Newton said there's inertia in the universe, so we now know more about our world and physics is better for it. That's not the inertia we're talking about here. Forget the universe for a second - focus on inertia in your mind.
Mental or spiritual inertia is a real thing. We won't try to define it here, but everyone who has experienced it knows what it is. It's when
Here are some examples of using interim in your own favor and taking quick, small, but intense bursts forward in whatever you'd like to achieve:
Focus on primary news sources when consuming news - don't let others do the filtering and thinking for you
We have come to the point of absurdity in terms of news consumption - far too many people consume news from secondary (or tertiary) sources instead of going directly to primary sources. This is tragic because primary sources are more easily-available today via the internet than ever before.
What are primary news sources?
Primary news sources include the following:
There are implicit (sometimes explicit) biases in secondary and tertiary news source
Secondary and tertiary sources take primary source information and do things to it - this may include analysis, synthesis, etc., but, all secondary and tertiary sources include something extra. That extra stuff can be incredibly useful and interesting, but it is also removed from the primary source in some way.
In today's world, a lot of news-related secondary (and tertiary sources) still provide interpretation, summarization, and synthesis. However, they also very often add in heavy doses of bias. This bias may be implicit or explicit, but it seems to be ever more present as Big Media can leverage Big Data and create far more granular approach; social networks like Facebook and Twitter do this too. Where 25 years ago, everyone tuned in to the same few news channels on TV, today, every single person in the Western world can have a customized/tailored Facebook or Twitter feed. These feeds can become deeply biased as a result of tech firms' attempts to get more eyeballs for longer periods of time.
Watching primary news can seem very strange to a person who only consumes secondary and tertiary news sources. The initial reaction can vary, but it is often one of surprise at how different and "more real" consuming primary news it. People are surprised at how the world really is vs. how they typically see the world presented in heavily-biased secondary and tertiary news sources.
Primary news sources lead to clearer perspectives on what really is happening in the world
To have a clear mind and understand the world, one can't rely only on secondary and tertiary news sources. Especially terrible is relying on free secondary and tertiary news sources - in these cases, the reader is, in fact, the product and the source of the secondary or tertiary news have no real responsibility to the reader (either from a moral, fiduciary, or economic perspective). This, however, is a topic for another time.
in darkness, I see a starkness
a starkness unlike the one I knew before
in gloom, I see a boom
a boom unlike the one I knew before
in pain, I see a gain
a gain unlike the one I knew before
in fierceness, I see a nearness
a nearness unlike the one I knew before
in animals, I see a spirit
a spirit unlike the one I knew before
a spirit not frail nor afraid of hail
the kind that does not fail and will set sail
on waters fierce or dumb
by Pennies and Pounds
Written on May 8, 2017, this poem is under copyright and is the intellectual property of the creator of the poem and this website. Express permission is required to reproduce or distribute it - please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for such approval.
Most people in history created their livelihood -- either by creating income or by actually producing the necessities of life with their own hand and toil -- within family or communal units. The idea of working at a job for a larger entity such as a corporation is extremely new in the grand swath of human history. In effect, almost all of the people who ever lived could in effect be classified as small business owners - this is even true today as most US employment comes still from sole proprietorships or small businesses.
Why is it useful to understand the history of work/labor?
This idea is very important to people living in modern societies because we have a view within our minds that is quite different from reality. Many people believe that:
Going beyond the present day and having at least a basic conception of the things our ancestors did to create substance and value in their ancient worlds will assist in opening up your mind to new opportunities, new ways of combining life with work, and new ways of creating value for others.
Hunting and Gathering - The First Sole Proprietorships
For most of our history, we hunted meat and gathered fruits and vegetables to feed our families and our very tight-knit communities. The lifestyle involved simply waking up with the sun, looking for food during the day, and resting in the evening. Bedtime was when it became dark and no hunter-gatherer had to plan very far ahead.
The first really interesting thing to think about when thinking about how hunter-gatherers provided for themselves is how there were almost never any intermediaries. Besides the possibility of occasional trade within tight-knit communities, hunter-gatherers had what can be considered a two-step method to getting what they wanted. In terms of purity of execution, this was the most basic/fundamental way of obtaining food and water - a hunter gather would literally expend energy in order to obtain the final product he/she sought.
The second interesting thing arises from the first - hunter-gatherers didn't create value for other human beings in order to achieve their goals. Of course, a hunter-gather might want to provide for his family and create value in that pursuit, but that's not what we mean here. What we mean is that hunter-gatherers either went to pick edible growings or killed animals in order to obtain sustenance. In that pursuit they did not serve any other human being in any way - they simply went out into the world and obtained what they needed from it. Contrast that with today's world where we almost exclusively have to earn our livings by creating value for other people, be they your employees or your customers (which are also your employers in a sense). We're not making a normative statement here - we're simply making a descriptive statement.
