Teacher: If you have 10 chocolate cakes and someone asks for 2, how many do you have left? Me: 10. Teacher: Okay, well what if someone forcibly takes two of the cakes, how many would you have left then? Me: 10, and a dead body.
This thought has been haunting me for a while now since I was listenning to 罗辑思维 while in Shanghai in 2016. I really enjoyed the talks to the point that siqi joked that 罗辑 was becoming my idol. Well, that certainly was not happening and would never happen — I enjoyed it because of the new information of history which I was both familiar with and strange of, partially derived from my deficient formal and self- education on these topics, partially because I never thought of them this way. Nonetheless, I found topics intriguing and fun and had some really good point — the analogy of training passing by a platform as he described how progress of AI will pass human advantages.
But anyway, I disliked tremendously when I first watched his annual presentation, which strongly mimiced Steven Jobs and a grand powerpoint. I was disgusted not by the form or the content, but how he was giving credits to those successful business men sitting in honory seats — yes they have done a great job in their own right; no I get it, it's a licking butt, giving face, and a fxxk banquet of an elite club of millionaires.
That's not the what I want to talk about in this article. A detour. What really bugs me is the thought of how I am acquiring information and knowledge. On one hand I take pride of myself of being independent thinker, cynical, even over-critical; on the other hand, even with all the books I am reading, I wonder that with the unique view that author is presenting and I'm deep into it at this moment, how do I know which side of the coin I am looking at? If I think people who rely on reader's digest for information is lazy and biased, am I really that different? Isn't what I see and read also just a version of a digest? Even worse, author of the reader digest often than not is a better writer, better analyst, better domain expert, than I am, so his/her view and summary of the book/article/whatever should have a better quality, depth, accuracy, thus a higher density of information, than what I could derive through my own effort. So in this light, me as a person who always to advocate efficiency, is actually taking a path of lower efficiency in acquiring information!
Many many times I felt sorry for those upper management who was litening to my presentation. My view is that their channel of information came from my PPT, which truly I feel is just a tunnel view of the subject, even though I honestly wasn't having any intention of manipulating their perception. But it is inevitable. The slides bear a stamp of my perception, and is completly limited to my own way of thinking and understanding — and mine could be well off track from what the truth is. But then, with so many projects going on and so many new technologies, buzz words, subordinates and daily meetings, even by design for their role in work, they have been deprived of having hands-on experience to obtain the level of details that I have. Therefore, they have not choice but to play the managerial pride because that's the only way they could mask their lack of confidence in front of someone who has done the work many times over and know a whole lot of details. But this is pathetic, don't you think?
Anyway, from my previous argument, learning from PPT is also more efficient than me studying everything by myself. To think of it, even going to school is an experience of learning from someone's reader's digest, isn't it? Professor had more knowledge and experience with the subject, s/he picked a book, taught us a few things about the subject, and influenced with s/he own personal view of what topic in this field holds a higher priority and excitement. Therefore, learning from reader's digest is not an evil, nor an outlier, but a necessity, a norm, a must.
But but, I still have a strong feeling against program like 罗辑思维 when it preached the idea of "let me read, for you". This ideology bothers me. I appreciate a venue to learn a summary of a book, even an opinion (or opinions) through such a program. But it being an only, or even an primary information channel, is not healthy I would say. Regardless how well the digest sounds, it is a distilled version, and it is not your version. There is nothing wrong to adopt it as your version if you feel so, but always bear in mind that it is one way to look at things, not The way. More importantly, it should trigger a train of thought that disturbs you more than it gives you anwsers — it demonstrates how ignorant one is (how can I never heard of this before!?), and how ignorant one is about one's ignorance!
I think reading, listening to these digests are fine and a must. But don't stop there. If it is a topic that interest you dearly, dig in, you will be shocked how deep all rabbit holes go. The evil of 罗辑思维 or any digest is when it prints in large font "all you need to know" on package — that is not a summarized knowledge anymore, that has become a dose of opium numbing your soul.
— by Feng Xia