How a different model can change everything: genius, shoes, planets, the universe, humans, gods, and sex

June 5, 2015 by Joshua
in Awareness, Models, Nature, Perception

Following up yesterday’s post on how one simple change in perspective can dramatically change how you view things, which then changes how you react to them, here are a few other examples.

Note that I’m not writing about right or wrong, just different beliefs and following how small changes in beliefs can lead to big changes in behavior and mood. My goal is to promote flexibility in beliefs.

Running shoes

Old view: The whole weight of your body lands on your heel when you run, especially if you land with your leg straight. Also you should transfer your weight from your heel straight through the center of your foot to your toes, otherwise you “overpronate.”

Old view result: Put shock absorbing padding under your heel to make running shoes. If you still have problems, put more technology into the shoe to protect the foot. Use arch supports. If you overpronate, use more technology to make the foot work right.

Book that changed my view: Born to Run

New view: Humans have run for hundreds of thousands of years without shoes, probably one of our species most useful evolutionary adaptations. We probably do fine without technology.

New view result: Most people don’t land on the heel when they run, nor do they land with their legs straight so we don’t have a shock to absorb. Putting the padding under the heel led to use running how our ancestors didn’t. That padding led to a running style incompatible with many people’s anatomy.

When I wore regular running shoes I “needed” arch supports and my back would hurt after running. Now I run with shoes with almost no padding, mainly to protect against glass and nails, don’t need arch supports and have no back pain after running. I had stopped running from the back pain. Now I run all the time, including my best time for the New York marathon last year, dozens of half-marathons, and a bunch of twenty-plus-mile runs, which I enjoyed.


Old view: Some people are born with abilities beyond everyone else’s, like Mozart and Einstein.

Old view results: Since you can’t match their achievements, don’t try. Accept mediocrity.

Book that changed my view: Creativity: Beyond the Myth of Genius

New view: When we look at their behavior in detail, without the stories society has built around them, we find these people did things the same way everyone else does, showing no superhuman traits. We call genius what we don’t understand about the middle steps they took. Their achievements came from knowing their field well and working longer through their challenges.

New view results: If I stick keep learning my field and keep working at it, I can achieve in my field what they did in theirs. I enjoy learning and challenging myself in areas I like, like teaching and coaching leadership and entrepreneurship. I also learn to actively create passion out of interests instead of passively waiting to find a passion.

Planets, the universe, and humans

These beliefs changed before I was born, but the pattern is the same: simple change in perspective, dramatic change in behavior.

Old view: The Earth is at the center of the universe and humans are the top of the animal kingdom.

Old view results: We could do anything we wanted because we were put here to take over. People who didn’t look like you were inferior, closer to animals, and hurting them wasn’t bad.

Books that changed those views: Many, though I think of Galileo’s and Darwin’s.

New view: the Earth goes around the Sun, which is one of billions of stars that go around the center of the Milky Way galaxy, which is one galaxy of more than billions, and there may be more. Humans evolved from the same ancestors following the same selection patterns as all other life.

New view results: Our planet won’t stay pristine on its own if we pollute it so we try to reduce how much we pollute it. Since all people are related, we don’t consider others inferior. When we talk about nature, we prefer points made with evidence more than without it. (Not everyone agrees with the new view.) I find that the less I think I’m special, the more I connect with others.


Old view: There is one god and one right religion.

Old view results: Believe and do what people in that religion tell you and disbelieve others when they contradict them. Doubt personal observations that contradict them.

Phrase that encapsulates the new view: “To truly understand one religion takes a lifetime. To truly understand two takes an hour.”

New view: Multiple religions say they are absolutely right, meaning others are absolutely wrong. Whatever religion anyone considers right, most people consider it wrong.

New view results: Enjoy life without people telling you what to do.


Old view: Men are stronger than women, use it to get power, and create political structures to oppress women.

Old view results: Work to create laws to protect women from inequality and to take power from men and give it to women.

Book that changed those views: The Myth of Male Power

New view: Society imposed roles on both genders that become more apparent as society changes. While most of the most powerful people are men, they are a negligible percentage of men nor do they act to advantage men in general. Most of the least powerful people are men too—the homeless who receive no help, soldiers dying in wars, working the most dangerous jobs.

New view results: To see the tremendous suffering men face but that society ignores and to see different forms of inequality that hurt men and women. This view seems the most controversial today.

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