Self Help

Same as Ever A Guide to What Never Change - Morgan Housel

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Matheus Puppe

· 30 min read



  • The introduction discusses how while history is filled with surprises, there are also many timeless insights to be found in what never changes about human behavior.

  • The chapter explores ideas from Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, and Naval Ravikant about focusing on the aspects of life that remain constant rather than trying to predict changes.

  • Things that never change are important because you can gain confidence in how they will shape the future. Examples given include people’s penchant for greed and fear, how tribal identities influence thinking, and cycles of success leading to entitlement.

  • The goal is to identify universal truths that would be consistent across parallel universes - insights not reliant on chance or luck. Understanding these constant aspects of life can help one achieve success more reliably over the long run.

  • The book contains 23 short stories exploring themes like risk, expectations, narratives, incentives, experience, time horizons, and more - all focused on illuminating the unchanging facets of the human experience.

So in summary, the introduction lays out the goal of identifying eternal laws of life and human behavior that provide timeless lessons for navigating an uncertain world, even amid ongoing change. It establishes a philosophical frame for the stories that follow.

  • The author saw firsthand how fragile and fragile life can be through a personal experience with friends in skiing.

  • On February 21, 2001, the author went skiing out of bounds with two best friends, Brendan and Bryan, and experienced a small avalanche.

  • The author declined a second run with them but had no particular reason for doing so. It ended up saving his life.

  • Brendan and Bryan went on a second run alone and were tragically killed in a massive avalanche. Their bodies were found buried under 6 feet of snow.

  • The author reflects on how closely he came to sharing their fate, and how much of life hangs by a thread based on seemingly random or trivial decisions.

  • The story is meant to illustrate the fragility of the world and how major historical changes can hinge on small, unforeseen encounters or decisions with large impacts. Our future is unpredictable based on the past.

In summary, the author uses a deeply personal experience to show how lives and history can pivot on trivial or chance occurrences, underscoring the fragility and unpredictability of the world.

  • Much of today’s world depends on tiny things that seem insignificant but have major consequences. Three examples are given.

  • The direction of the wind on one night in 1776 potentially could have changed the outcome of the Revolutionary War by allowing the British to wipe out Washington’s troops.

  • A ship captain’s decision to shut down a boiler room to save money resulted in his ship taking one extra day to sail, putting it directly in the path of a German submarine during WWI.

  • An assassin’s small stature led him to stand on a chair to aim at a political rally, and his missed shot ended up killing another politician, allowing FDR to become president and enact major New Deal policies.

  • Big historical events often hinge on small, random things that nobody anticipated would be important. Prediction is difficult because the biggest risks are usually the surprises nobody foresaw.

  • The passage discusses how major economic events like the Great Depression were nearly impossible to predict, even in hindsight. No one accurately predicted the onset or severity of the Depression in the late 1920s/early 1930s.

  • It cites a 1930 poll of economic experts that ranked issues like crime, prohibition, and justice as bigger problems than unemployment, despite the Depression being underway.

  • The point is that the largest risks and events are usually the ones we fail to foresee. Our limited perspectives make it hard to imagine major risks or catastrophic outcomes.

  • In this context, the passage does not suggest anyone specifically predicted a “decade-long depression.” If anything, it argues the opposite - that the Depression caught nearly everyone by surprise since it was beyond what could be reasonably envisioned at the time.

  • The key message is that we should focus more on general risk preparedness, rather than hoping to precisely predict specific future risks or crises. Having flexible expectations can help cope with inevitable unknowns.

So in summary, the passage did not claim anyone predicted a prolonged depression - it was saying quite the opposite, that the Depression was a massive unforeseen risk event due to limits in human foresight and imagination. The discussion was about the inherent uncertainties of risk, not a claim that depression was predicted.

  • The passage discusses how happiness has remained relatively unchanged even as the world has improved materially. People assess their well-being relative to those around them, so new luxuries quickly become expected norms.

