APPARENT TRUTH
  Karl Arnold Belser
17 April 2018



The article Some Things I Am Pretty Sure About has a nice summary of apparent truths about human behavior. I want to elaborate on some of these truths.  

I am interested in improving my own behavior as I have discussed in my previous posts Thinking Errors (2013), False Positive Probabilities (2014), Tail Risks (2015), Margin of Safety (2016), and Risk of Ruin (2017).

1. SOCIAL PROOF

Tell people what they want to hear and you can be wrong indefinitely without penalty. Confirmation is in much higher demand than information.


Social Proof and Confirmation Bias are rampant in the politically correct society today. The problem is that the government may implement policies to try to make things like they are not, nor ever will be. See my post on Cloning that suggests that it is nature not nurture that causes a living thing to be what it is.

2. SKIN IN THE GAME

Most snake oil salesmen believe in their snake oil, because the intersection of needing a paycheck and needing to look yourself in the mirror with pride can be stronger than reason. To paraphrase Kahneman, it’s easier to recognize other people’s flaws than your own.

I talk about conflict of interest in my post Tail Risk. This is the core issue in the Principle-Agency Problem. One should always be aware of potential conflict of interest.

As one gets richer this conflict might get worse per the following quote.

Some of the richest people are the worst money managers I’ve seen. When money loses the power of scarcity you stop caring about leaks that are meaningful when you’re poorer. And when your life gets complicated you’re more likely to outsource decisions to middlemen who may not have your best interest at heart. It’s an overlooked irony. “Enough money to care but not enough to not care” is the sweet spot for management.

3.  CAUSES OF RUIN

Things that cause permanent blindness: Luck attributed to skill; Losses that cause a lifestyle downgrade or fewer career options; Unshakable political beliefs that influence investment decisions; Building a reputation on a single belief that you can’t distance yourself from
.

The key here is to recognize the risks and just say NO.

Few superpowers are as super as the ability to change your mind. It is so much easier to fool yourself into believing a falsehood than admit a mistake.


4. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Investing is one of the simplest fields run by people who believe in their souls that they’ll do better if they make it more complicated.


System architects, like myself, know that every added step or complexity adds uncertainty. It is best to keep very close to first principles like PE Ratios, High Dividend Payout and a long track record. The more risk one takes the more likely is failure.

The same traits needed for outlier success are the same traits that increase the odds of failure. The line between bold and reckless is thin. So be careful blindly praising successes or criticizing failures, as they often made similar decisions with slightly different levels of luck.


See my post Luck and the Paradox of Skill.

5. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

The biggest social problems are opioids, student debt, media distrust, and affordable housing. These are generation-defining issues whose economic incentive to solve is dwarfed by the harm they cause.


One must be smart enough to avoid excessive student debt. Not everyone needs a college education, but there are activities that they might do that better fit their capabilities. See my post The Student Loan Dilemma.

If one takes on too much debt and wastes time going to school, one might not have enough money to afford good housing are anything else. Further if the media insists that you are a victim, you might give up and start doing drugs to escape the purgatory you have entered.

The way out is first to tell the truth about your situation , accept that truth and go after the results that one can actually achieve. This is my Infinite Growth process that is described in my essay 7 Steps to Personal Growth. I have used this process continuously in my live to handle many issue such as divorce, and loss of vision.
    
Last updated April 17, 2018
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