The third very interesting thing about thinking of the working hunter-gatherers performed is that they had a direct understanding of how their efforts and skills translated into the final product they obtained. Of course, hunter-gatherers likely had some sort of quasi-religious beliefs where they imbued objects, the weather, etc. with spiritualistic aspects and they might have relied on them to provide. However, that doesn't detract from the simple physics of hunting and gathering - every hunter-gatherer must have understood how it was their own physical efforts out in the world that were the proximate cause of their gain. They could have thought the ultimate cause came from the skies or from the tree spirits or elsewhere, but they surely understood that the proximate cause was their own effort - they surely understood that without themselves leaving their cave, picking growing, or killing an animal and dragging it home, their families would not have food to eat. Contrast that with today's modern corporate worker who works in a corporate office or campus and who has
These complex factors can include things such as
Yes, a person's well-being still depends on themselves and everyone must take responsibility for their lives - you must work hard and well so that you're able to do well in your job and in life. However, it is abundantly clear that the level of mental control that a person feels over his or her method of meeting wants/needs should have been far greater in the past than in today's complex and interconnected environment where so much of the economy is not visible or understandable by a single individual.
This understandability of relationship between soil and result could be psychologically beneficial to human beings on many levels. This isn't a psychology website and we're not purporting to have any theoretical or empirical underpinning for these statements, but it does seem to make sense that an individual who has a clear "a leads to b" understanding of the relationship between toil and result -- as opposed of "a to b to c to d to a BLACK BOX to e to f to g" understanding -- would have greater psychological comfort and less psychological stress.
In no way is above supposed to make you envy a hunter-gatherer - we live in a far richer world (both physically and mentally) than our ancestors and anyone who would want to give up today's peace, today's luxury, and today's comfort for a hungry dangerous life of basic subsistence and survival is a quite unusual person.
Agricultural Revolution and Farming
After many centuries of foraging, humans ended up farming. This happened gradually over the course of centuries as well, but the end result was the literal transformation of human life from a nomadic existence to a settled life that would be far more familiar to the modern person.
Although life transformed as well as the approach fro providing for it, humans still operated at a family or communal level - humans still remained in effect small business owners. The business changed, of course humans went from hunting and gathering to
Humans mainly operated as family units after the agricultural revolution according to current historical data with larger family-based communities existing for things that went beyond the family. In effect, each household ran a small farming business that employed the entire household from a relatively young age by today's standards.
Here people had a bit more complexity - their toil no longer immediately translated into value creation (eg. food to eat) but had to go through the intermediate step of waiting for the seeds to grow into plants. The same is true for livestock - farmers and heard had to wait for livestock to grow and spend time and energy on breeding instead of just going out into the wild to kill game.
We can see that from hunting and gathering to farming -- things which make up by far the vast majority of human existence -- we operated in very small-scale communities and were in effect creating our livelihoods within our family units. In effect, all hunter-gatherers and farmers until the Industrial Revolution turned farming into big business can be classified as small business owners in the very broad sense of the world. These individuals worked primarily for themselves and their families. Farmers in certain eras might have had to pay taxes to lords or barons or other elites, but these can be thought of as quasi-taxes. Almost all of humanity did not know the meaning of providing your labor (either in the form of physical or mental exertion) to another individual in return for some sort of payment - this was the case for many reasons, one of which was an economy that was so poor that it could not sustain such interactions in a meaningful way.
Artisans and Craftsmen - Sole Proprietors Throughout History
Beyond farming, there have been at times in history a class or artisans or craftsman. This class developed after the Agricultural Revolution as settled communities were needed in order for this class of people to arise. They mainly operated in larger cities and they ran what can be considered small businesses. The words "artisan" and "craftsman" is too narrow, however, as these individuals operated a large variety of business. These businesses including:
All of the above can also be classified as small businesses. They are more like the small businesses we think of today - instead of directly producing their own livelihoods, these artisans and craftsmen would set up shop and serve their communities. They would very likely have most of their family involved in the business and live either close by or directly above their shops.
The Modern Working World
Although the majority of US jobs still come from small businesses, most people think of work as something you do in a large-scale setting such as a corporation. Most people even aspire to such work.
This work is quite different than operating a small business because it involves providing your labor to a larger entity that you do not control and likely can never fully understand (not even the CEO of a large firm fully understand what's really going on). This creates a sort of "black box" effect where you provide your labor into a "black box" and then some income is given to you. You aren't totally sure about the actual value you're creating for the firm and you don't fully understand how your labor fits into the bigger puzzle.
There are of course many benefits working in jobs - most of these benefits come from a certain stability that is not always present in running a small business. However, there might be some psychological costs that affect a person in the following ways:
Working in a job might make a person blind to other small but very profitable opportunities where their skills might be used. They might not ever consider opening their own business, running their own website, consulting on their own, or providing value on a small scale. This is unfortunate because it is in such small setting where you are able to capture the full value of your efforts (instead of the employer capturing most of the value). This is really how people get rich today - most people will never get rich working for a job and saving a large portion of their income; the vast majority of people in our world get rich in entrepreneurial activities.
