Articles Worth Reading

My goal with students is to help them develop skills that they haven’t gotten around to. This means exposing them to fresh approaches to their work, helping them see things differently, and in general, getting them to start thinking. The best way is to have them read articles and then discuss them. I moderate and drive the discussion by encouraging them to share their thoughts and opinions in a safe environment. We’ve had a lot of fun doing this, and I’ve learnt new perspectives as well.

Here are a few of the articles that I’ve found useful for this activity. Don’t just read them through: write down your thoughts, what you understood, agreed (or disagreed!) with, and discuss these with your friends.

Making the most of what you do:

Everybody should have a basic understanding of economics!

  • I, Pencil, Leonard Read. This article is important for understanding why self-sufficiency is an idiotic, short-sighted concept. It is also a great example of clear writing.
  • That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen, Fredric Bastiat. The name has inspired other articles and an NGO! Again, worth reading for a conceptual understanding of unintended consequences and looking beyond the obvious.
  • The Tragedy of the Commons, Garrett Hardin. Ever wonder why things are so messed up in India everywhere? Here’s why.
  • The Long Tail, Chris Anderson. If you want to understand the internet economy. And if you want to be amazed at how prescient someone can be in unraveling the ‘why’ of a transition as it happens.

Introspection

  • Desiderata, Max Erhmann. A secular prayer? A Poem? However you want to describe it, what a wonderful place to be in.
  • The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity, Carlo Cipolla. It’s easy to use this to make fun of other people, but use this framework to think about how we are sometimes (many times?) stupid, and how to recognize/categorize/understand the motivations of behaviors in others.
  • Nobel Lecture, Bob Dylan. This probably works better if you hear it, rather than reading it!

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