A thermodynamically optimal machine must balance memory against prediction by minimizing its nostalgia — the useless information about the past.
- David Sivak
- David Sivak
Such, however, is the case with many men of learning: they have read themselves stupid. For to read in every spare moment, and to read constantly, is more paralyzing to the mind than constant manual work, which, at any rate, allows one to follow one’s own thoughts.
Just as a spring, through the continual pressure of a foreign body, at last loses its elasticity, so does the mind if it has another person’s thoughts continually forced upon it. And just as one spoils the stomach by overfeeding and thereby impairs the whole body, so can one overload and choke the mind by giving it too much nourishment
- Arthur SchopenhaeurThe mind can only handle so much information, and you can’t expect to learn without application or reflection. I was approaching learning in the worst way possible: exposing it to so much information and knowledge that I ended up retaining almost nothing.
It’s important to take time to think about what we’re reading and not merely assume the thoughts of the author. We need to digest, synthesize, and organize the thoughts of others if we are to understand. This is the grunt work of thinking. It’s how we acquire wisdom.
This is how we acquire foundational knowledge. The knowledge that allows us to pull forth relevance when reading and bring it to consciousness. Without this foundational knowledge, we are unable to separate the signal from the noise.
- Shane Parrish- Don’t overdose on knowledge
take things like playfulness and purposelessness very seriously. . . . This is not meant to be light, but I think I would have somehow encouraged myself to let go a little bit more and hang in there and not pretend to know where this is all going. You don’t need to know where it’s all going.
‘There isn’t one novel thought in all of how Berkshire [Hathaway] is run. It’s all about … exploiting unrecognized simplicities… It’s a community of like-minded people, and that makes most decisions into no-brainers. Warren [Buffett] and I aren’t prodigies. We can’t play chess blindfolded or be concert pianists. But the results are prodigious, because we have a temperamental advantage that more than compensates for a lack of IQ points.’The simplicities that bring high performance in general, not just in investing, are largely unrecognised because they conflict with many evolved instincts and are therefore psychologically very hard to implement. The principles of the Buffett-Munger success are clear – they have even gone to great pains to explain them and what the rest of us should do – and the results are clear yet still almost nobody really listens to them and above average intelligence people instead constantly put their money into active fund management that is proved to destroy wealth every year!
‘I’d say the history that Charlie [Munger] and I have had of persuading decent, intelligent people who we thought were doing unintelligent things to change their course of action has been poor.’ Buffett.Even more worrying, it is extremely hard to take over organisations that are not run right and make them excellent.
‘We really don’t believe in buying into organisations to change them.’ - Buffett.
Systems vs. Goals
Scott helped me refocus, to use his language, on "systems" instead of "goals." This involves choosing projects and habits that, even if they result in "failures" in the eyes of the outside world, give you transferable skills or relationships. In other words, you choose options that allow you to inevitably "succeed" over time, as you build assets that carry over to subsequent projects.
Fundamentally, "systems" could be thought of asking yourself, "What persistent skills or relationships can I develop?" versus "What short-term goal can I achieve?" The former has a potent snowball effect, while the latter is a binary pass/fail with no consolation prize. Scott writes about this extensively in his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life.
My death will break the more direct relations between my present experiences and future experiences, but it will not break various other relations.Some people will remember him. Others may be influenced by his writing, or act upon his advice. Memories that connect with his memories, thoughts that connect with his thoughts, actions taken that connect with his intentions, will persist after he is gone, just inside different bodies.
This is all there is to the fact that there will be no one living who will be me. Now that I have seen this, my death seems to me less bad.After Parfit finished “Reasons and Persons,” he became increasingly disturbed by how many people believed that there was no such thing as objective moral truth. This led him to write his second book, “On What Matters,” which was published this summer, after years of anticipation among philosophers. (A conference, a book of critical essays, and endless discussions about it preceded its appearance, based on circulated drafts.) Parfit believes that there are true answers to moral questions, just as there are to mathematical ones. Humans can perceive these truths, through a combination of intuition and critical reasoning, but they remain true whether humans perceive them or not. He believes that there is nothing more urgent for him to do in his brief time on earth than discover what these truths are and persuade others of their reality. He believes that without moral truth the world would be a bleak place in which nothing mattered. This thought horrifies him.
We would have no reasons to try to decide how to live. Such decisions would be arbitrary. . . . We would act only on our instincts and desires, living as other animals live.He feels himself surrounded by dangerous skeptics. Many of his colleagues not only do not believe in objective moral truth—they don’t even find its absence disturbing. They are pragmatic types who argue that the notion of moral truth is unnecessary, a fifth wheel: with it or without it, people will go on with their lives as they have always done, feeling strongly that some things are bad and others good, not missing the cosmic imprimatur. To Parfit, this is an appalling nihilism.
Subjectivists sometimes say that, even though nothing matters in an objective sense, it is enough that some things matter to people. But that shows how deeply these views differ. Subjectivists are like those who say, “God doesn’t exist in your sense, but God is love, and some people love each other, so in my sense God exists.”Parfit is an atheist, but when it comes to moral truth he believes what Ivan Karamazov believed about God: if it does not exist, then everything is permitted.