Some Examples of Employment Throughout History
Although most people worked for themselves throughout history, there were some interesting examples of employment throughout history. Here are a few:
We live in a world of massive amounts of data. You've likely heard the term "Big Data" many times before, but it's far beyond this and you probably don't have a full grasp of how amazing our modern and connected world (mainly the developed 1st world) is today.
In the year 248 AD, Rome celebrated its 1000th anniversary - it had been 1000 years since the founding of Rome. More data is created in one year today than was created in those 1000 years of the Roman Republic and Empire. This is an astonishing fact that should bring a sense of awe to every intelligent and curious person - humanity is creating absolutely vast amounts of all kinds of data today.
What kind of data?
Here are just a few examples of the kinds of data creation that take place every day - that takes place very second every second:
The list above is meant to be broad in order to demonstrate the broad swath of things from which data is created today. Data can be created by governments or big corporations, but data can just as easily be created by small businesses and individuals during their everyday tasks and processes.
The above list is just a tiny example - almost anything remotely automated or electronic creates some sort of data today.
A Key Question
If we have an exponentially larger amount of data today than in the past, why aren't we exponentially smarter today as a society? Sure, the size of our economy as measured by GDP or GNP is much larger than at any point in history, but we can still see that we haven't moved that far way from past societies and civilizations in terms of the things that are most important to humanity.
Going further, why aren't businesses incredibly smart if we have so many data available? So many small and medium sized businesses today still operate under the same paradigms as businesses of the past. The problem is that even though there are tremendous amounts of data (and easy ways to collect more), the data isn't being productively used. The data is just sitting there. It's easy to collect data - it's hard to use it effectively.
What you really need isn't data - it's intelligence. You don't need a data dump on your hard drive or a stream of data flowing in at many GBs a second - you need to know how to turn whatever data you do have (hopefully it's quality data) into intelligence. This is what the human mind does - it turns raw data from sensory inputs into intelligence via the brain.
To better illustrate the importance of intelligence and the inadequacy fo data alone, let's imagine a fictional scenario. Imagine giving an ancient hunter-gatherer tribe all of the data available today on a giant supercomputer. Of course, they won't be able to access that data, but let's ignore that for a second and imagine that SOMEHOW that ancient tribe could in fact access all of this vast data. Do you think that things would really change for that tribe? It is likely that the tribe would be incapable of utilizing the data in any way and creating any actionable intelligence from it - they wouldn't have either the mathematical/statistical sophistication to extract much meaning from it and they wouldn't have the background landscape required to absorb and process the data in appropriate and meaningful contexts.
The Definition of Data
Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines data as follows:
1. factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation <the data is plentiful and easily available — H. A. Gleason, Jr.> <comprehensive data on economic growth have been published — N. H. Jacoby>
2. information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful
3. information in numerical form that can be digitally transmitted or processed
We define data in simpler terms:
Data are discreet units of information that provide some evidence of something in the real world
Data isn't something complicated. Although we might take a technological slant in our mind when thinking about data today, data can come in many forms. Data can be written on a stone tablet, on a piece of papyrus, on a piece of paper, or by tying knots using a string to keep track of things. Data can come in magnetic form as on credit cards. Data can come from CDs and DVDs or data can be stored on a flash drive. Data isn't technological - data is just information but technology has helped us gather and store vast amounts of it.
One of the key features of data is that it gives us some sort of information about the real world. This is due to the fact that data arises from the real world. The only way data can be created is by somehow recording some aspect of the outside world in some sort of storage mechanism. That mechanism might be robust or it might be fragile, it might be high advanced or primitive, but it has to (at least for a time) store some sort of information that is somehow derived from the real world.
Data that has no basis in or relationship to the real world is utterly useless for the purposes of using it to create value and making more effective decisions. Imagine a set of data that is just made up randomly - a random list of customer data that includes totally made up random numbers for purchase amounts, transaction IDs, customer contact information, items or services purchased, customer acquisition methods, discounts applied, and satisfaction surveys. How could a business use this made up data in any meaningful and purposeful way? They couldn't. This data would be of use to no one because no amount of technical knowledge or manipulation would yield anything positive - you cannot derive anything from it. In effect, it's "garbage in, garbage out" with data.
Intelligence, in the sense we're discussing here, is the use of data in effective ways to achieve valuable (whatever that means) goals and objectives in the real world.
What sort of goals are we talking about? They can be any goal that is worthwhile:
Most worthwhile goals are achieved through a combination of effort and intelligence - effort alone is not always enough because you need to put your effort int he right direction. Of course, intelligence alone is useless without the effort to use it also - but intelligence s the seed from which our goals can be productively and effectively achieved.