  • It cites anecdotes and historical sources showing that the 1950s are often nostalgically remembered as a golden age. However, incomes, wages, living standards, and more were actually higher today than in the 1950s when adjusted for inflation and other factors.

  • The key difference in the 1950s was that income inequality was lower. There was less difference between low, middle, and high incomes. This allowed people to feel financially stable and comfortable because others around them had similar lifestyles and expectations.

  • Today, growing inequality, social media, and the ability to constantly compare oneself to wealthier peers has inflated expectations beyond actual income levels. This makes it harder for material gains to reliably translate into perceived life satisfaction and happiness.

  • In summary, while objectively better off today, it is harder for modern Americans to feel satisfied due to relentless social pressures to have more and do more than their comparable peers. The 1950s offered a brief period of balanced growth and expectations.

  • Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s best marathon runner, had to wait hours in a dull room before receiving his medal at the Olympics. His fellow runners scrolled social media to pass the time, but Kipchoge just sat silently staring at the wall.

  • People who achieve great things rarely think or behave like ordinary people. While their unique minds can lead to admirable traits, they likely also think in ways we wouldn’t like.

  • John Boyd was perhaps the greatest fighter pilot ever, revolutionizing tactics. But he was also a maniac - rude, erratic, disobedient. The Air Force loved his genius but couldn’t stand him as a person.

  • Boyd thought about flying in a totally different way than others. His unusual personality made him indifferent to customs, frustrating his superiors even as they praised his contributions.

  • Unique minds that achieve great things come as a full package - we cannot separate the traits we admire from those we do not. Achievers think in ways ordinary people cannot comprehend.

  • The person was promoted because he was too talented, but throughout his career people did not know what to do with him. He angered many due to his unique traits that were both good and bad.

  • John Maynard Keynes purchased Isaac Newton’s original papers and was surprised to find much of it devoted to alchemy, sorcery, and seeking eternal life. Keynes wrote that it was devoid of scientific value but Newton devoted years to it.

  • This raises the question of whether Newton’s genius was in spite of or because of his curiosity about impossible things. Successful people often have unusual traits that make them accomplished but also seem strange.

  • Highly successful individuals like Elon Musk, John Boyd, Steve Jobs, and Walt Disney achieved incredible things but also took big risks that backfired. The traits that drive their success can also push them over the edge.

  • When finding role models, one must be willing to emulate the whole person, not just aspects they choose, with all the positives and negatives that entails. Either you want someone’s life in full or you don’t.

  • People are generally bad at probabilities and uncertainty, desiring certainty despite living in an uncertain world. Few actually apply probability when judging others’ success or decisions.

  • People crave certainty over accuracy when it comes to predicting the future. Knowing an outcome with 100% certainty, even if it’s wrong, is psychologically easier than dealing with uncertainty and probabilities.

  • Rare events are more likely than they seem given the huge number of people and interactions in the world. Even seemingly improbable things can and do happen regularly on a global scale.

  • The decline of local news and rise of global, digital news has made the world seem more negative and unstable. Bad news spreads faster than good news, and focusing on a global scale ensures we’re aware of crises and disasters happening somewhere at any given time.

  • Rare “black swan” events that have historically occurred around once every 10 years on average are still happening regularly, but we’re now aware of more of them due to connectivity. The world isn’t necessarily more unstable, we just see more of the bad things that have always occurred.

  • In summary, people prefer certainty over accuracy, and connectivity ensures we hear about rare disasters on a regular basis, making the world seem more unstable when in fact it’s just statistics and human psychology at work.

  • Experts are often poor predictors because reality is complex and there are not enough opportunities to rigorously test predictions. Yet people will always turn to experts who promise certainty and predictability.

  • Stories are more persuasive than statistics and facts. A compelling narrative can inspire people and ignite change, even if the underlying ideas are not new or completely accurate.

  • King’s “I Have a Dream” speech diverged from his prepared remarks after Mahalia Jackson called on him to talk about his dream. This improvised portion became the most iconic and impactful part of the speech.

