Justin Mares was very cool to transcribe all of "Anticipating the Future" -- thanks Justin! Full transcript follows (about 8000 words, so pretty intense...)
Lectures on Strategy # 1 - Anticipating the Future
So Cassius says: “Then if we lose this battle, you are contented to be led in triumph to the streets of Rome?”
And Brutus said: “No, Cassius, no. Think not, thou noble Roman, that ever Brutus will go bound to Rome. He bears too great a mind. But this same day must end that work the ides of March begun. And whether we shall meet again I know not. Therefore our everlasting farewell take. Forever and forever farewell, Cassius. If we do meet again, why, we shall smile. If not, why then this parting was well made.
Cassius: Forever and forever farewell, Brutus. If we do meet again, we’ll smile indeed. If not, ’tis true this parting was well made.
Brutus: Why then, lead on. Oh, that a man might know the end of this day’s business ‘ere it comes! But it suffices that the day will end, and then the end is known.—Come, ho! Away!
That line always got me, “the end of this day’s business ‘ere it comes — Oh, that a man might know the end of this day’s business ‘ere it comes! But it suffices that the day will end, and then the end is known.
So, I want to talk about anticipating the future with you guys, because I think it’s very possible to do with a little bit of background in history, and a little bit of background on statistics and maybe a little background on Shakespeare. Cassius and Brutus are about to get their asses kicked by Augustus Caesar and they decided beforehand that they’re going to die they’re not going to be lead back in chains to Rome where they lost. They’re thinking they’re going to loste but they’re not sure. They’re not sure. And so Brutus says well if we could know beforehand if we could win or lose, that would be great. But I guess, after we’ve won or lost we’ll know and that’s enough.
So, it’s kind of obvious why you’d want to have an anticipation of the future. It has a huge impact on just about all the material world, from art to commerce, love, work, politics, relationships. But it’s amazing to me the most people actually don’t spend any time at all learning how to predict the future, how to conceptualize what could happen and to do things based on them. For people who are not too concerned with the material world, I’ll say that I think, being able to analyze and anticipate the future has a huge impact even on a kind of spiritual concept like philosophy. You know right now there are books that were the masterworks of past civilizations kind of rotting in library basements, kind of been officially or unofficially banished back to the stacks. And there are things right now that are in vogue that would be just seen as nonsense in ten years, in fifty years in a hundred years.
So, I think everyone should have a healthy kind of respect for the fact that the future is coming and you can somewhat anticipate it, you can play around, you can take action based on it. Practically speaking if you could know the future, you could order your affairs better, you could build around the future or help change it more to the kind of future you want.
I think to know the future you’ve got to start with the present and the past. In the present, cause happens and effects follow in the future. But what do you know, how do you know what effect the cause will have? And I think you look to the past to tell you that. I think you look to history to tell you that. It’s pretty simple, we know when we mix this chemical with that chemical it’s been done a thousand times. If they’re the standard solution and nothing crazy is happening, you’ll get whatever this compound or they’ll mix or they won’t mix. We know that and we can anticipate that that will happen because it’s been done a lot. So because chemicals have been mixed a lot by chemists and chemists are pretty thorough about taking notes and being studious about it, we can know that if we mix these chemicals together then something will happen. They used to not know that. When a lot of the modern cleaning products started coming out, right around the industrial revolution, after that modern chemists thought that you could mix two kinds of soaps together and the result would be toxic. Now even to this day, even though most soaps would be safe to mix there’s still this big cultural taboo based in North America – Do not ever mix different cleaning products together, it could be toxic. So when you have innovation, when you have things that are new on the scene, when there’s not a lot of history behind it, it’s dangerous when they mix. When they combined people don’t know what’s going to happen.
Now I feel like the attitude that people take towards humanity’s affairs, whether it be on the large scale with something like international finance and war, politics or even in an individual scale like relationship and child rearing, relationships you have with family and friends. I feel like people treat this kind of the way they treat brand new invented chemicals. They see them as dangerous and they don’t want to mix them and see what happens. They don’t really even think it’s possible to know anything about what happens after that. Because they don’t do that they never know what’s safe and what’s not safe. They never take chemicals that would be dangerous off the market, which you could do if you look back at history you could see, what are the kinds of things in my life that are toxic and dangerous and you could cut those out. By looking back in the past you can get an idea, even if you weren’t entirely sure if an action you took in the present, what would happen in the future. If it was miserable you can get rid of that kind of bleach or that kind of soap. I think it’s very, very, very practical to take a look at the material world and to try to remove the toxic elements of it by studying what could happen and what the effect would be in any given cause.
