How to Predict the Future in an Uncertain World

The speed of light is 299 792 458 m/s. The speed of sound is a mere 343 m/s. One consequence of this difference is that during extreme weather conditions, we tend to see lightning before…

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Rationality

Artificial intelligence theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky defines rationality in one of two ways: epistemic rationality and instrumental rationality. The first concerns itself with what we think of as the truth — making sure that our beliefs about reality…

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What Does It Take to Live a Full Life?

There are three competing theories behind why the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche went insane: the first, the most popular, is that he contracted Neurosyphilis; the second, based on a study of his medical records, suggests…

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The Three Levers of Productivity

It is often said that economics is the study of how we relate to scarce resources with alternative uses. There are only so many raw materials in the world, and they become what we collectively…

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The Difference Between Being Alone and Being Lonely

“All of humanity’s problems,” the philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in his Pensees, “stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” “What should young people do with their lives today?” Kurt Vonnegut wondered…

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Better to Think Clearly Than to Think Deeply

In 1994, John Meriwether started a hedge fund named Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM). In 1998, it had to be bailed out for $3.6 billion. By 2000, the fund was liquidated and then dissolved. But it’s…

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Seeing the Invisible Strings That Shape Reality

Scientists have known for a while now that galaxies within a few million light-years of distance can affect each other in predictable ways. Gravity is a powerful force, and in local clusters, it makes itself…

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Networked Reading and Thinking Like a Polymath

Imagine that the year is 1985. Imagine that you are a 25-year-old. Let’s say that you have a choice between investing $20,000 into a balanced portfolio, or investing only $5,000 and then using the rest…

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The Three Modes of Self , and Which Is Best

Nobody really knows when the Tao Te Ching was written. Nobody really knows why it was written. What we have is a single name: Lao Tzu. That name can roughly be translated into “Old Master.”…

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The Experience Paradox: Is Life a Game or a Drama?

One of the most famous philosophers of the 20th century, ironically, thought that the discipline of philosophy was mostly useless. Over the years, Ludwig Wittgenstein studied logic at Cambridge University, taught in Eastern Europe, built…

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