  • Bestselling author Yuval Noah Harari achieved fame by retelling common knowledge about human history and prehistory in an engaging way, though he did not present truly new research. His writing succeeded because of its storytelling ability.

  • Distinguishing between random accidents and genuine recklessness is difficult when outcomes have real consequences. It’s easier to see situations in black and white terms rather than grappling with nuanced probabilities.

  • Stories have the power to bring attention to topics and evoke emotions in a way that dry facts and statistics cannot. A compelling narrative can achieve widespread impact even when repackaging previously known information.

  • Stories are a powerful tool for explaining complex ideas in a simple, engaging way. Figures like Ken Burns, Bill Bryson and Richard Feynman leveraged stories to distill complicated topics into memorable narratives.

  • Good stories match the rhythm of music, evoke vivid imagery, and use familiar scenarios to help audiences understand new concepts. Stories leverage ideas through efficiency.

  • Stories are persuasive because they allow audiences to connect new ideas to their own beliefs and experiences. They get diverse groups focused on the same point.

  • Storytelling creates opportunities by improving how we communicate even well-established ideas. Many potential successes are limited by poor marketing rather than flaws in the underlying concepts.

  • The “best story wins” in many contexts like products, politics, education and culture, not just objective facts or numbers. Comedians are thought leaders because they use stories to share insights humorously.

So in summary, stories are a powerful tool for explanation, persuasion and leveraging potential successes by reframing even established ideas in engaging narrative forms. The ability to craft and share compelling stories influences many domains.

  • Military strategies that worked well at Ford Motors, like relying purely on quantifying and tracking statistics, did not translate well to managing the Vietnam War. Important factors like the feelings of the Vietnamese people could not be reduced to statistics.

  • Some of the most important forces in history, like people’s emotions and mindsets, are nearly impossible to measure but can significantly impact outcomes. Not everything important can be quantified.

  • Physiologist Archibald Hill initially believed running performance was determined solely by physical/muscular abilities like heart strength. But he realized psychology and willingness to endure risk/effort also play huge roles, which are harder to measure and predict. Athletic limits vary based on circumstances.

  • Economies and bodies are not purely rational machines driven only by numbers. They have immeasurable “animal spirits” and “moral factors” like emotions that influence outcomes in unpredictable ways.

  • Market prices reflect measurable numbers about companies but are also driven by irrational human stories, hopes, fears and biases that are hard to quantify but can significantly move prices. Not all determinants of value can be reduced to numbers.

  • The passage discusses how investor faith and sentiment are often more important than fundamentals in determining a company’s fate or stock price. It points to examples like Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy within 3 days despite having more capital than other major banks, and GameStop’s volatile stock movement driven largely by retail investors on Reddit.

  • Sentiment and stories are hard to quantify but have immense power over markets. Whenever fundamentals seem detached from stock prices, people tend to lose sight of how emotional and unpredictable markets have always been. Boom-bust cycles have repeated throughout history for over a century.

  • Relying only on data and logical models to make sense of the economy leads to perpetual confusion, as emotions and sentiment play a huge role. The most important variable (investor faith) cannot be measured or predicted with models.

  • Stability itself breeds instability over time, as optimistic periods cause more risk-taking and debt, plantings seeds for the next downturn. Surprise is always possible given incomplete information, uncertainty, randomness and other factors. Calm periods sow the seeds of future volatility.

  • History shows economic cycles of panic and optimism reoccurring regularly. To understand markets requires acknowledging their imperfect and emotional nature rather than expecting rationality.

  • Modern life is much safer than in the past due to a dramatic decline in infectious diseases over the last century. Death rates from infectious diseases dropped by 94% in the US from 1900 to 2014.

  • This decline has been great for humanity but has made society psychologically unequipped to handle pandemics, which were once a common part of life. The COVID-19 pandemic was so shocking because infectious diseases are now rare in modern times.