It’s kind of a radical idea here, it’s an important idea. I’m just talking we’re going to cover a lot of ground, the basic theme is I want to help you anticipate the future. I’m a historian. I’m a statistician. I’m a strategist, I read a lot. I’ve done a little bit of experimentation, this and that. I’ve talked to a lot of smart people. I learned from a lot of smart people and a lot of great thinkers.
Take what you will from this. I hope everybody here just picks up one thing they can use. Don’t worry about the facts, there are a lot of things going on. But this one is kind of interesting; I think the future is largely, largely, largely determined by mutually held beliefs on what’s going to happen in the future. I’m not saying that what people think is going to happen is what’s going to happen but I’m saying the future is created by actions in the present. Actions in the present are determined in what people think are going to happen in the future, right? So mutually held beliefs in the future create present actions. I think that’s kind of the important one. Mutually held beliefs in the future create present actions. It doesn’t create the future that people think is going to happen. People thought tech stocks are going to go up forever. So they bought and bought and bought and bought and people responding to rational incentives just started putting a .com at the end of anything they stopped worrying about revenues. Things got crazy, we had a big crash. Following the crash there were counter measures taken against it. That lead to another crash and you know and here we are in the present.
The belief that stocks were going to go up forever, we’ve entered into a brave new world, right? Like, we’ve lead people to just buy tech, buy tech, buy tech which led people to just invest in asinine things. Then there is kind of a cyclical effect from now. When you know this you could either play on or play against it. Contrary to some people’s belief, I don’t think that most of the world’s politicians and leaders are stupid. Just the opposite I think most of them are incredibly savvy and intelligent.
I want you to hold on to that notion of mutually held beliefs in the future creating the present. We’ll get back in a moment to the very important point. Again, to understand the future you really got to understand the past. There are so many quotes about history repeating itself. Nobody gets it. Whenever we deal with unknown forces, when were mixing two thing together and there is nothing quite like it. I think what you have to do is look for historical comparables. It blows my mind that nobody does this. Nobody does this. Basically, nobody does this. Warren Buffett does this. Warren Buffett’s most recommended book, which he says is the best book on finance ever written which was the ‘Intelligent Investor by Ben Graham’ says to do this. But nobody bothers, everybody looks at things and says they’re so new, they’re so crazy, they’re so different that we don’t have any comparable. I think we do. I think the rate of international acceleration and open borders was exactly what was happening after the industrial revolution and before world war one where telegraphs were coming online and trains were coming online and messages could be sent and faster ships started coming along. I think you could look at those and see what disruptive changes are going to happen and warfare in government communication and diplomacy. I think it’s a pretty good model of things.
People look at the tech boom and they say this has never happened before. Well, I think just the opposite. Canals and railroads were extremely, extremely, extremely overbuilt in the early 1900’s. People just got really excited. About something that really was marvellous it really was changing the world. Engineering improved tremendously. The availability of power came way up; the availability of energy came way up; the cost came way down. Instead of building canals all over the place, they were like building canals from a swamp to a swamp that no boats were going to go. And of course all those malinvestments lost their money. The people had bet their lives on them and did that at the very bad time just like the tech crash years later.
