Two opposing views of history explain many of today’s disagreements
The centenary of the armistice on November 11th is a welcome reminder that historical memories can unite the country. It is an unfortunately rare one. These days history is more commonly used to divide and inflame. The right of the Conservative Party and the left of the Labour Party—the ideologically ascendant factions in their respective worlds—are wedded to sharply contrasting interpretations of British history, which focus on very different events and freight them with very different emotions. Let us call them the Waterloo and the Peterloo interpretations.
Feelings are a funny thing. Love and heartache both happen inside your head, but they’re felt in very different places. On the flipside, excitement and fear are two very different emotions, but they feel nearly identical. To make things even more complicated, feelings are subjective — it’s hard to know if other people feel things the same way you do. That’s why this new study from a team of Finnish researchers is so fascinating: They’ve mapped emotions to where most people feel them in their own bodies. It turns out that most of us feel our emotions in similar places.
Literary elites love to rep Shakespeare’s vocabulary: across his entire corpus, he uses 28,829 words, suggesting he knew over 100,000 words and arguably had the largest vocabulary, ever.
I decided to compare this data point against the most famous artists in hip hop. I used each artist’s first 35,000 lyrics. That way, prolific artists, such as Jay-Z, could be compared to newer artists, such as Drake.
The conventional view of history is filled with lone geniuses: men and women who, through talent and inspiration, achieved feats no one else had before. Pablo Picasso. Vincent van Gogh. Albert Einstein. Emily Dickinson.
Joshua Wolf Shenk…argues that the real driver of human creativity isn’t the lone genius, but the partnership.
“It’s something else — it’s feeling, emotion, preference, loyalty, convenience of the moment,” Mr. Hayden said. He quoted a former speechwriter for Mr. Bush, Michael Gerson, about Mr. Trump: “He lives in the eternal now — no history, no consequences.”
So don’t try to prove things; try to convince yourself. And be your own harshest critic and your own greatest skeptic. Every scientific theory will someday fail, and when it does, that will herald a new era of scientific inquiry and discovery. And of all the scientific theories we’ve ever come up with, the best ones succeed for the longest amounts of time and over the greatest ranges possible. In some sense, it’s better than a proof: it’s the most correct description of the physical world humanity has ever imagined.
We need to celebrate this collaboration more than ever, because it doesn’t happen on its own. It needs an environment that encourages researchers to build international and interdisciplinary teams, to work in different countries, to attack problems that no one person, or nation, can solve alone.