, then the beautiful acts must argue for God’s existence.
If one is to abandon faith in anything after the Holocaust, it would be far more rational to abandon faith in the inherent goodness of mankind. To abandon faith in God while retaining faith in humanity may be emotionally satisfying, but it is not logically compelling. God never built a gas chamber, and He has told us not to. Humans who loathed this God built the gas chambers—to destroy the people who revealed this God to mankind.”
Excerpt From: Prager, Dennis. “Think a Second Time.”
- LENDER OR BORROWER? “Borrowers were expected to pay interest (a concept which was probably derived from the natural increase of a herd of livestock), at rates that were often as high as 20 per cent. Mathematical exercises from the reign of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC) suggest that something like compound interest could be charged on long-term loans. But the foundation on which all of this rested was the underlying credibility of a borrower’s promise to repay. (It is no coincidence that in English the root of ‘credit’ is credo, the Latin for ‘I believe’.)” Excerpt From: Ferguson, Niall. “The Ascent of Money.”
- A BETTER MOUSETRAP “An irreducibly complex system is a system containing several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to its basic function, and where the loss of any single part causes the system to cease functioning. A simple illustration of an irreducibly complex system — a common mousetrap.
The mousetrap that one buys at the hardware store generally has a wooden platform to which all the other parts are attached. It also has a spring with extended ends, one of which presses against the platform, the other against a metal part called the hammer, which actually does the job of squashing the mouse. When one presses the hammer down, it has to be stabilized in that position until the mouse comes along, and that is the job of the holding bar. The end of the holding bar itself has to be stabilized, so it is placed into a metal piece called the catch.
If one piece of the trap is missing, then it won’t perform at all.
Here’s the problem: according to Darwin, each piece of the mousetrap must be useful in and of itself in performing its function. If the purpose of a mousetrap is to catch mice, then what good is a block of wood (platform) or an isolated spring?
This same line of thinking concerning the mousetrap can be applied to the eye. What good is a retina by itself? Or, ocular muscles without a lens? As an irreducibly complex system, the eye must come as a package deal or it wouldn’t be useful. Yet, according to Darwin the eye could not come as a package. If it did, it would violate the very criteria he established for his theory (that living structures had to be capable of evolving in small incremental steps; Darwin said that if a big jump in evolution occurred such that a complex structure “came as a package,” that would be evidence of a miraculous act of the Deity).”
Excerpt From: Moreland, J.P. “Love Your God with All Your Mind (15th anniversary repack).”