90 – Secret to Our Success

We talk about Cultural Evolution, and why it is so terrible.

The Secret to Our Success:
The Book
Melting Asphalt on Prestige Versus Dominance
I, Pencil (About How No One Can Make a Pencil Anymore)
Caveman Sci-Fi
The Mr. Rogers Documentary

Hey look, we have a discord! What could possibly go wrong?

LessWrong posts Discussed in this Episode:

Risk-Free Bonds Aren’t

Correspondence Bias

Next Episode’s Sequence Posts:

Are Your Enemies Innately Evil?

Two More Things to Unlearn from School

Big thanks to David for our intro music! Check out his music and VFX here!

We’d like to thank creators of our new outro music from the Sumerki Project! Check out their stuff here!

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4 Responses to 90 – Secret to Our Success

  1. Dan says:

    Great episode. A few points:

    1. Regarding I, pencil: If you’re intrigued with this idea, I highly recommend checking out the book, _The Knowledge_. It’s awesome. Written by a PhD in Astrobiology of all things, it seeks to create instructions on rebuilding the world from first principles. Literally rebuilding the world from nothing but dirt, rocks, and trees. Personally, I’ve often looked at everyday items and been very annoyed that I literally have *no idea* how they were made. This book helps alleviate that unusual brand of modern angst (and is probably essential for a zombie apocalypse).

    2. Regarding tribal knowledge above “scientific” knowledge: Nassim Taleb makes an interesting point about why we should trust our grandmother above certain “scientific” knowledge. His point (as far as I can tell) is that tradition does carry the cultural wisdom of many generations and science is too often corrupted by cliques of people who dominate scientific theory. So in that sense, “science” (in quotes) can be untrustworthy unless rigorous methods are used – and they often are not. I think this is a true statement and if we could discern a way to fix this problem of the “scientific priesthood”, science would likely advance much faster.

    3. Regarding risk free rate: The point of a risk free rate is not to say it’s truly “risk free”. As one of the comments you read indicates, every finance person knows treasuries are not truly risk free. The point of “risk free” is to find the least risky asset and use it as a benchmark by which to measure other assets. For example, “how much should I charge to loan Apple money for 10 years”? Well… the 10 year treasury sits at 2.042% as I write this, so we will require more than that. After all, risk free is at 2%… maybe we should charge Apple 3% for a spread of 1%. We’d charge Sears a spread of more than 1% because they’re riskier. (And yes, Apple is more risky than treasuries because USA literally prints dollars and has aircraft carriers)

    Side Note: If you’re interested… German bonds are currently yielding NEGATIVE 0.438%, so yes if you loan Germany money you don’t get a return you have to PAY THEM money. This isn’t because Germany is safer to loan money to than the USA (trust me, it’s not), it’s because (opinions begin here–>) the monetary system is breaking and this is a loud and clear signal that credit and money markets are not really as they should be working anymore. This is a fascinating and disturbing turn of events that never gets reported on, there’s a lot more to say about it but I’ll leave it there. Right now, there are bonds in Europe rated as junk that have negative yields… if that’s not showing money is broken I don’t know what is.

    Thanks for the show!

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