People don’t study history. I think this applies from the individual level to kind of the grand level. If you want to understand what makes an economy industrialized you should study history. If you want to understand what makes a nation rise and fall you study history and you will find as many comparables situation as you can understand. There’s no perfect comparables. There’s no perfect comparables, so you just want to mark what’s comparable and what isn’t. Is the leadership based of a nation consolidated very heavily in the hands of one person or another? What’s the relationship between the leadership of this person and another person? What’s the terrain like? Which side has better communications? A very simple analysis you can do in any hostile situation is which side has better communications. Generally speaking all else being equal, you always want to bet on the side that has better communications than the other side. Hannibal Barca had really just amazing supply chain logistics, scouting, spoke like fifteen languages himself, and really was just able to connect with many different people. Many, many different ethnicity really welded together core of just people all over the world to go fight Rome. Even getting some of the Roman Italians to defect against the Romans. Until finally Scipio Africanus, the son and nephew of two slain Roman generals comes up conquers Spain, storms New Carthage and Spain breaks it. Scipio understood the value of communication. He understood that their armies, which way out numbered him, were too far away for Carthage’s defensive messengers to go get them. He was able to quickly take their most important city in Europe and then hold its very strong defences. They just hit it by surprise and that broke their communication lines. And from there he sent their envoys and diplomats to Africa. Scipio was the first person to have better communications than Hannibal and he’s the one that eventually won.
Napoleon had much better communications. Napoleon had much, much better communications than all of the crusty old monarchies with their kind of formal diplomacy and decorum and things. Until he finally ran up against Wellington and his bankers, like Nathaniel Rothschild backed Wellington. So they were able to send messages back and from between Spain with code and the postal express and the fast cars that were owned by the banking gents. So then inevitably and then finally Napoleon lost.
You can look at events like this and you can use them. You can use them to determine what you think is going to happen. If you are going to bet for or against them is there is a power struggle. Is this company going to get bought or is going to get sold. So that’s interesting.
One thing that I want to... I want to address this with the right amount of gravity. I don’t want to stay cavalier. It’s a statement that if it was said cavalier will be a little bit off. But if it’s said a little bit too solemnly it would be kind of ridiculous. I think to understand society at large; again belief in the future held in mass creates the present action. I think to understand society at large and where society is going you have to understand fear. You really have to understand fear.
Let’s go back to a different play by Shakespeare. You probably heard the story of this one but not a lot of people have analyzed the latter part of it which I think is more interesting.
“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
It must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied over with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.”
So, “And makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all”, he’s saying conscience there he’s not using conscience the way we normally would. He’s saying kind of a... anticipating that things could be worse, or fearing things could be worse, negative anticipation. Its what’s stops us from taking action that could make things different. Hamlet here his life is just a mess. He’s thinking about killing himself, “To die, to sleep: perchance to dream”. And he’s like, but wait what if it’s worse, this sucks but what if it’s worse. And that fear stops Hamlet from killing himself and then you know he goes on to have more adventures. It’s a good play.
You’ll see that when people aren’t afraid anymore they start doing kind of what they want to do. Freud wrote about this in Civilization and Its Discontents. Freud said people want it; people want to like have sex whenever they want, they want to indulge their impulses, they want to revenge themselves from people they dislike, they want to take people that are strong and they despised and kind of put a knife on their backs, they want to climb on the throne and put the crown on their head. They want to just like, pillage and steal and cause chaos and just ran amok. It’s civilization that suppresses that. How does civilization do that? It does that with a little bit of shaming and a little bit of guilt. But there’s a large current of fear that if you mess with this current system it’s going to be a lot worse. Now for someone who’s travelled from, I don’t know sixty countries or so now. Damn near everyone in every country thinks things are bad but you know if you tried to change them they’re going to get worse. It’s really whacky. Even like really terrible places seems to have that belief that change is an ugly, ugly thing. It’s this kind of fear of the future. And this is why I think a more correct anticipation of the future can go a long way. If you can kind if spot where your community or your neighbourhood or your company is at from a historical perspective you can see are they going to be rising or are they going to be falling most likely. You can plan around that a do thing a little more intelligently.
I think you can see examples of this in the kind of decommunization of the Soviet Union and of China. Under Gorbachev the Soviet Union implemented two policies Perestroika and Glasnost. Perestroika was broadly speaking economic liberalization and Glasnost was social liberalization. And the Soviet Union fell apart really, really fast. All the SSRs and Soviet socials republics basically all rebelled national ------- all of them ----- and people started rebelling and burning stuff and knocking down walls and whatever and the Soviet Union was done really, really fast. China on the other hand started liberalizing under Deng Xiaoping who says “I don’t care what color the cat is as long as it catches the mouse”. What happened was Deng Xiaoping also started economic policies, but something interesting happened. People wanted to push their new freedoms. They said; do we not have to be afraid of the boss anymore? Do people not have to be afraid of the boss anymore? So they started building barricades near Tiannmen Square. There a student movement to came and build it out. And Deng Xiaoping said; “Actually you do still have to be afraid of us. I’m sorry, were sending in tanks.” One guy bravely stood in front of the tanks. A little known quote that I find I don’t know I kind of laugh at this in a morbid way, was that Deng Xiaoping was asked a little bit later, the guy was never seen again, you know tank guy you know famous picture he was never seen again. Deng Xiaoping was asked a little bit later maybe like three or four month later when things have cooled down; whatever happened to tank guy? Deng Xiaoping goes; “Yeah I don’t know, I don’t think we executed him.” That was the exact quote; yeah they executed him you know that’s what happened.