Intelligence is what sets humans apart in some ways from the other beings that inhabit the world we find ourselves in. Although lots of animals are intelligent in some ways, they're not as intelligent as us. We can use complex models of the world to make decisions - this is why we are the dominant species.
Intelligence is the stuff that builds bridges, building, and apps. Intelligence is what wins battles in war and battles in the boardroom. Intelligence is what allows you to outperform in life and in business - it's what can set you apart in the battlefield of business and make that customer come through your doors or visit your website or download your app instead of your opponents'.
Data vs. Intelligence
Data and intelligence are two different but interrelated things. Data is used in order to obtain intelligence. Or, stated another way, you need data if you're going to have some sort of intelligence.
Intelligence doesn't just arise out of nowhere. The kind of intelligence that is useful (the productive kind of intelligence that helps with making effective decisions int the real world) is based on data. Therefore, intelligence and data are not two different but similar things, they are two very different things with one being required fro the other. It's like water and oxygen - you need oxygen atoms to make water, but water and oxygen are far from the same thing. Just as with oxygen and water, you need data to have intelligence, but intelligence is far more than just data - it's using data to create an understanding of the world.
Intelligence can exist in many forms. It can mean knowing your:
Intelligence can also mean knowing things there aren't specific numbers, but are more comparative in nature - things such as:
Intelligence can also be binary - it can include things like:
It ain't what you don't know that kills you, it's what you know for sure that just ain't so (Mark Twain)
I love the above quote - it's so elegant and so true. What you don't know won't really be the thing that hurts you in life. We all don't know something; we're all foolish in our own ways. However, when we're aware of our own foolishness and ofebruary-20th-2017.htmlf our own weaknesses, we can prevent bad situations by not going too deep into things without taking precautions. When we're sure of something, however, we often act without taking many (or any) precautions - we go all in with confidence. Hopefully that works out, but sometimes it doesn't - and when it doesn't it can be bad because you've likely not put the proper risk management practices and controls in place. Had you not been so confident, however, you might have still been wrong, BUT you likely would be wrong in a much more subdued way.
The modern world is the epitome of security when taken from a historical perspective. We have taken a rough, difficult, dangerous, and unpredictable existence as human beings and, over many centuries, transformed it into a far more predictable, calm, and secure way of life.
Now, by security and insecurity I don't mean the modern definition of the term - I don't mean confidence or lack of confidence in yourself. I mean something much deeper and more universal when I use these terms in this context. I'm talking about being truly secure and being deeply insecure as a human being in relation to the world around you.
To better illustrate what I mean by these terms I'll provide an example:
Be the Mouse?
So, if a mouse is the epitome of an insecure creature and a lion is the epitome of a secure creature, why would I imply with my title that insecurity is somehow good - why would I imply that you should somehow be insecure? Because you're not a lion.
You're not a lion - you're a fragile human being that has to be concerned with far more than his or her place in the animal kingdom. You have to be concerned not only with your survival today in a physical sense, but with your survival in a financial, career, emotional, and mental sense. Life more difficult for us human beings - we're competing on more playing fields.
Security = Death
Although being too deeply insecure will cause you mental trauma, the only way to truly have security in any of the places where it is important is by being constantly insecure. The moment you are too secure you're dead meat. The moment you're content with your situation or position or the moment you let your guard down you give room to the cold and harsh world and those in it to destroy you. Don't give the world or any person that room - be constantly vigilant and never feel sorry for yourself for it.
Don't feel bad for being insecure - the modern world we live in makes us think that a sense of security is one of the ultimate goals in life. In today's world too many people feel that we should have a constant sense of peace and calm and security - we want to feel like everything is ok and that there's nothing to worry about. Stop wanting that and realize that the game will never end and the struggle will never cease - the moment you overcome something, there is something else waiting for you. The moment you achieve some sense of security, there is something else to be on guard against. You must stop putting so much value on being in a calm state - a calm state means nothing and is nothing. A state of vigilance and security in everything you do is another state and it's not less good - it's the natural state of a creature as fragile as us.
The title is made partly in jest, of course, as we all know that money does in fact exist. What I'm trying to convey, however, is that money as we know it doesn't by itself represent anything useful, valuable, or meaningful to humankind - money is only a means at moving towards useful, valuable, or meaningful things. Money is just a storage system (similar to a battery) where the value we created is "stored" instead of spent.
Imagine a factory that produces electricity. That factory can either:
Now, there really isn't a third way is there? If we don't use it and we don't store it, the electricity will no longer be accessible to us.
In a similar manner, when we earn income by working or creating value in the world, we can either spend the income or we can store it in the form of US Dollars (or another type of currency). We can put these dollars into a checking account, a savings account, under our mattress, or invest in various ways, but either way, what we are doing is storing the purchasing power we created through our productive actions for use at a later time.
