What’s Our Problem? by Tim Urban is a thought-provoking book that introduces a new framework for understanding our chaotic political environment and the core issues driving societal divisions, such as immigration and climate change. The book offers a fresh perspective on how we can move forward as a society by examining the psychological and intellectual motivations behind our thoughts, emotions, values, morals, judgments, and overall consciousness.
Urban presents the concept of two minds within each individual: the Primitive Mind, which is focused on survival and confirmation of existing beliefs, and the Higher Mind, which is responsible for wisdom, growth, and moderation. He argues that human nature is a software program optimized for survival in a small tribe, but the modern world is vastly different from the environment we were made for. This discrepancy has led to a constant tug-of-war between these two minds, resulting in confusion, fear, and a lack of wisdom.
The author introduces the Ladder as a thinking lens to help us better understand the world and ourselves. The Ladder serves as a ‘how you think’ axis, focusing on the process of arriving at beliefs rather than simply where one stands on an issue. By improving our ability to think from the high rungs of the Ladder, we can become wiser and more aware individuals.
To break free from the downward spiral of confusion and fear, Urban suggests an upward spiral of awareness and courage. He encourages readers to practice self-awareness, humility, and courage by conducting self-audits, speaking up about their beliefs, and engaging in public discourse. By doing so, we can collectively work towards a wiser society capable of navigating the challenges of our increasingly complex world.
What I Liked
Ok first, Wait but Why is one of the best blogs in the history of the Internet. I love Tim Urban’s approach and explainer. He’s amazing. This book was his big project that took years to complete. I love the illustrations, the examples, and how the. sets the framework of his explanations.
What I Did Not Like
This book felt like when a punchy 22 minute comedy TV show decides to do a 44 minute “special”. It’s still great…but it’s missing a certain something that the original format brings. I get that Tim Urban was trying to tackle a massive topic here, but I think it would have worked better as a series of blog posts.