So what happened now, well the Soviet Union simultaneously liberalize the economy which creates kind of unrest. Whenever you take a controlled system and you let it change some people win and some people lose. That makes people upset and scared. People are scared of the future. And when you simultaneously let them express that right, then all hell breaks loose really fast. That happened in Greece under the military dictatorship, the post world war two military dictatorships. The generals that controlled Greece were fine until they started to liberalize and then got overthrown really fast. You’ll see the flipside was that like Francisco Franco who was really kind of a mean bastard in a lot of ways. Fascist, División Azul fought with the Nazis in World War 2. There the only one in the east who made a non aggression pact against the west but the Spanish soldiers fought against the Soviet Union with the Nazis. You know they’re like the blue Spanish Nazis in World War 2. He never liberalizes his whole rank he actually nationalized hard. He cracked down on English and foreign languages. He really emphasized Spanish, Spanish pride, regulations prohibiting external people from building external architectural styles without the approval of Spanish culture. He died relatively happy with his power intact. Spain in gradually liberalizing, since then it’s barely starting to kind of approach the rest of the world.
So it’s kind of interesting, most Russians despise Gorbachev. They agreed that Perestroika brought them a lot of economic wealth but they really despised the Glasnost, the social liberalization that lead people express that they were upset with the government (20:28 – 20:30. I find that interesting, I don’t find that to be a good thing. I’m just making a remark on history. If you take a regime that’s oppressive and you simultaneously make it unoppressive in terms of resources and kind of free, and you let people express themselves, they’re going to express all that pent up anger and upsetness and you get into Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, “Hey these leaders kind of push us around lets go show them who’s boss.”
When you consider these things, you get kind of a map of the world. You can kind of see if I want to make a change, what do I do? Gorbachev was really like a really, really decent kind-hearted guy who wanted to stop World War 3 from breaking out and engulfing the whole planet again. He thought, “Hey we’ll like give some power to the satellite states. Take the Soviet Union and we’ll liberalize it you know goods flowing a little bit easier, modernized. We’ll let the free press go. We’ll let the arts stop being just a glorification of the Soviet Union and let them kind of express ---“. And then instantly the Soviet Union is overthrown and crumbles really, really fast. And like there were some quotes later like, “Yeah that didn’t really go how we planned.” And he really didn’t expect that. He expected Russians to be ruling some confederacy, a little more liberal Soviet Union or something not like what happened.
You look at that and I think the overthrow of the Soviet Union can be chalked up to the fact that Gorbachev allowed honestly and was really okay with honestly. See honesty is kind of a really, really interesting concept. If you want to look at large scale factors it’s hard to do that without looking at individuals. Every result of a large scale thing is somewhere along the line individuals are making or have made decisions that have set things. So in any group of people sometimes they go into mum mode but at some point some time there was an individual who was thinking, “Let’s set up the basic ground rules the basic procedures the basic philosophy the basic plans the basic something...” right? Gorbachev let a really extremely honest viewpoint or perspective get out. Would you say he’s a moron as ------ Deng Xiaoping. I don’t think so, let me tell you why. This is an interesting question. This is now getting into how you evaluate your personal relationships. So I have talked about nations rising and falling and communications and stock market and stuff, I guess that’s kind of interesting, but if you want to evaluate the people in your life somebody you might want to have as a mentor or a mentee. Somebody that if you were in academia you might take on as a student, what if the student had a mixed track record, they’re going to be like a project for you. Are they going to finish their work or they’re not going to do it and they’re going to flake out. If you going to have somebody as a friend or if you’re going to have somebody as a business partner, if you’re going to loan somebody money if you’re going to be paid by somebody, how do you evaluate them?
