How Low Can You Go?

People who use foreign words/phrases too much are trying to impress you: these are likely posers who think unusual words make them appear more intelligent.

If you really don’t give a fuck, you don’t bother going all the way to buy a shirt saying so.

Likable idiots do disproportionate damage to any society which allows them to become famous enough. So many take the advice of those they like to heart, without regard to its wisdom/relevance.

Buddhists apparently have the highest measured IQ in western countries, and still they see no problem with karma, which fully blames the blameless for their misfortunes. Clearly, IQ measurement is far from perfect.

Sincere ideological allegiance is incompatible with independent-mindedness; pride in it is also incompatible with intelligence. Ideology is poison for the mind.

Don’t assume excellence in any field confers competence in anything else, even in a closely-related area. Awards are no guarantee either.

Ideological/factional labels actively promote stupidity: whenever the label implies a bullshit conclusion, the need to rally and defend faith and comrades feels irresistible.

Demeaning people in public suggests a deep-seated feeling of personal inadequacy, especially if it’s without provocation.

People who claim they’re amazing signal the unlikelihood of their claim.

Shouting slogans at public events is a death sentence to critical thought: that kind of public commitment makes you less likely to change your mind, and more likely to double down. When that happens, admitting being wrong also means admitting stupidity and desperation: most people prefer life-long denial to that kind of embarrassment.

Open accusations often reveal more about the accuser than the accused.

Many people seem to instinctively regard their favorite politician as a personal friend, a feeling which most certainly isn’t reciprocated.

Anger turns people into idiots: no one thinks straight in that state of mind. Hate does the same, even when it’s directed to alleged “hate” groups.

If you have personal heroes, you have a problem. Dig deeper, and you’ll find these supposed heroes are overrated and all too often much more flawed than most of us, which is perhaps not a coincidence. Why feel the need to compare yourself to unrealistic depictions of someone else, anyway?

A great way to control people is to convince them that following you and your ideas will bring them freedom. It’s even better when they believe you’re their only possible source of freedom: in that case they’re your life-long slaves.

Following the herd was useful in the stone age when killers/predators were constantly running in, since going your way makes a killer target you, leaving the compact herd safe. In the modern age those situations hardly ever happen to anyone; if anything, herd behavior is individually-detrimental more often than not.

Watch as the latest movement shouting for justice slowly turns into yet another force actively promoting injustice against non-members. The louder the screams, the more hypocrisy the faithful will be able to ignore in due time.

Every sincere believer in a cause is a useful idiot for powerful cliques, whether already established or in the making. The most committed activists are gold for the ruthless.

Some people will do anything for approval, or even the mere pretense of it.

Envy, anger, revenge, and desperation are the secret drivers of surprisingly many people’s lives.

Movie actors are possibly the least qualified to give intelligent life-advice: sticking to auditions and begging for roles during their early years suggests they must have seriously thought acting is a viable career path all along. How can you expect them to give others good advice when they can’t even give it to themselves? The same argument applies to lottery winners, famous musicians, etc.

Ease of offense suggests a severe lack of intelligence.

I still can’t believe postmodernists and deconstructionists exist, let alone that they take their thoughts so seriously. On that note, they can’t even see their hypocrisy as they claim everything is relative unless it’s their own thoughts which are being debated.

In environments of extreme politeness, idiotic ideas thrive unchallenged.

Crowds are where people hide their own cowardice.

All ideologies you find in the wild have little-to-no connection to reality, when you examine their core assumptions. I suspect their rejection of reality is precisely the main reason for their popularity.

Few things make the world worse than a group of committed activists.

Seriously wondering “What if I’m an idiot?” and “What if I’m wrong?” when you’re still young enough is the birthmark of long-term improvements to your thinking.


Catchy quotes don’t prove shit.

You can blame/praise people for the choices they make in life, but you can’t honestly do the same for the circumstances of their birth. No one ever chooses how they’re born.

Becoming famous – even if briefly – has never been easier, while becoming a myth has never been harder. Think about Homer: his mythic status is because we know practically nothing about him, and likely never will.

The most beautiful young women have the most to lose as they age. The choice for other women is whether to envy or pity them. But then there’s plastic surgery: I wonder if egalitarian activists will one day declare it an essential human right.