Of course, this is a big simplification and there are many gray areas and nuances that are ignored in our very simplified analysis, but it's suffice to say that thinking of money in this manner could prove both interesting and useful.
Now, if we do think of money as a battery, the next question is "What happens when we don't use it?" In general, like electricity stored within a battery, if we don't use the purchasing power stored in our money, the purchasing power will slowly wither away due to inflation. The purchasing power could also very abruptly be eliminated in the case of a some sort of national disaster that leaves the currency worthless (there are countless examples of this throughout history). So, if we are to be wise, we might want to diversify - we might want to store our accumulated wealth in different batteries in different places in an attempt to prevent an unreasonable amount of exposure due to a single point of failure. Additionally, knowing that all batteries degrade over time, we will want to pump the money out once in a while and put it back into productive endeavors (eg. investing in new businesses, purchasing real estate, purchasing education, donating it etc.).
a. an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion
b. a strong and unusual need or desire for something
In today's modern society (modern western society at least) we seem to fetishize consistency. We call politicians who change their minds on issues or change their views "flip-floppers." Who among us hasn't defended an opinion we no longer held simply because we held it before and discussed it with others? Both externally and internally in our own minds, we seem to have this unusual and intense desire to remain consistent with our past thoughts, beliefs, actions, words, and desires - we seem to have an irrational and unfounded fear of admitting that we've changed our minds on something or that we've grown up a bit and now see the parts of the picture that we didn't see before.
It's not clear where this fetishism of consistency comes from. It could arise from without (an external influence on us by the media or the education system) or it could arise organically from within (many individuals valuing consistency and see it as a vital trait). Regardless of where it comes from, today's intense devotion to consistency has likely gone too far - some consistency is important, BUT putting consistency above all else (including growth, education, and flexibility) is a foolish thing for a person to do and a foolish thing for a society to exalt.
If you believed X in the past but now believe Y, you must not be afraid to admit either to yourself or to others that your position has moved. Of course, if you consistently change positions or can never make up your mind on issues, that's a problem of its own, but when you move from X to Y because of personal growth, because of education on the topic, or because of an increased internal flexibility, you are acting in a very human and correct way.
In short, it's ok to change your mind when
But, your mind really hasn't changed if
I went to the orthodontist today to get a fixed retainer removed. It was put in about a decade ago, when I was a teenager, right after I had my braces removed. It was supposed to keep my bottom teeth in place, but after a decade in my mouth it started wearing out. Last week I had to get it repaired and more recently another part of the retainer broke off, making repair impossible and requiring the removal of the entire fixed retainer.
Why am I telling you this? I'm telling you this because I had a really interesting insight during my orthodontist visit, specifically as he was removing the excess adhesive (which bonded the retainer to my teeth) and polishing the back of my teeth after removing the retainer.
I am not afraid of going to the dentist at all, but I do understand that dental work performed with no anesthesia can be excruciatingly painful. My parents, who grew up in the former Soviet Union, tell me how painful such work was as they did not have anesthesia then (or they did not have access to it). Obviously, with no anesthesia, people likely neglected dental work. Additionally, I experienced dental drilling when I was a young child with relatively little anesthesia (I am not quite sure why) and I remember that it was very painful, even though some anesthesia was used. It is a very unique and particular type of pain and it is extremely uncomfortable. So, I knew that drilling teeth with no anesthesia at all is extremely painful from stories and a past experience with relatively little anesthesia. With this knowledge and with this past experience I sat down to get my retainer removed.
The orthodontist told me that he wouldn’t use any anesthesia because he wouldn’t be drilling into the teeth or doing anything that would hurt. He told me he would just be removing glue from the surface of the teeth after he removed the retainer. He removed the retainer and then he began removing all of the excess adhesive with a dental tool that looked very similar to the tools that dentists used on me when I had fillings in the past. I am a layperson when it comes to dentistry, so I assumed it was the same tool and I assumed it was capable of drilling deep into a tooth.
As he began removing the adhesive from the back of my teeth I felt a tiny bit of pain. I wouldn't even call it pain. It was more of an annoyance, but I knew very well that the minor annoyance could turn into excruciating pain should the dentist go deeper into the tooth. I thought to myself, what about when he finishes removing the adhesive? Then the drill will be touching the actual tooth and there will no longer be a layer of adhesive between the drill and the tooth. Will that hurt? It will likely hurt!
I didn't say anything while he was drilling because I trusted the orthodontist, but the annoyance increased and I felt a very slight tinge of pain. Now I was a little nervous, but I still trusted the orthodontist because I knew he worked with children and that he likely had an abundance of anesthesia. He would likely use it if he felt that there was even a chance of pain as medical professionals are overly cautious when it comes to these things today.