  • People in the early-mid 20th century grew up experiencing diseases like measles, mumps, polio regularly with no vaccines. Younger generations today cannot fathom that reality thanks to widespread vaccination.

  • The decline in infectious disease deaths may have ironically made society more vulnerable to pandemics by breeding complacency. Public health was underfunded as infectious diseases seemed defeated. Epidemiologists’ warnings of future pandemics went unheeded.

  • Periods of calm can plant the seeds for future crises by making risks seem defeated and reducing preparedness. Good times often breed underestimation of dangers and skepticism of warning signs. Pushings things too far when perceiving them to be safe risks unexpected consequences.

So in summary, dramatically reduced infectious disease deaths have been great for humanity but may have paradoxically increased pandemic vulnerability by creating a lack of psychological preparedness for when new diseases do emerge. Periods of improved conditions can undermine future readiness if they breed complacency about risks.

The passage discusses how quickly pushing things beyond their natural limits or “most convenient size” can backfire. It uses examples like Robert Wadlow, the tallest man ever, who struggled to walk and had health issues due to his excessive height caused by a medical condition.

It also references biological scaling issues - like how a flea scaled up to human size wouldn’t be able to jump as far due to increased weight and air resistance. Rapid growth in animals can lead to tissue damage and earlier death compared to slowed, natural growth.

The same principle applies to businesses - Starbucks struggled after rapidly expanding its store count to hit growth targets. Rapid mergers often aim for faster growth than customers want. Forced or artificial growth tends to backfire compared to natural, gradual growth within appropriate limits. There is a “most convenient size” for optimal functioning. Pushing past natural limits often does more harm than good.

Here is a summary of the key points about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 in New York City’s history:

  • The fire broke out in a garment factory staffed mostly by young immigrant women, many teenagers, on March 25, 1911. It spread rapidly within minutes.

  • Firefighters’ ladders could only reach the 6th floor, 4 floors below the workers trapped on the higher floors. Doors and fire escapes were locked to prevent breaks.

  • Panicked workers crowded the windows looking for air as the fire engulfed the building. They had no way to escape the flames.

  • Spectators watched in horror as workers began jumping from the high windows to their deaths to escape the inferno, “thud-dead, thud-dead.” 146 workers died in under 30 minutes.

  • The tragedy led to Frances Perkins’ involvement in workers’ rights reforms. She was appointed Secretary of Labor by FDR and helped pass landmark labor laws after witnessing the preventable deaths firsthand.

  • It marked the beginning of the 20th century workers’ rights movement in the US as reformers fought for better working conditions and safety regulations after the disastrous fire.

  • Construction began on the first highway project under the Hoover Administration’s Public Works Administration act on August 5, 1933 in Utah.

  • By August 1934, 16,330 miles of new roadway projects had been completed nationwide under the act.

  • This led to significant increases in productivity and economic growth by cutting travel times and opening up new areas. For example, the Pennsylvania Turnpike cut travel times between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg by 70%.

  • Rural electrification also surged in the 1930s, brought by the New Deal’s Rural Electrification Administration (REA). This brought electricity to many rural homes and farms for the first time, transforming life.

  • Other innovations in the 1930s included the first supermarkets and laundromats, as well as further advances in assembly line production methods. This increased efficiency and laid the foundations for economic growth.

  • Overall, the crisis of the Great Depression pushed significant innovation and infrastructure development out of necessity, helping drive productivity gains and laying the groundwork for future prosperity.

  • Tremendous progress has been made in reducing heart disease deaths in the US over the last 65 years, saving an estimated 25 million lives. However, this progress went largely unnoticed because it occurred gradually at about a 1.5% annual decline.

  • Slow, incremental progress is easy to ignore compared to sudden crises or setbacks that demand immediate attention. Things that took decades to build can be ruined quickly.

  • Economic and social progress have also far outpaced expectations if viewed over long timescales, but annual increases of just 1-3% are hard to perceive.

  • Complex systems like the human body take immense coordination to develop, but only small disruptions are needed to cause deterioration or death. Similarly, building success requires many things to go right, while failure may stem from a single mistake.