We’ll again you study history. The first thing to look at is honesty. Honesty is very hard to nail down what is it. I’ve spent a lot of time on this because it’s very, very important. It’s crucial to understand who’s honest and who isn’t but it’s very, very hard to do. If somebody says, were going to go out there and win this game to rally their team but then lose. Were they dishonest? I don’t think most people would say that, you could say they were wrong but not dishonest. I think you can actually break down individual honesty into two components and rate them from zero to a hundred. I’m not kidding. You can actually take a numerical, algorithmic approach to honesty. I think it’s the components of honesty over accuracy and sincerity. So you can say, how accurate is what this person saying and how sincere is what this person is saying. I think if either of those gets below sixty out of a hundred, they’re lying. Once you started getting into like about as true as not and then less true than not, you’re lying. And like zero over a hundred is like a bold faced lie, you know what I mean? That’s like saying the opposite of what’s actually going on. Most people when they lie don’t do that, they mix the truth and the lie. So their accuracy or their sincerity will get down to like forty out of a hundred. A lot of times when people lie they’ll be like accuracy ninety out of a hundred but their sincerity is not there. They say something that’s true like, “Well the shipments are on their way”. Not mentioning that ninety percent of the shipments were taken out or something by a storm.
Let me give you an example of this. This is another historical example. It’s a famous speech, it’s extremely sincere. Let’s see the accuracy in a minute:
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate -- we cannot consecrate -- we cannot hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
This is Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. Confederate forces charged a really well defended union position and just got slaughtered, really one of the worst uses of cavalry of all time. Confederates didn’t have much chance against the north. Once the north’s diplomacy got even France’s intervention, but they could have maybe fought a defensive action and held out. Just a neutral historians perspective, but they charged at Gettysburg, they got impulsive and they got taken out. So, Lincoln’s up there and a lot of people died in Gettysburg and there were Americans on both sides. That’s the tough thing about the civil war is when you’re killing the enemy after peace is made you’ve killed your own population. It’s just nasty and horrible. War is horrible but civil war is the worst you really can’t win. That’s interesting.
So the government and the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth. Well Lincoln is saying he’s a republican, he’s a republican democrat. We should vote and the people should decide. What he probably doesn’t realize is the states bound together by votes of the people in the individual states they had the right to secede - pretty much everyone recognized international law at that time. The south didn’t like the north. The Civil War did not really start from slavery in my opinion. My opinion is definitely an aggravating factor. But the north put tariffs on imports of machinery and tools that the southerners wanted to buy so that the northern industries could have higher prices and they took all the tariffs off the southern crops so the southern prices of the crops would fall. After having taking over some of the western lands having bought and conquered some of them the northern politicians wanted to give the lands away for free increasing the amount of agriculture again increasing the supply of agriculture and dropping the prices down. The south wanted to sell the land to at least get some money in the federal treasury even though competitors are coming to slow down the expansion of the west. The north wanted to build railroads running from the northeast in kind of the middle of the country thought to the Midwest and the northwest without any federal investment or planning for the south. So the south was like, “Hey this whole policy just hosed the south. We’re getting out of here. We’re getting out of here.”
Slavery is an issue. I mean the northerners recognized that the south was anti-modern they’re this barbaric institutions. They thought like look we’re more cultured that this people we’re more progressive we’re more intelligent than this people but they also had policies that were just against the south. That why the South seceded. it wasn’t just about slavery. Slavery intentions have gone on since before the colonies were gone from England. That was like not a big thing. A few years before that the English, the British Imperial government had paid money to every slave owner they raised a big tax, a onetime tax to pay every slave owner, release the slaves and rehabilitate them with kind of a somewhat intelligent plan. Most people slave trade have already been stopped most people thought that that was going to happen to America. Federal government just didn’t have enough revenues. So the south was like, “Get some money in the treasury don’t give these lands for free. You know we need to raise revenues. If slavery is going to be ended let’s do it intelligently.” And the north was like, “No lets drive down the price of your crops, lets drive up the cost of your machinery and your tools.” And war starts over the trade war. It’s a war over trade and economics. They use their democratic thing to vote out the south. The north says, “You can’t secede”. Remember politicians, the northern common people were like good riddance to bad garbage. They didn’t really want the confederacy part of it. Lincoln was a hardcore imperialist just like a Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, just like some of the early soviet leaders just like Mao. They were like, “You know imperialism has a lot of connotations. There were expansions, leaders who would like to take over a lot of area.”
