Everything is F*cked: A book about hope – Trajan King

Everything is F*cked: A book about hope


The world is better than ever before, yet people feel less hopeful than ever. Why? This book has a catchy title that disguises the fact that it’s a discussion about philosophy and the meaning of religions in our lives. We’re all in multiple religions and they’re the foundation of our culture. Religions include Christianity and Buddhism, Capitalism and Communism, Monday night football and all influential organizations that all follow the same patterns.

You check out the book here.

Key points

Chapters 1-2
  • We search for meaning in all the chaos and uncertainty. Without meaning, there’s no hope and no reason to get up in the morning.
  • In the face of infinity, everything we care about quickly approaches zero.
  • People flock to religion because it recognizes a permanent state of unknowing and demands faith in the face of it.
  • To build and maintain hope we need: a sense of control, a belief in the value of something (values), and a community.
  • The world is getting better, but people (especially in rich countries) are feeling more depressed. The more prosperous the country, the higher the suicide rate.
  • Emotions are an essential part of decision making. If they’re turned off, as happens with a frontal lobotomy, a person doesn’t care about anything, even though they can reason, which causes problems.
  • We’re made of a Thinking Brain (logic, objective, factual) and Feeling Brain (emotions, subjective, relative). We think the former is in charge, but it’s the latter because we don’t do anything without feeling it first.
  • The “self-serving bias” happens when the Thinking Brain makes logical arguments to support the Feeling Brain, even if it’s not healthy for the person. The person ends up just doing whatever feels good.
  • The Classic Assumption was born – that the Thinking Brain should dominate and our self-control should be paramount as logic is superior to emotion.
  • Writers must appear to both the Thinking Brain and the Feeling brain because both are important. All logic makes the Feeling Brain want to do something else. All feelings make the Thinking Brain not think it’s important.
  • Premack principle – highly preferred activities were effective in reinforcing or rewarding less preferred behaviors. For example, eat your dinner so you can have dessert.
Chapter 3
  • Newton’s 1st law of emotion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite emotional reaction.
  • Moral gap: a sense that something wrong just happened to you (or someone) and you deserve to be made whole again. The forces that impel us to fill the gaps are emotions.
  • Newton’s 2nd law of emotion: Our self-worth equals the sum of our emotions over time. When someone harms us, we think, “He is shit, and I am righteous.” If we’re not able to equalize and act on our feelings of righteousness, our Feeling Brain will believe the only alternative explanation: “I am shit, and he is righteous.”
  • Reverse moral gap: If we’re given stuff (participation trophies, grade inflation, gold metals for 9th place) without earning it we falsely believe we’re superior to what we actually are and develop deluded self-worth.
  • Newton’s 3rd law of emotion: Your identity will stay your identity until a new experience acts against it.
  • “Without these narratives-without developing a clear vision of the future we desire, of the values we want to adopt, of the identities we want to shed or step into – we are forever doomed to repeat the failures of our past pain. The stories of our past define our identity. The stories of our future define our hopes. And our ability to sept into those narratives and live them, to make them reality, is what vies our lives meaning.”
  • We build tribes with those who have the same values, but we’re in the most conflict with those with whom we have slight differences. Freud called it the “narcissism of the slight difference (Civilization and its Discontents).
Chapter 4
  • This chapter covers how religions all have the same structures: beliefs, finding followers, rituals, a common enemy and making money. What’s interesting is that he says that anything can be a religion. Political parties, sports teams, corporations, etc. They all follow the same late-night TV infomercial script. Promising riches and prosperity.
  • Step 1: Sell hope to the hopeless. To feel hope we need to feel there’s a better future (values), we’re capable of getting it (self-control) and to find other people who share our values (community). We’re most impressionable when things are at their worst.
  • Step 2: Choose your faith.  We choose our “God value.” It could actually be God or it could be money or Monday night football. It’s what we value above all else. For a narcissist, it’s himself.
  • Three categories of religion:
    • Spiritual who look for a better life outside this one. Christianity, Buddhism.
    • Ideological draw hope from the natural world. Capitalism, environmentalism and other ‘isms.”
    • Interpersonal draw hope from other people. Romantic love, sports heroes.
  • Step 3: Preemptively invalidate all criticism or outside questioning. E.g. If you don’t support the war, then you support terrorism. Anyone who criticizes capitalism is a Communist.
  • Step 4: Ritual sacrifice for dummies – so easy, anyone can do it! Rituals are visual and experiential representations of what we deem important. Values must embody some narrative. Rituals connect us with our past and our values and affirm who we are.
  • Step 5: Promise heaven, deliver hell. Perfection of a system isn’t possible. Someone or something is always at odds.
  • Step 6: Prophet for Profit. Religion is part of our nature. No one is above it. Everyone is in a religion or a few. As one grows it gets more resources and fuels it’s growth. Once powerful enough it becomes the foundation of our culture.
Chapter 5
  • Nietzsche’s morality system
    • Master morality – the moral belief that people get what they deserve, that people earn through hard work. They’re righteous because of their strength.
    • Slave morality – They’re righteous because of their weakness. People who suffer the most or are most disadvantaged and deserve to be treated the best because of that suffering.
    • Master morality believes in the virtue of strength and dominance, slave morality in the virtue of sacrifice and submission.
  • “God is dead” isn’t about atheism. It’s about our inability to determine the meaning of our own existence because it’s chaotic and unknowable.
  • “Amor fati” is acceptance of life. It means “love of one’s fate. No striving for more desires, but desiring reality.


Related books:

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
by Steven Pinker

The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great
by Ben Shapiro

For a list of all book summaries, go to Book Summaries.


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Trajan King

Hey hey. I'm Trajan. I'm a minimalist entrepreneur who loves exploring the world (42 countries), learning new things (7 languages) and trying to get better every day (working on my backsquat).

I write about entrepreneurship and building an optimized and happy life through systems, good habits and scientific research.

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