Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Quote of the Day

The actual time you have — which reason can prolong though it naturally passes quickly — inevitably escapes you rapidly: for you do not grasp it or hold it back or try to delay that swiftest of all things, but you let it slip away as though it were something superfluous and replaceable.

- Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Quote of the Day

You are living as if destined to live for ever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply — though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last. You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.

You will hear many people saying: ‘When I am fifty I shall retire into leisure; when I am sixty I shall give up public duties.’ And what guarantee do you have of a longer life? Who will allow your course to proceed as you arrange it? Aren’t you ashamed to keep for yourself just the remnants of your life, and to devote to wisdom only that time which cannot be spent on any business? How late it is to begin really to live just when life must end!

- Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

Monday, June 18, 2018

Quote of the Day

Men do not let anyone seize their estates, and if there is the slightest dispute about their boundaries they rush to stones and arms; but they allow others to encroach on their lives — why, they themselves even invite in those who will take over their lives. You will find no one willing to share out his money; but to how many does each of us divide up his life! People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.

- Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Quote of the Day

Life is long if you know how to use it. But one man is gripped by insatiable greed, another by a laborious dedication to useless tasks. One man is soaked in wine, another sluggish with idleness. One man is worn out by political ambition, which is always at the mercy of the judgment of others. Another through hope of profit is driven headlong over all lands and seas by the greed of trading.
Some are tormented by a passion for army life, always intent on inflicting dangers on others or anxious about danger to themselves. Some are worn out by the self-imposed servitude of thankless attendance on the great. Many are occupied by either pursuing other people’s money or complaining about their own. Many pursue no fixed goal, but are tossed about in ever-changing designs by a fickleness which is shifting, inconstant and never satisfied with itself.

- Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Wisdom Of The Week

You know who does really well on the Monty Hall problem? Pigeons. At least, pigeons quickly learn to switch doors when the game is repeated multiple times over 30 days and they can observe that switching doors is twice as likely to yield the prize.

This isn't some bias in favor of switching either, because when the condition is reversed so the prize is made to be twice as likely to appear behind the door that was originally chosen, the pigeons update against switching just as quickly.

Remarkably, humans don't update at all on the iterated game. When switching is better, a third of people refuse to switch no matter how long the game is repeated.

And when switching is worse, a third of humans keep switching.

I first saw this chart when my wife was giving a talk on pigeon cognition (I really married well). I immediately became curious about the exact sort of human who can yield a chart like that. The study these are taken from is titled Are Birds Smarter than Mathematicians?, but the respondents were not mathematicians at all.

Failing to improve one iota in the repeated game requires a particular sort of dysrationalia, where you’re so certain of your mathematical intuition that mounting evidence to the contrary only causes you to double down on your wrongness. Other studies have shown that people who don’t know math at all, like little kids, quickly update towards switching. The reluctance to switch can only come from an extreme Dunning-Kruger effect. These are people whose inability to do math is matched only by their certainty in their own mathematical skill.

Monty Hall in the Wild

Friday, June 15, 2018

Quote of the Day

Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it. Just as when ample and princely wealth falls to a bad owner it is squandered in a moment, but wealth however modest, if entrusted to a good custodian, increases with use, so our lifetime extends amply if you manage it properly.

- Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Quote of the Day

If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

- Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Quote of the Day

It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.

- Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Quote of the Day

It is one of the unexpected disasters of the modern age that our new unparalleled access to information has come at the price of our capacity to concentrate on anything much. The deep, immersive thinking which produced many of civilization's most important achievements has come under unprecedented assault. We are almost never far from a machine that guarantees us a mesmerizing and libidinous escape from reality. The feelings and thoughts which we have omitted to experience while looking at our screens are left to find their revenge in involuntary twitches and our ever-decreasing ability to fall asleep when we should.

- Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion

Monday, June 11, 2018

Quote of the Day

There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life — happiness, freedom, and peace of mind — are always attained by giving them to someone else.

- Peyton C. March