Lincoln was very sincere, yes this is a great nation and it has to be prosperous. So, the “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” he went and crushed a democratic culture that like did not like anything the north was doing and didn’t have power to stop them. That’s what happened, but then the victors write the history books. So if you want to understand the future, you have to understand the past. Lincoln’s sincerity was off the charts which is why the Gettysburg speech is so powerful and it resonates so much. His sincerity was off the charts. His sincerity was a hundred out of a hundred. He really meant it. But the guys at the Gettysburg did not die for the government of the people, by the people, for the people. Democracy was super on the decline during the American civil war. Lincoln had like elected official arrested and stuff. Like they just didn’t care, do you know what I mean? It was all about power and one side over the other. So you recognize this.
In your own life I think you are most susceptible to --- so this is something to pay attention to especially if you are a very trusting person. I’m naturally actually is some ways a very, very, very, very trusting person. I like to believe in people. I like to believe in the good of people. One thing you got to be aware of is that people has a very high sincerity but a low accuracy. It’s very, very dangerous people that mean what they say. When most people think of a liar they think of somebody that’s mean saying stuff that they don’t mean. They’re thinking of you know somebody that goes into church that’s like an atheist. “Hoo~ halleluiah, halleluiah” and they’re kind of uncomfortable. It is easy to pick up a liar who is trying to be insincere. It’s very hard to go against your belief and to put on a front. It’s like really just hard. And you know somebody who has a different belief set trying to fake they have the same belief set its hard to do. Spies get caught. Infiltrators get caught. People with unsympathetic beliefs get noticed. There’s this little cultural ticks. There’s ways that people move and say and do things. You know in the movie Inglourious Basterds the Tarentino movie the Americans got caught when they held up their fingers in a different symbol, you know they signal three differently that the Germans. It’s very, very, very hard to completely fake something. But if you actually believe it, if you really believe you’re on the forces of God. If you really believe that north versus south was government of the people, by the people, for the people, going and doing whatever the southern thing was: well its needed to be done, but it could probably be done with less bloodshed and more intelligently. And you give great speeches.
In your own life when you meet somebody that is dead sure of themselves I would recommend you look at their history instead of their sincerity. To predict the accuracy of what’s going to happen with their prediction with their word to you look at what happened it the past. Do you know what I mean? Someone can be dead sure that the stock is going to go up ask about their own portfolio ask about what stocks they bought in the past. Get a complete record of it. If they have published predictions go back and read their predictions from past years. If you see somebody that’s like I believe in you, I want to work with you, I want you to loan me money, I want to loan you money, whatever. They might be dead sincere, that’s the most dangerous kind of person when they’re dead sincere. People don’t know their accuracy. If you’re talking about something that’s going to happen in the future, you don’t know. I can tell you I can pick you up in the airport but you know my transmission falls out of my car I’m not going to be there. Not because I’m a liar it was just because that was unanticipated. But if you have a friend whose car is always breaking down you might not want to count on him on the airport no matter how sincere they are. The sincerity is what really, really need to believe in somebody and it’s also the most dangerous aspect. It’s what you can kind of get awry on.
Mutually held beliefs those things that drive action, they’re reinforced through perspectives and weight No matter how backwards your case is and how clearly you’re the bad guy the other side did something. You know they like looked at you the wrong way. Do you know what I mean? You could blow things way out of proportion. And if you’re saying equal amount of words you could just trade off back and forth being angry at each other. You can here signs of a case where like one side is clearly just crazy but they’re dead sure their right. Their sincerity is very high about that. So be aware of that as well.