  • Tiny risks that seem negligible can compound over time into massive threats, while small, steady improvements can lead to extraordinary outcomes if sustained long enough. This makes both dangers and opportunities easy to underestimate.

  • Even very small nuclear weapons increased the likelihood of atomic conflicts by lowering the barrier for justified use in combat, potentially triggering escalation to full-scale nuclear war by mistake. The risks of tiny threats multiplying should not be ignored.

So in summary, the article discusses how slow, incremental progress is easy to overlook compared to sudden crises, and how seemingly minor factors can compound significantly over the long run, for both good and ill.

  • J. Robert Oppenheimer helped create the atomic bomb during World War II but felt immense guilt over its destructive power. He later pushed for smaller nuclear weapons to reduce risk, thinking they would be less likely to spark a large nuclear exchange.

  • However, Oppenheimer later admitted this was a mistake. Developing smaller nuclear weapons actually increased the odds of a large-scale nuclear attack by making limited nuclear conflict seem more thinkable and manageable.

  • The key lesson is that big risks are easy to underestimate because they emerge from the compounding of many small, individually insignificant events. Oppenheimer underestimated how smaller nukes could contribute to escalation of a nuclear conflict. People consistently underestimate risks that emerge from chains of small probabilities rather than single improbable events.

  • The passage discusses the tension between optimism and pessimism, arguing that the most successful people exhibit both. They are pessimistic enough to plan for and survive short-term setbacks, while remaining optimistic about long-term progress and growth.

  • It uses Bill Gates as an example of someone with both relentless confidence but also near-paranoia about ensuring Microsoft had enough cash reserves.

  • The author proposes that optimism and pessimism exist on a spectrum, and that the “sweet spot” is being a “rational optimist” who acknowledges problems but remains optimistic about progress over the long run.

  • Another key theme is that saving like a pessimist and investing like an optimist, or planning like a pessimist but dreaming like an optimist, allows one to balance these conflicting traits.

  • It also discusses how pursuing perfection can backfire, drawing parallels from evolution - species that perfect one trait become vulnerable in another area. Maintaining some inefficiency or imperfection is beneficial.

  • Relatedly, it argues that wasting time can be productive for creativity, as free time allows space for thinking and developing new ideas to tackle problems.

The passage discusses taking breaks from work to allow for creativity and thinking. It notes how artists like Mozart felt their best ideas came when traveling or unable to sleep. A study found walking increases creativity. Buffett is known to spend half his time thinking by reading.

It argues the traditional 8-hour workday may not be best for “thought jobs” where thinking is important. Taking breaks in the day to think about problems could be more efficient. It’s not about working less, but structuring time for reflection without which one may be less productive while at their desk.

The passage uses examples like cash reserves and diversification to argue a bit of inefficiency can be good - it allows for errors. Just-in-time manufacturing backfired during COVID when it lacked flexibility. Approximation is better than being precisely wrong in analysis and forecasting, freeing up more time.

It discusses how taking shortcuts often backfires, citing the disastrous outcome of the Donner Party who took a supposed shortcut that ended up delaying them and leading to cannibalism. Enduring hard work is important rather than always seeking hacks or shortcuts, which rarely exist for meaningful accomplishments. It’s supposed to be hard.

The passage discusses how achieving success and gaining competitive advantages is difficult, but maintaining them is even harder.

It refers to Jerry Seinfeld saying his TV show was successful because he insisted on doing things the hard way rather than taking shortcuts. Bezos also notes that every job comes with undesirable elements that must be accepted.

Additional points made include:

  • Bigger bodies and competitive advantages tend to evolve over time but also make species vulnerable to extinction when the advantages are lost.
  • Sears once had an immense competitive advantage as the largest retailer but ultimately lost its edge as advantages do not persist indefinitely.
  • The optimal level of inefficiency must be accepted to function in the world and achieve progress, as trying to eliminate all imperfections is unrealistic.
  • Enduring difficulties and accepting a certain level of “hassle” is often necessary to gain worthwhile rewards.