When he took a break from the drilling and the adhesive removal, I took the opportunity to ask him about my concern because I was pretty curious. I told him what I thought would happen and he told me that it wasn't possible. He said that what he was using was a rubber drill tip, not a metal drill tip capable of lacerating and drilling into the tooth. He said that even when the tip touches the tooth with no adhesive, which it would do soon once all of the adhesive was removed, it still wouldn't hurt. My outlook on the entire procedure immediately changed in an instant and I was shocked at this.
When he began drilling again the minor pain went away completely. Obviously I still felt the same sensation I felt before, but now I knew that it would never be different than it was now. I knew that the drill was not even capable of causing the pain which I was afraid of and that made the entire thing not just a little bit more tolerable, but turned the whole thing into a completely different experience. I now wanted him to continue with the procedure despite the light discomfort because I wanted the back of my teeth to be as smooth as possible and for all of the adhesive to be removed.
I know this is a simple example, but I cannot ignore what it has taught me. My assumptions played an enormous role in my experience at the orthodontist. I felt the same sensation (maybe even a greater physical discomfort after I found out), but something changed. The sensation in the beginning was combined with a certain fear that it would increase and an assumption that the tool that was being used could also grind deep into my tooth. After I learned about what was going on, my old assumption died and was replaced with a different assumption, this time a more accurate one. That accurate assumption allowed me to understand that the tool had a rubber tip and was incapable of drilling into the tooth. It was not the same tool that dentists use to drill into teeth to fill cavities.
What can we learn from my experience? We learn that assumptions matter a lot. I've always felt this before, but my experience at my orthodontist really brought this home for me. It was an almost profound experience in terms of how quickly I learned and internalized something pretty important. We won't always be able to change our assumptions and when we get more educated and our assumptions do change, we might realize that our original assumptions gave us more peace of mind. However, whenever we're suffering in one of endless ways we can suffer, we should take a minute to think about whether or not our suffering is caused in part by an assumption that we have. We should then seek to understand why we have that assumption and really do our best to understand whether or not it is rational, correct, and true or whether it is only based on ignorance and our own limited past experiences. An assumption can act like a pair of glasses that color everything else we see in the world. Change the glasses and you can change your view of the world.
We all know (or should know) that buying a lottery ticket is truly a waste of money in the formal sense of the concept. Your chances of winning are likely less than your chances of getting struck by lighting. Even with an enormous jackpot, the expected value of the bet is almost always, if not always, less than what you pay to play. Therefore, it's not an investment or even a good gamble. You're better off playing something with far better odds. Even still, you're better off keeping your money in your pocket. If that's the case, why do so many people still play?
There are various theories as to why the lottery is so popular even though it's such a bad bet (e.g. tax on those not good at math, tax on the poor, tax on the uneducated, irrational individuals, overly optimistic individuals, etc.). I have my own theory on the matter. I don't have proof that it's right, but it seems interesting and probable to me.
The lottery is a cheap form of entertainment and that is why lower-income individuals seem to represent the largest portion of lottery players
Numerous studies have shown that the vast majority of lottery players are low-income individuals. I believe that this is fairly important in trying to understand why so many people play a game with such horrible odds and low expected value relative to the cost to play. I don't think that these low-income individuals are deluded or all bad at math. I believe you will find a broad spectrum of people in this low-income group, some of which might be math geniuses. However, all low-income people have at least one thing in common: they don't have a lot of money. I believe low-income people are the largest represented group when it comes to lottery players by far because the lottery is a form of entertainment and one of the cheapest forms of entertainment around.
To believe my theory you have to believe that gambling is entertainment. I enjoy blackjack and I definitely believe there is a lot of entertainment value in blackjack and various forms of gambling. Among various other things, you get an adrenaline rush in anticipating the potential reward and fearing the potential loss. Low-income people might not be able to spring for a $5-a-hand (if you can find a table that cheap) blackjack table or make a trip to Las Vegas to play the penny slots. Even the poorest people, however, can likely afford to spend a dollar or two on a lottery ticket. Lottery tickets might just be a form of entertainment.
If lottery tickets are a form of entrainment, then people buying lottery tickets aren't as irrational as some would have you believe. They are paying a dollar or a few dollars for a similar type thrill to the one I get at a blackjack table. I am great at math and I understand statistics so I understand that blackjack is a losing proposition. I don't care, however, and I believe many lottery players don't care either. Because I know, and I believe many lottery players know, that we're not in it to win, just to have a good time. We don't come with more than we are comfortable losing and we're fine when we lose because we received entertainment value for the money we spent. If I lose $100 at a table and I got four hours of adrenaline-filled fun and a bunch of free drinks out of it, I am happy.
For a few dollars you get to buy the lottery ticket, fill it out and think about the numbers you want to choose, and then wait and anticipate, hoping that you win and getting a bit of an adrenaline rush in the process. I wouldn't play, but it just might be a good value proposition to some people. Maybe it's not a waste of money after all.
