Since I have always preferred making plans to executing them, I have gravitated towards situations and systems that, once set into operation, could create music with little or no intervention on my part.
Think of cocaine. In its natural form, as coca leaves, it’s appealing, but not to an extent that it usually becomes a problem. But refine it, purify it, and you get a compound that hits your pleasure receptors with an unnatural intensity. That’s when it becomes addictive. Beauty has undergone a similar process, thanks to advertisers. Evolution gave us a circuit that responds to good looks—call it the pleasure receptor for our visual cortex—and in our natural environment, it was useful to have.
But take a person with one-in-a-million skin and bone structure, add professional makeup and retouching, and you’re no longer looking at beauty in its natural form. You’ve got pharmaceutical-grade beauty, the cocaine of good looks. Biologists call this “supernormal stimulus”; show a mother bird a giant plastic egg, and she’ll incubate it instead of her own real eggs. Madison Avenue has saturated our environment with this kind of stimuli, this visual drug. Our beauty receptors receive more stimulation than they were evolved to handle; we’re seeing more beauty in one day than our ancestors did in a lifetime. And the result is that beauty is slowly ruining our lives.
– Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others
Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.
– General George S. Patton
First, I had long looked for insight by inversion in the intense manner counseled by the great algebraist, Jacobi: “Invert, always invert.” I sought good judgment mostly by collecting instances of bad judgment, then pondering ways to avoid such outcomes. Second, I became so avid a collector of instances of bad judgment that I paid no attention to boundaries between professional territories.
– Charlie Munger, The Psychology of Human Misjudgment
More and more, just like the last 20 years was focused on physical athletes, the next 20 years would be focused on mental athletes. These ways of thinking and compounding, Buffett, Munger, and polymaths have already used to a large degree and have been confirmed by academia…
You thought just because you own a brain you knew how to operate it right? Why do you think the drop out rates for STEM is so high. Most people attribute it to pipeline or professor, but perhaps it’s because people don’t know how to learn difficult subjects….
In conclusion, as the world becomes more and more technical and complex, most people don’t have the mindset nor tactical skills. In short, people have to re-learn the manual to their own brain. Just because you have a computer, it doesn’t mean you know everything about it.”
As for those reading business books… If one more person recommends Ray Dalio’s b.s. book I’m gonna explode. So the guy made a lot of money, so what? Age and you learn that everyone is an individual, and you can only maximize what is special to yourself. To try to imitate the career of someone else is futile. But we’re all looking for answers in a world where there are fewer of them. We all want to believe we’re on the right path, when the truth is we’re in the wilderness, looking for exactly that, truth.
– Bob Lefsetz
And here is the key insight from evolution. Our brains grew big long, long before we achieved civilization. We’ve had 1,200cc of intelligence for half a million years: even Neanderthals had huge brains. For 99 percent of that time we were just another hard-pressed species, as bottle-nosed dolphins are today, and around 75,000 years ago we teeter-ed on the brink of extinction.
What changed was not some bright spark of a new gene being turned on, but that we began to exchange and specialize, to create collective intelligence, rather than rely on individual braininess. To put it another way, dozens of stupid people in a room who talk to each other will achieve far more than an equal number of clever people who don’t. The internet only underlines this point. Human intelligence is a distributed, collaborative phenomenon.
– Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist
”You can define a free person precisely as someone whose fate is not centrally or directly dependent on his peer assessment”
– Nasseem Taleb