Perhaps the original eugenicists were right all along, since it really seems thoughtful people are more likely to deliberately avoid having multiple kids, or any kids at all.

Literal stupidity can be bliss, like a baby first looking at something new, mouth agape and stupefied.

It’s not free if you have to buy something else to get it.

Assuming rationality in others is irrational.

Being surrounded by an enthusiastic audience can infect even a hardened skeptic with a sense of euphoria, even when told obvious nonsense from a mediocre speaker.

A useful bias when evaluating debates is to assume all sides are wrong.

All news media are biased and distort reality, even those which believe they strive for facts and neutrality. So-called “independent” media are often even worse.

Following the news will actively worsen your understanding of the world, since at best they’re meant to entertain by showing what’s striking or unusual, as opposed to what’s typical and/or relevant. The only way to improve you understanding is to dig into “boring” reports and statistical extracts using a trained skeptical eye: you may still occasionally fall into counter-intuitive statistical misinterpretations, but you should be fine overall.

You can never save money by spending it, no matter how low the price asked.

Being cynical about most people is a mistake, since cynical exploitation requires self-awareness and intelligence: these are rare qualities among people, especially in combination. Most people mean well and have mediocre intelligence at best; when they act strictly in their self-interest, they rarely do so consciously, and instinctively cling to some well-sounding high-minded excuse which prevents cognitive dissonance.

Academic degrees are no antidote to ignorance.

Academic degrees are no antidote to stupidity.

The more detailed a generalization, the higher the chance of it being wrong.

By definition, successful politicians are good at getting enough votes. Don’t assume they’re good at anything else, since their most valuable talent is self-promotion. Often enough, the same is true for high-level managers and executives.

Creativity and bullshit are faces of the same coin: the problem is determining the current worth of that coin in its ever-changing exchange-rate with reality.

There’s no cure/immunity to stupidity: as the years go by, you can only grow mental antibodies to reduce its negative effects.

Being cynical of high ranks in big organizations is essential to better understand societies and the world; the same habit is often useful to better understand medium-sized organizations as well.

The conscious goal of reducing/avoiding stupidity seems much more effective than explicitly trying to increase intelligence. Try to prevent/contain your stupidity and its results as a conscious strategy.

Our brains haven’t evolved to make some subjects intuitive, such as modern Physics, Probability, and (ironically) biological Evolution: everyone is born a creationist.

Actions are more expensive than words: value them accordingly.

People admitting something against their self-interest often convey much more information than when they claim something which is predictable and compatible with their apparent self-interest. Accordingly, you should usually give way more weight to the first kind of info. By the way, unexpected data being much more informative than the predictable kind is also a key idea in mathematical information theory.

The popularity of ideas doesn’t imply their relevance or correctness: a billion people believing in some idea doesn’t make it correct, or even good.

Be careful what you wish for: if you really want a highly-artistic/creative child, an excellent bet seems to be mating with a schizophrenic, especially one with a family history of the problem.

When subjected to what seems indoctrination, try to answer the question: who gains how much from whom believing what? An accurate answer will give you a practical baseline to predict people’s behavior.

The fact that a non-trivial dose of inequality is inherent, unavoidable, and seemingly necessary in any viable/living ecosystem is a deeply-unsettling prospect for some ideologues.

Long-lasting institutions have a tendency to shift resources into marketing efforts aimed to justify the need for their existence. The corollary is that those internal marketing departments are doing the same for themselves.

The golden rule “do to others what you wish they did to you” seems wonderful advice which everyone should follow, until you realize there are plenty of masochists out there.

Respect should be earned, instead of being automatically granted: why not automatically grant people dignity instead? Of course, the same doesn’t apply to ideas: they deserve neither automatic respect nor dignity.

You don’t need fancy words when you have something useful to say; conversely, their presence is often a sign of bullshit.

When two people disagree, at least one of them is wrong.

There are no saints, there are no demons, there are only real people: many are good enough, if you treat them well; some people are even better than that, despite their flaws.

One good way to evaluate options/actions is considering how easily reversible the consequences of each are. For example, you shouldn’t reveal most kinds of personal info, unless doing so is extremely advantageous: the sharing of such information is rarely highly beneficial and it can’t be effectively retracted, especially in the internet era.

When they’re not lying, people rarely know the reasons for their behavior.