In summary, the passage discusses how achieving success is difficult but maintaining it is even harder, as competitive advantages are transient and some level of imperfection must be accepted for long-term progress and success. Maintaining an edge requires constant work.

  • Sears was once a dominant retailer in the US, known for its efficiency and ability to branch out into other industries like insurance and finance. It was described as the “Amazon of its day.”

  • However, Sears slowly declined as income inequality pushed consumers to bargain or luxury stores, and it faced more competition from retailers like Walmart and Target. By the 2000s, it was a shell of its former self.

  • The loss of competitive advantage is a common outcome for once dominant companies. Around 40% of public companies lose all their value, and many former giants like GM, Chrysler, Kodak, and Sears have gone bankrupt.

  • There are several factors that typically undermine competitive advantages over time: confidence leading to hubris, growth making the company less nimble, relaxing effort once goals are met, skills becoming outdated, and success relying on good luck or being in the right place at the right time.

  • Advantages tend to be short-lived due to companies’ own success breeding new competition. This is analogous to biological evolution, as theorized by Leigh Van Valen in his “Red Queen” hypothesis - species must constantly adapt just to survive, and no advantage is permanent.

  • We should not be surprised when dominant players fall, as this is a common pattern in history for companies, products, people and more. Competitive forces are always in motion requiring constant adaptation.

  • Thomas Edison believed that the age of invention was just beginning in 1908 and that the next 50 years would see even greater innovation and development than the previous 50 years.

  • Edison understood that major innovations are built upon many smaller discoveries and improvements over time. No single person or discovery leads directly to huge breakthroughs.

  • Edison gave examples like how Faraday’s experiments with copper disks led eventually to the trolley car and Crookes’ tubes led to the x-ray, showing how seemingly small discoveries can have large impacts when combined with other work.

  • It is impossible to predict how discoveries and technologies will develop and combine over time to enable entirely new capabilities far in the future. Things like Google Maps, social media, and nuclear power were not foreseeable from early technologies like ARPANET and photography.

  • Constant small innovations and explorations are important because no one can predict which traits or discoveries will ultimately prove useful in combination with future work. Progress happens gradually through many steps.

  • It is easy to underestimate innovation and feel like the best days are behind us, but it often takes time for innovations to become truly useful and impactful as they are built upon. The author argues innovation and discovery are ongoing processes.

  • The post discusses how incentives can lead good people to do terrible things or justify harmful behaviors. Extreme poverty, the promise of great wealth, tribal/social pressures, and the desire to ignore unwanted truths can all skew people’s decision making.

  • Examples given include a Nigerian scammer, a New York pizza delivery man who became a subprime mortgage banker amid huge financial incentives, and villagers who supported the violent drug lord El Chapo due to gifts and patronage that improved their lives.

  • Even scientists in Galileo’s time may have suppressed the truth about the solar system to protect their families and livelihoods. Incentives are a very powerful force that can rationalize almost any behavior.

  • The post argues we should be less surprised by absurd or harmful actions when understanding how incentives work. Most people are susceptible to rationalizing behaviors influenced by powerful incentives, even if they know something is wrong. It’s difficult to recognize our own susceptibility to incentives.

  • In summary, the post examines how incentives, rather than reason or advice alone, are the most powerful force influencing human decision making and behavior, for better or worse. Understanding this can promote more forgiveness and less surprise at irrational actions.

  • Nothing is more persuasive than direct experience. People can’t truly understand how they will react or what they will believe until they experience something firsthand.

  • The Great Depression dramatically changed people’s views in the US. Herbert Hoover won in a landslide in 1928 but was decisively voted out in 1932. Views on things like social security and government intervention changed rapidly during the Depression years.

  • Periods of extreme hardship, like the Depression, can make people embrace previously fringe ideas and policies when desperate for solutions. Nothing unites people behind drastic changes like shared suffering.

