Instagram, a month of work per week, and the corruption of ideas

More often than I change my socks, someone tells me I really “should” be on Instagram to promote Fine, I relent: here’s my account, and my strategy is simple: once per week or so, I will just make a picture out of a good quote and share that. “Easy,” if I ignore the fact that I’m already heavily overbooked with easy weekly tasks (add them all up and it’s about a month of work per week). But I got started, and here’s my first crack at it:

The context for this quote is the lactic acid myth, which I was writing about last week. (If you’re still thinking about lactic acid “building up” in muscles during exercise… time to adjust that mental image!) But obviously this quote applies to a lot of things.

I was already pretty cynical about “conventional wisdom,” but I keep learning to be more cynical. 😏 I have been listening (and re-listening) to a lot of the You’re Wrong About podcast over the last year, and it has powerfully emphasized that almost anything widely believed is not just wrong, but usually profoundly wrong and often even ironically wrong — tragically the opposite of the truth in some significant way. (There are many examples in their archives, but one of my favourites is the D.C. Snipers story. Good a place as any to start.)

This has led me to the idea that the popularity of ideas and stories is itself corrosive. That an idea cannot become widely accepted without getting severely distorted by oversimplification, cultural biases, and so on. Popularity corrupts, and absolute popularity corrupts absolutely.