💠 Sunday Scaries (11/08/20)

The best of the 1870 Census, The Last Lecture, The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant

Hi everyone,

I received many wonderful book recommendations from you all after Friday’s post. I’ve added them to my public reading backlog. The list is growing much faster than I can read, which is exciting.

Some specific recommendations from a few readers:

Ken Cavanagh recommends The Phenomenon of Man by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

On the evolution of culture and consciousness [but really much more]. This one was recently recommended to me by a random dude on Reddit. I’ve only just cracked into but it’s blown my mind so far. If you check out any of these, it should be this one.

Jacob W. recommends A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine, Exhalation by Ted Chiang, and Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Josh Holly of Wappingers Falls, NY recommends 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann, The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought by Marilynne Robinson, and The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante.

I really enjoyed hearing from people about their favorites and will probably do this again in the near future. Stay tuned!

What’s New From Me:

  1. Words Are Powerful: Writing is the perfect example of the Lindy Effect in action. The written word is one of the oldest technologies still in use today. Created over 5,000 years ago, writing continues to be the most effective way to exchange information between people.

    If you want to predict the future, don’t just try to imagine new technologies. Look at what has existed for millennia, and subtract everything else. Nassim Taleb refers to this strategy of prediction as via negativa: gaining from subtraction.

In This Week’s Edition:

The 1870 Census: Statistical Atlas of the United States

This is everything a government document should be: informative, well-organized, and beautifully illustrated. In the 1800s, The United States began collecting, organizing, and distributing information across a variety of topics, including population, geography, wealth, demographics, disease, and more.

These documents offer a unique snapshot into American history.

My favorite part is the gorgeous maps:

Lindy score: 2,170

Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Randy was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2007. After learning that he had less than a year of life left, he decided to record what he called “The Last Lecture.” This video (and the accompanying book), is worth a watch. In it, Randy shows how to deal with the big questions and talks about what makes a life and career fulfilling.

Lindy score: 2033

The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant

What if it were possible to reverse aging? What if death was a choice?

These are the questions that this story asks. The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant is from a 2005 edition of The Journal of Medical Ethics, yet it remains just as relevant today. Studies have shown that we may be able to dramatically increase the health-span of humans. This means living longer and healthier lives. As with any new technology, this development raises significant moral and ethical questions. Yet, all of these pale in comparison to the amount of suffering and grief that happens every day as a result of preventable disease.

If we can stop death, don’t we have an obligation to do so?

Lindy score: ~2035

Thanks for reading,


Sunday Scaries is a newsletter that focuses on content that has stood the test of time. Because of The Lindy Effect, the topics covered will still be relevant in the future. You can subscribe by clicking the link below. 👇