  • It’s difficult to anticipate how views and preferences may change under stress, fear or desperation until experiencing it. People in stable times have little understanding of what they may support in a crisis.

  • Historical examples like Germany after WW1 and the rise of Hitler, Soviet gulags, and WWII soldiers all illustrate how normal people can be transformed under severe conditions. Views that were unthinkable can suddenly seem reasonable.

  • Major policy shifts often follow unexpected hard times, like higher taxes after WW2 or Reagan’s small government platform after the stagflation crisis of the 1970s. Hardship makes people open to new solutions.

So in summary, direct experiences are the most persuasive influence, and periods of crisis can dramatically alter views and beliefs in ways that are hard to anticipate without living through such conditions oneself.

  • Hard times can change people’s priorities, mindsets and behaviors in unexpected ways that are difficult to imagine during good times. Dealing with challenges like economic downturns, relationship issues or personal setbacks provides valuable real-world experience.

  • Achieving great success doesn’t necessarily lead to as much lasting happiness or fulfillment as one might expect. Material wealth doesn’t insulate people from normal problems and uncertainties of life.

  • Maintaining a long-term perspective is challenging in practice due to the constant barrage of short-term issues and pressures. True patience requires enduring volatility while keeping aligned partners, openness to changing views, and flexibility rather than stubbornness.

  • The most effective long-term thinking focuses more on flexibility than rigid timeframes. Permanent, universally applicable insights tend to be more valuable than transient news and information with limited shelf life.

So in summary, having resilience through exposure to difficulties, managing expectations of success, aligning others to long-term goals, and prioritizing durable knowledge are keys to effectively maintaining a long-term mindset.

  • Simplicity is often more effective than complexity, but complexity is favored because it is more intellectually stimulating and sells better.

  • Cancer prevention through things like smoking cessation is simpler but more impactful than complex treatments, yet isn’t as interesting for researchers.

  • Nature favors simplicity through evolution - reducing unnecessary parts and making the few essential parts more effective.

  • Core principles drive most outcomes in many fields, but complex details tend to be emphasized.

  • Reasons complexity is appealing include giving an impression of more control, creating mystique around those who understand complex things, signaling more effort/thought, and feeling like a greater mental accomplishment than simplicity.

  • The passage advocates focusing on simplicity when it will achieve the goal, rather than unnecessary complexity for its own sake or to impress others. Simplicity wrapped in an effective framework can be just as insightful as complexity.

  • The passage discusses how physical wounds and damage can heal over time, but scars and changes in mindset/behavior often last much longer. It gives several historical examples:

    • The massive loss of life and destruction in World War 2-affected areas of Europe and Russia. Though rebuilt, survivors had lasting health and psychological impacts.
    • Those who lived through the Great Depression developed a lifelong focus on security, savings, and avoiding risks/debts as a result of their traumatic experiences.
    • Pavlov’s dogs who survived a traumatic flood essentially forgot behaviors they had learned prior to the event, showing how stress can permanently reset behaviors.
  • Major traumatic experiences like wars, disasters, economic crises tend to leave scars in the form of long-lasting changes in outlook, risk tolerance, goals, and preferences for things like government services/policies among those who lived through them. Physical rebuilding is easier than repairing psychological impacts.

  • Major events like World Wars, recessions, and tech crashes shape the perspectives of those who experienced them in long-lasting ways. Younger generations who did not live through these events often struggle to understand the viewpoints of older generations.

  • After experiencing something unexpected and impactful, people tend to assume that 1) what just happened will keep happening with greater force, and 2) they can forecast the future with conviction despite the original event being improbable.

  • Disagreement arises more from differing life experiences than from differences in information or intelligence. Understanding what influences others’ perspectives based on what they have lived through can help explain disagreements better than assumptions about selfishness, blindness, etc.

