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“This error of thinking that things always have a reason that is accessible to us”

Currently reading Antifragile by Nassem Taleb.  He’s surprisingly skeptical of High Science (my term) and — instead — tilts toward the tinkerers.

I’m very inclined to like this book, especially since his skepticism mirrors my own on topics like High Science, government interventionism, and jobs in Corporate America.

But I’m not sure that he’s articulated it in a way that gives you much insight into how to lead your life.  At least not yet.  The biggest insight so far: Optionality matters.  Make decisions that give you good choices in the future.   Limit your downside without limiting your upside.

Which is eerily similar to what they teach you in poker books.

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“Most Depressing Brain Finding Ever”

At Huffpost, Marty Kaplan is — somehow — surprised that prior beliefs influence how we interpret new information, even blinding us to facts.

But then he quickly realizes that this is — of course! — why “Fox News viewers” and “climate change deni[ers]” are incapable of seeing the obvious truths that are in front of them.

One obvious lesson of confirmation bias: It’s always easier to see confirmation bias amongst those who disagree with you!

HT Althouse.

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“We cannot distinguish the sane from the insane…”

My favorite decade is the 1970’s.  Partially because of the urban cowboy shirts.   But also because it was – by subjective evaluation – the most subversive decade.  This is the decade that gave us the original Bad News Bears, remember, one of the most subversive movies ever made.

Now for some subversive science from the 1970’s.  In 1973, D.L. Rosenhan and eight other “normal” people got themselves admitted – undercover – as patients at psychiatric hospitals.  After admission, they made every effort to act normally and to answer questions truthfully, staying on average over 3 weeks.

The doctors and nurses failed to realize that they were sane.  But the real patients in the hospital saw through the ruse.

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Bill Nye: Without evolution, “your worldview is crazy, untenable.”

Angry old man Bill Nye argues that we have to eradicate creationism, because “we need scientists and engineers.”

Evolution is fascinating to me… and an integral part of how I see the world.  But it is preposterous to propose that one can’t be a scientist or engineer without believing in evolution.  Partial list of people who did not believe in evolution: Galileo, Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Mendel, Gutenberg, Faraday, etc.

Science is a process, not a body of facts to be memorized.

 

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NPR: Ecstasy is “safe” but also entails playing “Russian roulette”

The CDC reports that over 80 thousand people die each other from alcohol-related causes.  And over 20 thousand people die from prescription drug overdoes.

But NPR is fear-mongering about 4 deaths from drugs incorrectly sold as MDMA, a drug that NPR declared to be safe and potentially beneficial last year.

Note that the DEA’s scare tactics are based on the potential that pills sold as ecstasy are not pure MDMA, an extremely infrequent problem that could be eliminated if the government ended its ban.

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