Bill’s Link Collection
Bookmarks of my favourite stuff on the Internet, along with my notes. Randomly ordered. all notes
- How to walk across a parking lot My all-time favourite example of what “mindfulness” looks like in real life.
- How Doctors Die
- How to Get Rich How to create new wealth from nothing.
- When Women Wanted Sex Much More Than Men
- What You Can’t Say Perenially relevant.
- Sizhao Yang: Intellectual Compounding
- Information Hazards: The benefits of Ignorance
Exceptionally Gifted Children
Let me propose to you an experimental study.
Let us take a child of average intellectual ability, and when he is 5 years old, let us place him in a class of children with severe intellectual disabilities, children whose IQs are at least four standard deviations lower than his. The child will stay with this group for the duration of his schooling and he will undertake the curriculum designed for the class, at the level and pace of the class.
We will carefully observe and assess at regular intervals his educational progress, his feelings about school, his social relationships with classmates, and his self-esteem. We will also observe the child’s parents and their interactions with the child’s teacher, school, and school system. They will, of course, have had no say in the child’s class or grade placement.
As one cannot generalize from a sample of one, the study will be replicated with 60 children in cities, towns, and rural and remote areas across the nation.
If this proposal appalls you, rest easy. Such a study will never be undertaken. No education system would countenance it. No ethics committee would approve it.
Instead, I will report some findings from a real-life study that is ongoing and that mirrors the hypothetical study described above. This study of 60 young Australians with IQs of 160 and above is in its 22nd year, and the majority of the subjects are in their mid- to late 20s. Like the children in the hypothetical study, the majority undertook their entire schooling in classes where the average IQ was 100, at least four standard deviations below theirs. These children, and their parents, were less than happy. The education systems were unresponsive and no ethics committee raised a whisper, as this treatment is common practice in Australia, as well as in the United States.
The Forging of a Skeptic (Warren Buffett)
Alternate Link (PDF)
Miguel: Give us advice to becoming better communicators.
Alice: Well…this is not anything profound. But you see that he uses very short parables, stories, and analogies. He chooses key words that resonate with people —that will stick in their heads, like Aesop’s fables, and fairytale imagery. He’s good at conjuring up pictures in people’s minds that trigger archetypal thinking. It enables him to very quickly make a point … without having to expend a lot of verbiage.
He’s also conscientious about weaving humor into his material. He’s naturally witty, but he’s aware that humor is enjoyable and disarming if you’re trying to teach something.
[Buffett] has internalized so much information over the years and uses so many mental models (to quote a Mungerism) that they have coalesced into an almost visceral reaction to an investing situation.
He would say, “How much would you pay to write terrorism risk on this building from now 2002 until 2012 for X events?” I would give some number and then he would say yea or nay.
- Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond? The myth that diamonds have value is a marketing fiction.
There’s no such thing as a free watch
The "markup" you are paying is for the "brand story"; this imagined value is not fake, because it has value to you in signalling power, as you want to advertise to others (and yourself) that you align with this brand story.
Who Pays For This?
Counterintuitively, it's ok for countries to rack up high levels of debt with low interest rates and never pay off the principal, instead inflating/growing out of the debt, but only if justified by even higher productivity growth.
This isn’t intuitive because it doesn’t apply to people. When a person takes out a mortgage or a car loan, there’s a repayment date. But that’s only because people have finite careers and lifespans, so there’s an “end date” where all debts have to be repaid.
Countries (and to some extent companies) are different. They have indefinite lives. So they can remain indebted indefinitely, even with rising debt.
As long as nominal GDP growth is higher than the annual budget deficit, debt to GDP goes down, and spending more than you take in leaves you with a lower debt burden.
This is so simple, but it’s easily overlooked because it doesn’t apply to people.
Pension fraud is the key to aging?
Physical possession of valid documents is not an age guarantee. Consider a room containing 100 real Italian supercentenarians, each holding complete and validated documents of their age. One random centenarian is then exchanged for a younger sibling, who is handed their real and validated birth documents. How could an independent observer discriminate this type I substitution from the 99 other real cases, using only documents as evidence?
This hypothetical error cannot be excluded on the basis of document consistency: every document in the room is both real and validated. In addition, a real younger sibling is also likely to have sufficient biographic knowledge to pass an interview. As such, any similar substitution error has the potential to indefinitely escape detection.
See also A Misanthropic Reinterpretation of the Chinese Room Problem. You are usually not conscious of your thoughts.
- How To Deal With Cops
- Ways people trying to do good accidentally make things worse