Note: When I discussed gambling and entertainment I was only talking about individuals who are healthy gamblers and see gambling for what it really is. If we are discussing individuals who are addicted to gambling for the various reasons one can get addicted to such an activity, that is a different matter entirely and that is beyond the scope of this article.
Ever since I took my first economics course as a freshman in college, I fell in love with the field. As I continued my studies, both in the classroom and outside of it, my love for economics increased.
I am not sure why I am so fascinated by the subject, to be honest. It might be because I am reasonably good at it. It might be that after a mediocre high school career doing really well in the economics course I took in my first semester in college made me feel very good about myself. Maybe I attached those good feelings to the field of economics and I would feel the same way about another subject had I taken that subject instead.
The above is possible, but I think it's much more than that. Here are a few reasons why I love economics:
Economics is great for curious minds
I am a curious person by nature and economics allows me to learn about a lot of things, especially how some very important parts of our lives and our society work. It also gives me a way to express that curiosity. By studying economics I can combine mathematics with the social sciences in unique ways that, in addition to the core concepts and principles of economics, reach into the subjects of psychology, technology, engineering, sociology, history, politics, urban planning and development, and even religion.
Studying Economics is like studying a language in some ways
I am a curious person by nature and economics allows me to learn about a lot of things, especially how some very important parts of our lives and our society work. It also gives me a way to express that curiosity. By studying economics I can combine mathematics with the social sciences in unique ways that, in addition to the core concepts and principles of economics, reach into the subjects of psychology, technology, engineering, sociology, history, politics, urban planning and development, and even religion.
Economics helps me be a better decision-maker, including helping me make better investing decisions
Economics helps me make much better decisions about almost everything. Understanding some basic economic principles allows me to make better decisions about how to use my time, my energy, and my money. For example, the principle of arbitrage helps me make better investment decisions by making me aware of the fact that it's exceedingly unlikely that I will be able to make easy money in a scheme. Another example is the principle of opportunity cost, which helps me better weigh decisions and helps me understand that there's always a cost to every single one of my actions and moves. These are just two of many examples in which relatively basic core principles of economics help me make better everyday decisions and allow me to live a more fulfilled and informed life.
Economics forces you to learn some stats and probability, two core fields of study for the modern world
Studying economics and econometrics has made me understand statistics better. This better understanding has made me more cynical when it comes to statistical reporting because I am aware of the various statistics games that can be play in both data gathering and data analysis.
Economics shows you how difficult it is to obtain real knowledge in the world
Studying economics in general, and learning about the Austrian School particularly, has made me aware of the difficulty of really obtaining real knowledge about our world. This understanding helps me take what politicians, policy-makers, think tanks, and even some consultants say with a grain of salt when they attempt to design systems and incentive-structures. I think to myself (as Hayek has taught me to think): How can they design something when they don't really understand it in the first place? Studying economics has taught me the difference between correlation and causation and how people often confuse the two to sometimes disastrous ends. Economics has taught me spontaneous order exists and that things are very often much more complex than they appear, this complexitly lending to make things much more difficult to really understand.
For example, we can ask the question "Why is City A so successful?" Many people can attempt to answer this question. Here are a few reason that could be given as answer: (1) low tax rate, (2) fertile soil, (3) excellent climate, (4) excellent schools, (5) low barriers to immigration, (6) high barriers to immigration, (7) lots of state funding of projects, (8) lots of federal funding of projects, etc. Hundreds or even thousands of reasons can be given to answer the above question. Economics has made me realize that it could be none of those reasons, a very specific combination of some of those reasons, or all of those reasons. It could be that even if we have 99 out of the 100 reasons down, we won't be able to replicate City A's success if we don't have that magical 100th reason. Knowledge is difficult to obtain, especially knowledge of very complex and organic systems where scientific experimentation is pretty much not possible, as is the case in economics (contrasted with a field such as physics, which is much more conducive to scientific experimentation).
Studying economics has made me a more educated and intelligent person allows me to live a more informed life. I love this field of study and I believe anyone who takes the time and puts in the effort to study this social science which tries so hard to be a real science will fall in love with the subject as well.
I recently sat down with a top-rated resume consultant in Los Angeles, CA with a Ph.D. in communications and many successful years of experience in resume consulting to look over my own resume and get some guidance on how to craft a resume that will stand out in 2014 and the next few years.
Although opinions vary, it is not considered best practice to include your LinkedIn information on a professional resume. I was told by the consultant that putting your LinkedIn URL or other similar types of URLs on your resume make it seem like the resume is a little pointless. He said "what's the point of giving your resume if you're just saying 'take a look at my LinkedIn profile for my complete profile, this resume is just a brief synopsis.'" The consultant stated sarcastically that if you're going to put your LinkedIn profile, "...you might as well not have anything except a blank sheet with just your LinkedIn profile, which will save the resume reader some time."
