Who says?

Does it matter who says it? Science says: “It doesn’t matter who said it. What matters is the evidence and the reasoning.” Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts Richard Feynman Thomas Hobbes said much the same: Words are wise men’s counters, they do but reckon by them; but they are the money of fools, that value them…

Ready-made and the alternative

Most of the time buying something that’s been ready-made by professionals is cheaper – especially if you count the cost of your time – and gets you a better result. You pay your money, and in return you get your problem solved. But it might be that you buy other things by choosing to make something yourself: fun new technical…

Deirdre McCloskey on liberty and human flourishing

The real ability of the poorest to buy goods and services rose, 1800 to the present, by 3,000 percent. Literally. A factor of thirty. … I take it you value human liberty and human flourishing. (If you do not, we have nothing to discuss, and can go straight to fighting it out in the streets.) You will know that the…

Seth Godin on difficult conversations

I highly recommend this week’s excellent episode of Akimbo about Difficult Conversations. Here’s my summary: There are lots of conversations that we think of as “difficult”: telling someone you manage that you’re not happy with their performance; complaining about customer service; asking a friend to change their behaviour. We often find having these conversations hard and even avoid having them…

“I barely scratched the surface.”

“How was work today?” “Good, but it felt like I barely scratched the surface.” I imagine we’ll still be saying the same thing when we die. So – where will you scratch?

The water we swim in: Robert Pondiscio on culture and school performance

This extract is from is a great Econtalk discussion of How the Other Half Learns. Recommend. Robert Pondiscio: They [Success Academy Charter Schools] require an extraordinary level of parent commitment both in time and responsiveness. And it just seems pointless to deny that for some number of parents, this is simply too much. I want to be clear here that…

Neil Gaiman on reading fiction, empathy and changing the world

“Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn…

Commitment: their actual lives

This might be your life’s work. It might be a side project. But as you work – doing something to help, perhaps hiring people to work with you, apportioning your time and attention between competing people and priorities – remember that these are people’s actual lives. And yours. Be as clear as possible about your commitment and its costs, and…

The onion strikes back: Maggie Koerth on the nested problems of Covid-19 testing

Covid-19 testing has been a mixed bag: Singapore and Korea seem to have been able to get on top of things quickly, while the UK and US (to pick too) have – at least in comparison – seemed barely able to get their act together at all. Maggie Koerth‘s discussion of the issue with Kevin Kelly and Mark Frauenfelder points…

David Krakauer on Claude Shannon’s definition of information

[Claude] Shannon said “Look, here’s what information is. Let’s say I want to navigate from one part of the city to another, from A to B, in a car. I could just drive around randomly. It would take an awful long time to get there, but I might eventually get there. Alternatively, I could give you a map or driving…