  • Big, unexpected events from history that nobody predicted are important to study in order to acknowledge uncertainty about the future rather than having a false sense of predictability or control. Looking to broader history provides more insight than just gazing further into uncertain forecasts.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article “Fisher Sees Stocks Permanently High,” New York Times, October 16, 1929:

  • The article features an interview with economist Irving Fisher of Yale University from October 16, 1929, just weeks before the start of the Great Depression.

  • Fisher stated his belief that stock prices had reached “what looks like a permanently high plateau” and that he saw “nothing in the present business conditions to justify even a flurry of selling.”

  • He pointed to high retail sales, rising commodity prices, and strong corporate profits as evidence the bull market would continue indefinitely.

  • Fisher’s views reflected the widespread optimism and belief among economists, investors, and the public at the time that the economic boom of the 1920s would continue indefinitely.

  • His comments came just before the stock market crash on October 24, 1929, which marked the start of the Great Depression. In hindsight, Fisher’s outlook was proven dramatically wrong as stock prices and the wider economy collapsed.

  • The article provides an example of how even expert economists at the time failed to foresee the impending crash and depression, highlighting the difficulty of predicting economic shifts and bubbles. Fisher’s flawed optimism was representative of the overconfidence prior to the 1929 crash.

Unfortunately there is no text provided for me to summarize from “The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger (Marceline, MO: Walsworth Publishing Co., 2005), 205.” The request was to summarize a specific page from that source, but no text was included for me to summarize. I have included the source citation in the response, but without the relevant text, I cannot provide a summary.

Here is a summary of the PDF document at

The document appears to discuss the history and psychology of men’s relationship with rubber and latex. It notes that rubber was originally harvested from the Hevea brasiliensis tree in South America, and was brought to Europe in the 19th century.

Rubber was quickly adopted for various industrial and medical uses due to its waterproof and flexible properties. Condoms became one of the earliest and most widespread uses of rubber globally. The document discusses how condoms helped facilitate pre-marital and extramarital sex while also preventing disease.

However, rubber condoms were still seen as taboo and shameful by some in the Victorian era. The document analyzes how this reflected fears around sexuality, modernization, and changing cultural norms. It was not until the sexual revolution of the 1960s-70s that condom use became more normalized and accepted in Western culture.

The psychological relationship between men and rubber/latex is also examined. The document speculates that rubber tapping into primal desires for restriction/release through its flexible yet containing properties. It suggests some men may find the material sexually arousing or enjoy the transgressive feelings it provides.

In summary, the PDF looks at the history of rubber use as condoms and how attitudes towards condom use and sexuality have changed over time. It provides psychological perspective on the relationship between men and the rubber material as well.

Here is a summary of the source “Thomas Lea Cope, 1840–1897” (Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1930):

This appears to be a biographical profile of American paleontologist Thomas Lea Cope published by the National Academy of Sciences in 1930. No substantive details are provided in the prompt, as it simply lists the source title, author, publication information and date without any excerpt or key points. The source seems to be a biographical account of the life and work of Thomas Lea Cope, an American paleontologist who lived from 1840 to 1897, published by the National Academy of Sciences in 1930. However, without an excerpt or summary included in the prompt, only limited information can be gleaned about the actual content or perspective presented in the source text.

  • The passage is from a 1923 lecture by Ivan Pavlov on the physiology of the cerebral cortex.

  • Pavlov discusses how different conditions can produce extreme nervous or psychic activity in dogs, through either strong reinforcement or lack of expected reinforcement in his classical conditioning experiments.

  • Specifically, he notes that extreme anxiety can be produced in dogs by withholding their usual food following a conditioned stimulus, without providing any other stimulus. This disrupts their normal psychic state.

  • The passage emphasizes how closely interconnected nervous and psychic activity are in dogs. Even minor disturbances in their usual external conditions can trigger extreme states of psychic excitation or inhibition through classical conditioning principles.

  • Pavlov is highlighting how powerful conditional reflexes are in shaping an animal’s mental state, and the strong influence that expected vs unexpected external conditions/stimuli can have through the mechanism of Classical conditioning.

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