Of course, the resume is a brief synopsis and your LinkedIn profile will likely be much more in-depth, but you don't want the person reading your resume to think that he or she has to go online and go to LinkedIn to really get to know you. They should be able to get a feel for you based on your resume and not have to do more research. Your resume should stand out. Your resume should be enough for them to make a decision about whether or not they want to get to know you better. That's hard to do, but that's the point of a resume.
The conversation surprised me because I thought I was smart and savvy by including my LinkedIn information on my resume. I have since taken off my LinkedIn URL and I believe my resume, revised and crafted to express what I want it to, is better for it. I am, however, open to putting the LinkedIn URL back and making any other changes if I feel they are appropriate or if circumstances change.
For more thoughts on whether a resume should include LinkedIn info, check out this Quora question on the topic.
Overpriced compared to what?
Usually, when people say that Macs are overpriced they mean that they are overpriced to comparable PCs running Microsoft's Windows operating system. Usually, people who make this comment point out that the same specs can be obtained on a Windows PC for less money. They also point out the fact that an entry-level Windows PC costs just a few hundred dollars (usually a laptop), but the cheapest Mac currently is the $500 Mac Mini, which doesn't come with a display, mouse, or keyboard. To get a Mac laptop (a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro) at least $900 has to be spent, the cost of a higher-end Windows laptop.
From an economist's perspective, the statement is correct in that more power can be had for less money in the Windows world. However, a wise economist would also point out that Macs are very different things than Windows PCs. They have a different operating system, build quality, customer support, and brand recognition. When someone purchases a Mac, they might be spending more money because they want one or all of these differentiators.
Potential Differentiator 1: Operating System (MacOS)
Although specs on a Mac cost more, many would argue that Mac OS X is a more efficient operating system that takes better advantage of Mac hardware because both the hardware and software are built by the same company.
Potential Differentiator 2: Build Quality
Macs are well-known to have a high build quality. It might just be that Apple customers like the look and feel of Macs and are willing to pay for it in the same way that the owner of a luxury vehicle is willing to pay extra for the look and feel of his or her car. The look and feel may not account for one hundred percent of the price difference, but it might account for some.
Potential Differentiator 3: Customer Support
Apple's customer support, specifically their Genius Bar, is well-known to provide excellent customer service and support that doesn't seem to have a rival on the Windows side. Attempts on the Windows side to provide something similar generally don't turn out very well (eg. Best Buy's Geek Squad). You can just bring in your Apple product to one of their many stores and you will be quickly helped by a knowledgeable associate. This may seem pointless to someone who is a computer expert. Why would someone pay more for a product so that if it breaks later you can have someone take a look at it in a convenient way? However, it isn't pointless to a less tech-savvy or a very busy person who commands higher wages and is willing to pay more to save time and mental stress. A person making $500 per hour (obviously an exaggerated example) should be more than willing to pay extra for things that will save him or her time and preserve his or her energy. It's just worth it for them.
Potential Differentiator 4: Brand Recognition
Finally, many people might purchase Apple products because of the Apple brand. In the same way that some people purchase a Mercedes Benz in part because of the brand and the prestige that is associated with it, a person might purchase a Mac because they want to be associated with the Apple brand. It might seem pointless to some, but in a wealthy society brand recognition, branding in general, and how you feel about what you purchase is very important. Everyone wants to feel good about what they buy and people are willing to pay for that feeling.
There might be more reasons as to why Apple products generally seem to cost more, but the above four generally explain why so many people are willing to pay more for products that are similar in many ways. The reason they are willing to pay more is because although they may be similar in terms of specs, they are different in other important and often intangible ways.
Apply this type of thinking to your own business or work
This same methodology can be applied to other products and even to other things in life. Things aren't always black and white and things that seem similar can be different in important ways. Even if those differences are small, they might mean a lot to some people and those people might be ready and willing to pay a premium for things that are important to them.
Finally, it's important to point out that any society in which people will pay more of their hard-earned money to buy a product because "they feel better about it" or because "it makes them feel better" or because "they like the brand" is a rich society compared with the rest of the world and humanity's history. Only in a very rich society can these types of products exist, can this type of intangible product differentiation exist, and can many people afford to pay premiums for very intangible things.
And now, given the rise of cyrptocurrencies and crypto assets to quasi-mainstream financial assets, we're dedicated to providing quality, relevant, and interesting material on cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets. Articles on Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Cardano, and many more cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets can be found on Pennies and Pounds - all that in addition to a plethora of information on what cryptoassets are, how the entire crypto industry came to be, blockchain/immutable ledger technology, mining, proof of work, proof of stake, and how to prudently invest in crypto if you are so inclined (based on your risk tolerance and ability to withstand the volatility that will come with a crypto portfolio).