Thoughts on: Educated by Tara Westover

A memoir. Likely one of the best I’ve read.

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Tara grew up in a pious Mormon family lead by a survivalist father with a fondness for conspiracy theories. His plan was to be fully self-reliant and “off the grid” before the End of Days, an event he was sure to be imminent.

Tara’s story about finding her independence is a powerful one; a narrative so well-crafted I had a hard time putting it down even for my most basic maslowian needs.


📝 Her mother was trained to be a midwife. The idea was that she would deliver the grandchildren ones the family was “off the grid”.

📝 The Protocols on the Elders of Zion: A fabricated document, from 1903, of a secret meeting of powerful Jews planing world domination. Discredited, but it still spread anti-semitism and fueled conspiracy theorists for decades to come.

📝 She read Mormon doctrine in mimicry of a brother that left her for school. “In retrospect I can see that this was my education. The one that would matter.” “The skill I was learning was a crucial one; the patience to read things I could not yet understand.”

📝 Mother was a herbalist and energy worker: “Mother was marketing her product as a spiritual alternative to Obama Care.” Made bank! 💰


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

It is fascinating how the object of concern for the conspiracy theorist change over time as each prophecy fail to deliver the end of days. When Y2K didn’t happened Taras father lost hope for a while, then the events of 9/11 filled that vacuum.


⚖️ VERDICT:

Now we run into trouble. What are we scoring here?! Our goal is to educate ourself about the human condition and learn how to live well in spite of it. The rating system gives and indication on how well a book meets that goal.

For our learning purposes it’s a good book (3). As a “beach book” it’s excellent! (4 or a 5). Pick it up during summer break (if you have the privilege to have one) then get back to your studies! 😉👨‍🎓👩‍🎓


3/5


⁉️ QUESTON:

Are there any books on the psychology of conspiracy theorists? AND What’s your thoughts on vaccines, Illuminati, Rothchilds, Aliens and government brainwashing? 🤔

Photo credit: @thebookunicorns

For more mind boggling read check out my Reading Lists.

Thoughts on: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot

HeLa cells was the first immortal cell line ever discovered. This mean that they can survive and multiply forever in labs given they are provided with cell culture. Without this amazing discovery modern medicine would look very different.

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HeLa stands for Henrietta Lacks. The name of the poor tobacco farmer from which the cells come from. This book tells the story of the cells and the Lacks family, (which I quite a ride!) but also the history of patient consent.

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📝 What made the HeLa cancer cells so special was that they allowed researchers to do all kinds of experiments on them that would never be allowed to do on live humans.

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📝 HeLa led to the polio vaccine in a time when people died in droves from it. Only one of many HeLa contributions!

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📝 The Tuskegee Study: In the 30s scientists studied how one died from syphilis. Black men where observed dying from syphilis without intervention. (Yes, a cure existed.) “Doctors where doing experiments on black people. Watching them die.” That was the word on the streets when the study came to public knowledge. No wonder black Americans where distrustful of scientists!

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📝 All cancers originate from one cell going wrong. Scary thought. Memento Mori I guess!

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📝 People in prisons volunteered to inject Henrietta’s cancer cells into their arms to see how healthy people rejected to them. These patients fought off the cancer. (I would not volunteer for that 😬)

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📝 Modern gene patenting inhabits research. (No shit, Sherlock! 🕵️‍♂️ 😒)

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📝 The Lacks family have seen nothing of millions of dollars being made from HeLa-cells. They are still piss poor.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

What made things worse was the Lacks family’s lack of education. When hearing about Henrietta’s cells being cloned in London, her daughter thought actual copies of Henrietta was walking on Trafalgar Square, when i reality it was only her cancer cells that was cloned. The stress made her sick. So much unnecessary suffering could have been avoided by education.

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What are you reading this week?

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Review (3/5) – Get the Book!

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Thoughts on: “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance

I was not the only one that woke up confused with Donald Trump installed as president of the United States.

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This book has helped me understand how this could happen and why it came a such a surprise for a lot of people.

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The book is part memoir and part sociocultural analysis. J. D Vance tells the true story of what it like to live in community in decline. He grew up in a rust belt town in a family that struggled with addiction and abuse but escaped it. Seeing his own community from from an outside perspective made him write this book.

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The white working class is the one social group in America that has the darkest outlook on life. Learned helplessness, believing that ones choices don’t have any impact on ones life, is widespread and belief in upward mobility and opportunities to come is fading.

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I don’t have a certain key takeaway from this book, but it help understand where the messaging of Trumps presidential campaign was aimed at and how in some circles it came as such a surprise that he won.

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This is not a book about politics, but a very honest and personal story that attempts to understand reasons behind the recent decline in the “hillbilly” way of life. It doesn’t mention Trump but it makes it clear that there are a lot of desperate people in the US that feel overlooked and want to end the status quo no matter the price.

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4/5

“Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance

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