Substance Vs Nonsense

While one allows you to make better decisions; the other wastes your time and leads you astray

One of the ways of acquiring knowledge is through experience. You burn your hand, you learn not to put your hand in the fire again. The other is by listening to the experiences of others. It saves you a lot of time and pain.

In the modern world, we often do this by reading books.

I have always enjoyed reading books. Over the past year, I have taken to reading with a vengeance. In 2021, I have already read 21 books. 

About 7 years ago, I read a book called ‘Civilisation: The west and the rest’ by Niall Ferguson. (Don’t bother buying the book it should not even be used to start a fire.) The book essentially says that it was the great Christian ethic that helped the west become what it is. I actually believed it for a while and used to preach it as well. In fact, this is a classic case of re-writing history to suit yourself; you see Niall Ferguson is what you call an empire apologist.

As times goes by, as you read more, as your perspective improves, your ability to differentiate between substance and nonsense improves. 

After I read Anarchy by William Dalrymple, a Scot who has lived in India since 1989, and an incredibly gifted historian; I knew that calling Niall Ferguson’s book horse shit would be taking something away from horse shit.

There are books that should have been just essays. And then there are a few such as the one mentioned above which should have never been printed. 

While I am using the analogy of books to explain this, the same applies to a lot of things in life. Speeches, presentations, data and much else. The thing that separates great people from the ordinary is their ability to know what is substance and what is nonsense. The problem with nonsense is not just that it is that; the problem with nonsense is that it wastes your time and can lead you astray.

The greatest superpower you can have in today’s world is the ability to discern substance from nonsense.


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What we think, we become ~ Buddha

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