Preview KEW Episode 66: Clarity

To compensate for the complexity (and length) of last weeks’ Episode title (Episode 65) I am coming out small this week.


Simple enough, right? But is it? Do we ever really get clarity? Or, is clarity a regular part of our lives, or are we more often stuck in a state of wondering what the hell is really going on?

I say it often that it amazes me we ever walk away from conversations knowing what transpired. Between what we think, what we actually say, the words we use, the way we’re perceived, the way the other person or people define these words, the various subjectivities. . . . .again, it’s a wonder we can even understand each other.

But we do. . . . generally. Of course, in couples or relationship therapy we learn ways to ensure we are heard correctly and that both parties fully understand one another. And this is critical in marriages or close relationships. But it’s probably important in general. But what does it look like, and what do we have to do to communicate better? To get clarity?

Full Episode this Friday, right here at KEW.

I’d also like to add a special shout out to one of my favorite sailing YouTube and Podcast channels The O’Kelly’s, who named their boat Clarity. Their homepage is here I’ve invited them on to interview but I think the logistics of recording video and audio remotely are quite challenging.

KEW Episode 52: ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ Realities

As we pursue the “Are vs. Should Problem” and examine our personal inventory, I want to describe two main ways we can understand our selves and the realities we live in.

First, there is the measurable world. The ‘Hard’ world where science reigns supreme. Things are measurable, quantifiable, and therefore fit into the well oiled scientific machinery. Problems stemming from economics, medicine, and food supply are easily boiled down into testable hypotheses and theories used to derive definitive results. Other minds have described hard problems as being those containing subjects comprised of matter (as opposed to ideas, for example).

Is the economy going to tank? Well, the data on this and that support a trajectory that suggests no.

Will this medicine prevent a global pandemic? It is 98% effective at preventing disease and 90% of the population is vaccinated so yes!

Is this years corn crop enough to supply North America for the winter? Yes, ten billion metric tonnes of corn will feed 200 million people (I completely made up those numbers, but you get the point)

So science is pretty darned good at answering certain questions. About things that we can OBSERVE and MEASURE.

EVERYTHING ELSE is a ‘SOFT’ problem defined by a soft reality. EVERYTHING ELSE.

My point in this episode is that VERY FEW items in our personal inventory are going to fit into the HARD reality. And, unfortunately, scientists (and other professionals who get paid to think) spend most of their time on HARD problems because, well, because they have to. The hard tools don’t work as well on the soft realities. BUT THEY CAN WORK!

And so, as part of our assessment of our personal inventory, as part of the process of weeding out the needs, the wants, and the don’t-really-need-so-muches, we have to develop a new skill set.

One way to understand the soft problems, is simply to borrow the scientific tools used for hard problems. Einstein, and others, called these ‘thought experiments’. There’s no reason we can’t follow the scientific approach to ask questions about soft realities, we just can’t draw the same conclusions because not everything can be boiled down to numbers.

And that may be another way to understand the difference. Hard reality problems can be boiled down to a set of numbers that represent the reality: The average person has 10,000 thoughts a day. Whereas the soft reality problem can’t be measured like that: The average person worries about death and being unloved as they age. Worry, fear, sadness. How do you measure those things? And, if you could, why would you? What we want and need with soft problems is simply a better understanding of the realities across people. Science isn’t a good tool to go about understanding this. Our minds, however, are excellent tools to solve these problems – we just have to normalize this however we can once we find a system that works.

And, really, we probably have lots of Unscientific approaches that work – we just treat them differently from science because, well, they aren’t science. Next week I’ll go in to a bit more detail with examples.

Full podcast audio download here:

Or please subscribe to KEW podcast via your favorite app.

Full YouTube video link here: