Photo by Ryan Magsino on Unsplash

If you have ever been to a sawmill like the one I used to run, you have seen one of the most fearsome objects you are ever likely to meet: a sawblade at least three feet in diameter with teeth as big as a tiger’s whirring loudly just a couple feet from the operator. There were no safety guards on my sawmill. I’m not sure how there could be. I frequently had to reach close to the blade to remove boards and some debris.

One day while I was working, the thought entered my brain that I could just dive onto that sawblade and have it cut me in half. This thought frightened me so much I shut everything down, went home, put the covers over my head, and talked to no one. What was going on with me? I wasn’t suicidal. Until this happened, I was happy with my life. Was I going crazy? Continue reading


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If you’re interested in understanding human behavior, you could do a lot worse than reading novels and fictional short stories.

The worse thing you could do, I suppose, is to read instruction manuals on how to assemble Ikea furniture, astrophysics, or the nature of chemical reactions, anything in which no human need be present. The second worse thing would be to read heavy handed self help books or even handed psychology texts. The information there is often correspondingly one sided or thin. Reading journal articles about human behavior would the the third worse thing to read. They may help you drill down into specifics, but they all contain far more about statistics and experimental design than any student of the humanities has patience for.

indexFor my money, and to conserve my time, I would go to the fiction section of the library and load up on books that showcase the actions and interactions of people. One of the best of recent books that can teach you a lot about humans is Freedom by Jonathan Frazen. Continue reading