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.” So its Cassius saying that, Brutus it’s not fate, it’s not fate that’s causing all of this to happen it’s us. It’s us, were causing all this to happen. The full quote of that is:
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
Now interestingly enough, what Cassius was saying there was--- Brutus is hesitatingly to kill Caesar; he’s friends with him --- Cassius was saying, “You’re just scared to kill him because you’re an underling.” The word underling is really interesting. As soon as somebody sees themselves as an underling then when they see you in a weak moment they kind of want to put a bunch of knife on you. Brutus, if you look at history might not have been a bad guy. Maybe he was alright. You know, toward the middle of his life before he was part of Caesar’s murder he was unequivocally a good guy after that he was kind of a mess. Cassius convinced him that he was an underling to Julius and Julius was about to take complete power, they had been friends for a long time, why should he become an underling of his old friend. Jealously, wrath, things of that nature. When big events are happening a lot of times people will say, “The fault’s is in the stars, it just happens”. Faults are not it the stars it’s in ourselves. Its human emotions of like greed or jealousy or vengeance that are going to get you. And I would strongly recommend, I would strongly, strongly, strongly recommend you kind of study and pay attention to what typically happens in situations. If you do enough business, you know at the point where the income is sizable for people you’re going to see things. People don’t want to pay for things after the service is delivered. If you deliver a service and you have not been paid immediately the further away it gets from it the more likely to delay on payment. Contracts, it doesn’t matter. They’re like, “Why did you even do that, I’m not even paying you”. Even if you’re friends, even if you have more value in the future it’s just kind of a perversity of the human mind. It’s not to say about anything about your friends it’s not to say anything about your business partners. I’m sure they are all great people but a perversity of the human mind, when you owe somebody something it bothers you and you start finding flaws in them. And the further away something was in the past, that they did for you to generate that then the more it bothers you and the more you find reasons to come up with that. The flaws are not in the stars it’s not fate its humans doing what they do. When politicians make a short term plight to keep the economy short term stable instead of letting a mini crash happen and a blow out happen. It’s not just that’s what economies do that was done by people that were short sighted maybe you should be intelligent enough to know that would happen.
Very quickly, a person’s past actions are the best predictor of their future actions. Most people don’t really change. Sincerity can’t beat accuracy. Accuracy is more important for analyzing the future than sincerity. Sincerity is important but it’s really rare that people would just be blatantly insincere for a long period of time. They just won’t. So you know somebody for three, four, five month, you’ve known them for a long time maybe two years. You feel like, alright I’m good nobody would fake it this long. It’s not that they’re faking it it’s that for whatever reason their makeup is a certain way. Do you know what I mean? And things happen. If they do change, let them establish their new track record. Let them establish their new track record and then you can bet on the new track record after you see proofof it. Being convinced on sincerity, you know a lot of people have lent money and people have not been paid back that way, a lot of people had a lot of things go wrong that way, a lot of people had hired somebody that you know consistently screws off from a job after whatever passes that way, a lot of people have gotten into a romantic relationship or tried to help somebody that was unhelpable or something and their track records involved going against them.
Statistics. When you don’t know what’s going to happen you could --- this is a really, really good trick I don’t know why a lot of people don’t do it --- you could probably divide things into two or three possible outcomes like this would become significant, this won’t become significant but it would be a little bit of a force, or this will fail. And you could actually prepare for all of them. So sometime like really things are just segments into two or three branches and you can look and say, “What’s the best one? Can I push to make it happen more often? What’s the worst one? Can I prepare a little bit?” You know what I mean? Like so a tornado will hit or it won’t, do you have a generator? And if it doesn’t hit, do you have a nice gas stove to go out and have a nice time cooking out in you patio or something. Do you know what I mean? So you can actually prepare for both of them. You can take the branches that you don’t like and prepare against them and try to make the branches that you do like happen. I recommend you do this analysis whenever anything’s complicated. Very rarely, very, very rarely are there more than five large groupings of outcomes that can happen. I would look first at what your best case is and try to make sure that happens and second at whatever’s fatal or really bad and make measures to make that not happen. And take measures to make that not happen.
Understand what individual value and their past record to understand their actions. Some people really, really, really, really, really, really are tight with money and value money. Don’t ever, ever, ever let that person owe you money ever for like five minutes. You know what I mean? Get paid upfront if you’re doing any work with them. On the other hand some people get very, very, very frustrated when they’re waiting or when they’re delayed or when they have to stand in a line of if they have to deal with bureaucracy. That’s me and sometimes – I probably have gone a little bit overboard when I was confronted with bureaucracy or something along those lines. If somebody doesn’t value money very much, maybe because they make it, maybe because they don’t care they’re not money oriented, but they really value their time make sure you keep things moving fast you can usually speed up a number of things. It’s the other way around don’t ask them to pay or you’re going to get kind of reactance, that kind of bad things.
