A Message for Children About Climate Change by Scott Adams (Reblog)

Blinky_caughtDear Children,

I’m sorry adults have frightened you about climate change and how it might affect your future. You might be less afraid if you knew some facts that adults intentionally do not explain to you. I’ll tell you here.

The news was once a source of real information, or so we thought. But in the modern world, the news people discovered they can make more money by presenting scary news regardless of whether it is true or not. Today, much of the news on the right and the left is opinion that is meant to scare you, not inform you, because scary things get more attention, and that makes the news business more profitable. The same is true for people who write books; authors often make books scary so you will buy them. Most adults know all the scariness is not real. Most kids do not. You just learned it.

Nuclear energy used to be dangerous, back in the olden days. Today’s nuclear power plants (the ones built in the past 20 years all over the world) have killed zero people, and are considered the safest form of energy in the world. More people have died installing solar panels and falling off roofs than have died from nuclear power problems anywhere in the world for the past few decades. And nuclear energy is the obvious way to address climate change, say most of the smartest adults in the world, because it can provide abundant, cheap, clean energy with zero carbon emissions.

***Read the rest of the article here.

Be Judged by Reality (Not by Peers)

I recently finished reading two books by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Skin in the Game and Antifragile. Both are good books and I will have to go back to them to glean more of the ideas.

One idea Taleb puts forth often is how one should strive to be judged by reality rather than peers. Your peers will most likely not give you a realistic assessment of how you’re really doing. In fact, your peers will celebrate you, perhaps in the spirit of teamwork, without even knowing much about what you’re doing.

If you strive after the judgment of peers, you will tend to portray yourself in a way that generates positive reviews from your peers, even when those portrayals are less than true, which is most likely the case.

Reality will not treat you so kindly.

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If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death. -Code of Hammurabi #229

Taleb’s book Skin in the Game focuses on taking real risk in your endeavours, and if you have no skin in the game, you will build nothing worthwhile.

Over-eager politicians are very happy to usher in their version of paradise but will never suffer the consequences when their ideas fail. Their peers celebrate them and so they are encouraged. However, when reality proves them wrong, only those with skin in the game will pay the price.

A builder who is put to death if his building fails definitely has skin in the game. There is huge risk so he must be careful to be sure his construction is sound and safe and strong. He will be held personally responsible for his actions, no one else. Reality is a harsh judge, but it is a true judge.

I live and work in Cambodia and whenever a non-Cambodian tells me they’re going to come and build some new ministry in Cambodia, I ask them two questions: 1) How long are you planning on staying in Cambodia? 2) Are you going to train up Cambodians? If the person answers, “Maybe about 5 years,” and, “I’m going to focus on English speaking expats first, in order to build a core team, then focus on Cambodians after,” then I won’t pay much attention to them, and I won’t invest much or any of my time and resources into them. They have little skin in the game. They may be able to create an appearance of doing much in their short time in Cambodia, especially when posting creative photos on Facebook and being judged by their peers. Reality, however, will dissolve all their efforts in the long run.

Related reading:

Facebook Illusions

Like People, Like Priest

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Visionary Leaders Vs. Masters Part Five

dedicatedWhat do Visionaries & Masters Invest Into?

I once knew a woman who was starting up a new NGO project in S.E. Asia. When speaking of her work she said, “I’m a starter. I like to start things. Then I like to work myself out of a job. Once things are up and running, I get bored, so I hand the work over to someone else and go off and start something else.”

There are truly gifted visionaries out there who can do just what my friend described above, and the project they begin does indeed continue on under new leadership for many years. But, in my experience, more often than not, when someone says, “I’m a starter and then I’m gone…” what they’re really saying is, “I like to be around when things are new and exciting. Once the novelty wears off and things become more mundane (and difficult), I leave.”

Visionaries tend to invest into the New! and Exciting!; into a fleeting glory which quickly fades. The Visionary invests into what makes him look good in the here and now and into what the masses focus on and get excited about (and pour resources into) in the here and now.

The Master, however, invests into an undying glory which never fades, but is often hidden in dark places in the days of small things.

Visionary projects start off big, but that’s mostly an illusion. It’s like a sugar rush — lots of energy rapidly infused into a body, but then just as rapidly leaking out. There is nothing wrong with starting big, in fact it’s probably the better way to go, but is there a sustainable system ready to take over once the initial momentum dissipates?

When a Master invests into a new project, he does not think, “Okay, let’s throw a whole bunch of money at this thing, hype it up big, and add it to the list of our great accomplishments (regardless of wether it works or not).” No, a Master says, “I am investing into this project for the life of the project. I want to see this thing flourish, not just at the beginning when everyone is watching, but in the middle, and the end, after most initial investors have lost interest.”

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Read Visionary Leaders Vs. Masters Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four

 

Experts Say…

306335002_6437df303a_zIf I am trying to sell you one of two cameras which, although different brands, are exactly the same in quality and functionality, and I tell you that professional photographers prefer camera A over camera B, there’s a good chance you will then purchase camera A. And what I said about professionals preferring camera A doesn’t even have to be true, because you’ve already switched off the part of your brain in charge of critical-research thinking.

An actor playing a dentist in a toothpaste commercial will be trusted as an authority on which toothpaste to buy even when you know he’s just an actor. You ignore that fact because it’s not the focus of your thinking in the moment. The focus of your thinking is on making the decision.

It’s difficult for us to make decisions, especially when we are ignorant on the subjects of choice. What do you know about cameras? How much research are you going to have to do in order to make an informed decision? How much time do you have for that? So isn’t it nice when someone has done all the research for you and can simply tell you which option is better? Those people are the experts. Experts range in occupation from Technicians to Pastors.

And it’s great when you can trust the experts; when they’re not BS’rs. But you have to be careful when the expert, or the person in authority, may be using your ignorance and trust as a way to manipulate you.

How can you know?

  1. Always lean toward the possibility that the expert has an agenda unknown to you.
  2. Always ask, “Is this true?” and weigh that question against your own common sense. If something doesn’t make sense, it’s probably not true.
  3. Is what the expert saying leaning toward your own bias on the subject? Are you believing what he is saying simply because you want it to be true? Is it merely an appeal to your own selfish desires?
  4. Is what the expert saying qualified? Do other experts agree?
  5. Be prepared to do some of your own research, which, in the age of Google, isn’t too difficult.

Recommended reading: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini