Consider the following scenario: you are holding a stopwatch in your hand. Start the watch and then stop it after precisely ten seconds, all without glancing at the time. If you repeat this process many times in a row, you will find that reaching 10 seconds on the dot is almost difficult. Sometimes you'll be a bit short, and other times you'll be a little longer. You may be off by a few milliseconds at times. Other times, you're off by a fraction of a second, or even more than that. In any case, you will wind up with a collection of mistakes that have no obvious pattern and no discernible origin as a result of this small experiment. This is an example of noise, or a series of unpredictably bad decisions. And although your mistakes in this small stopwatch experiment seem harmless enough, as you will soon discover, differences in judgment such as these may have much more severe ramifications. Please accept my invitation to the weird realm of noise.
A new book, 12 Rules For Life (2018), presents readers with an inventory of life's most urgent problems as well as challenges that have been in the human mind since the dawn of civilization. To help us live a meaningful life, author Jordan B. Peterson has compiled some of the most lasting philosophical and theological statements, as well as the teachings from some of our most beloved stories, into a collection of 12 principles. These clear and consistent rules, which draw on philosophy, psychology, history, and myth, may be followed by anybody.
When some individuals live a joyful and creative life, others appear to be stuck in a comfortable but stressful rut. What is it about certain people that makes them happy and creative? Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, provides the solution. According to Flow, a landmark book in psychology, in our increasingly worried and distracted lifestyles, we may become too focused on external incentives and opinions, leading to burnout (for example, by compulsively comparing ourselves with our peers). A much needed cure is provided by the book, which provides methods that allow us to concentrate instead on intrinsic rewards, which may lead us to get so completely immersed in our hobbies that we reach a state of pure flow. As a result, we simply do not care about external rewards such as power or money, and we do not even bother to examine the views of others while we are in this condition.
Forecasts and predictions are made on a wide range of topics, including the weather, the stock market, next year's budget, and who will win this weekend's football game, among many others. However, these are not the only topics about which we make predictions. As a result of our obsession with predicting, we get upset when events do not unfold in the manner in which we had anticipated them. So, can predictions be made that are more accurate than they are today? They have the ability. Within a few months, we'll be able to produce superforecasts that are trimmed and realigned with each new piece of information, and then evaluated and improved after the predicted event has occurred. In these notes, we'll look at the difficult but fascinating skill of producing the ultimate predictions, which is both hard and interesting.