Historicals to do branches of the future and then you can work against those branches specially the fatal ones and work for the good branches. I’ll leave it on a philosophical point. You can anticipate the future. The future is coming --- one way or another --- no actions happens on the future it’s the action on the present that creates the future. But you can anticipate that the future is going to come as a result of the actions that are happening right now. The actions right now are creating the future it’s always the present that’s creating the future. When I say you can anticipate it that means you can look forwards and you can see that these looks a lot like these things that happened it the pass so the likelihood is this will happen. But I got a great quote, it’s from the book Shambhala it’s kind of a Buddhist warrior philosophy thing. It said:
“No, no hope and no fear for expectations are the root of all misery.”
So positive expectation of the future, this is going to work out, I’m going to get the job, I’m going be famous, I’m going to get the money coming. You can anticipate it and predict it, neutral. This is likely to happen and you can plan around it and make decisions that serve you’re ethics. Whether that be your family or your religion or your spirituality or your personal development or the care of your family or whatever, right? You can anticipate the future plan around it to make the future more like the way you want to be in. But positive expectations that things are going to work out the way you want is setting the stage for you to get wrecked and things do go differently because you did miscalculate because people do miscalculate. Julius wasn’t expecting that. That’s hope, no, no hope but also no fear because it’s really the fear that holds you down and stops you from doing things. It’s the idea that taking action here is going to stop you, the idea that conscience makes cowards of us all. What if things are different? What if different is worst? Its opposites. You don’t have to have a negative anticipation of the future either. If something bad is coming down the road, maybe you’ve gotten into a fight in the bar and now the police are looking for you. If you’re fearing it it’s like way more likely to be totally off the rails. It’s much better to say, alright now’s there a likelihood that I made an enemy of a person, I got into a fistfight, I got banned from the bar, I should go think about talking to the police or thinking about getting a lawyer. That kind of, just you know not going for or against it. It gives you a lot of ability to actually change it more to the kind of future you want. No hope and no fear, for expectations are the root of all misery. You can anticipate things and then use your anticipation, use your historicals, use your history, use your statistics, use your planning to make the future into a better one but don’t hope for it and don’t fear it cause that’s the root of all misery.
Well thanks, I’m losing my voice. I’m going to get some juice or some tea.
"Having Your Own Ethics is Lonely" is one of those posts that's been prompting people to comment long after it was written back in October of last year. Yesterday there was a very reflective comment from a reader who largely built out his own ethics, but is starting to realize it can kind of alienate you from other people to some extent. He was reflecting on what he ought to do going forwards. Here's my reply -
There’s no easy answer to this, unfortunately. The more if you differ from mainstream ethics and viewpoints, the more it’s easy to lose touch with how other people think and thus it becomes harder to connect with people. There’s ways to counter-balance this to some extent, but there is a definite tradeoff you’re making. You might consider checking out Plato’s Allegory of the Cave if you’ve never seen it before – if you show someone that their view of the world is wrong and stunted, you’re going to get some serious backlash.
That said, it depends on where you’re at. There are ambitious, enterprising, free-thinking people in the world. They’re rare and they tend to be very busy, but with persistence and outreach and time, you’ll be able to meet and connect with a lot of people like that.
One last thought -
“You just want everyone to be perfect according to your own definitions about things.”
That’s the deal.
I don’t. I don’t know anything.
I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I don’t know what is going to happen in ten seconds. The sky could split open as the aliens descend from above. I wouldn’t know, I certainly wouldn’t have seen it coming. No one would have told me, I’m not that connected. In all the movies they always want to ”contain” the catastrophic things because they don’t want a ”mass panic.”
But hey, if it happens, the super heroes will save us. They always do, in the movies. They are always pulling strings behind the scenes, unseen forces that influence everything, and the public has no idea.
Maybe that’s what is going on. Or maybe it’s the illuminati.