Ignore people’s claims as a habit: instead, carefully watch over time what they do without them knowing they’re being studied.

Prefer “how much” or “how often” to “if” in your questions.

Most jobs seem little more than highly-sophisticated forms of begging.

Once you realize everyone is just an overgrown shrimp look-alike – that’s how an early fetus looks to me – it’s much harder to feel intimidated by people in high places.

Skepticism isn’t a virtue, but only a tool to dampen the brain’s natural stupidity.

When insincere compliments are accompanied by a sincere smile, they can have an amazing effect on the recipient.

Advice for the shy: realize that any stranger you’ll ever meet is a distant cousin. Reminder for the prudes: that means reproduction always involves a form of mild inbreeding.

Scientific and Technical

History can’t predict what any given situation will lead to next, and historical counterfactual scenarios are mental masturbation at best. All that history can give you is plausibility arguments by tautological reasoning: so-and-so can happen because in this-and-that year something very similar to what you describe did happen. In other words: so-and-so can happen because it’s already happened, more or less.

The honest, transparent, and systematic use of empirical methods seems such a nice idea: too bad the “social sciences” seem mostly allergic to it.

The statistical law of large numbers doesn’t tell you the universe is bound to compensate any unbalanced deviations by temporarily promoting an opposite counter-force. On the contrary, imagine a running fraction of successes-to-tried-so-far: the occasional misbehavior of the numerator – which can stay the same or increase by 1 – matters less and less as the denominator reliably increases by 1 every step. This flies in the face of beliefs such as karma, yin-yang, and other cosmic-balance implausibilities.

High-dimensional spaces are very lonely places. Try to calculate the distance of two points on the opposite corners of a square, then a cube: keep adding dimensions and watch the distance keep increasing. (To calculate it, multiply the number of dimensions with the square of the side’s length, then take the square root.)

All too often, Math-trained academics prefer to engage in delusions where the world must follow some beautiful mathematical formula they came up with, rather than try to describe it from insights gained from empirical observations and possibly uglier equations. It’s a platonic attitude of “my ideas first, reality second, and evidence be damned”.

The square root is how you squeeze lengths out of areas; the cube root is how you squeeze lengths out of volumes. When that’s a good idea is another matter.

History can’t predict, it can only show what can happen.

Many successful parasites have a tendency to give something useful back to their host, making them less of a stereotypical parasite. I suspect that’s also the case for ideas and beliefs.

Proper citations are a widely-accepted type of argument by authority. Citations don’t prove anything on their own, since it’s possible to find lots of works to support almost anything you wish to claim, along with its opposite.

Embryologists used to think people are literally overgrown assholes, but more recent research suggests the mouth hole actually starts opening weeks before the ass hole.

Correlation isn’t causation: while true, it’s easy to forget that lack of correlation tells you a causation is unlikely, while its presence doesn’t exclude the possibility of causation as decisively.

A vote is worthless in a regional/national election: there are just too many votes in total; this as an example of how people don’t understand division. As for those trained extensively in Math who disagree, I take it as a sign that deep inside they don’t believe rational numbers (fractions) are relevant to the real world.

They say good is the enemy of perfect, but perfect is the enemy of life: living systems require imperfection starting at their most fundamental levels. Life is the result of a runaway and slightly-defective information-replication mechanism: if the replication of information from the nucleic acids were perfect, evolution and thus life couldn’t have really happened.

All these astrophysicists and their big-thing measuring contests need to resize their exuberance. If they kept their feet to the ground they could consider the cabbages inside our heads instead: there’s emergent self-awareness with occasional spurts of thinking and meta-cognition in such a small space. Now that’s what I call impressive!

Since I’m not the first to point out how 100 decimal digits of pi is more than we need to do anything useful with that number, I’ll point out how it’s long started to look like a dick-measuring contest, even despite the prospect of future statistical insights in the field of number theory.

The assumptions in most mathematical models are in practice almost always debatable oversimplifications. Casinos and statistically-designed scientific experiments are the 2 most reliable exceptions I’m aware of: this is especially so for the latter, since experimental protocols are purposefully designed to follow some math model.

Snark Attack

Liberté, fraternité, bullshit soufflé.

I read “colonialism does not spark joy”, I think “neither does your propaganda”.

Apparently, nothing says exclusive more than buying overpriced mass-produced goods.

Big car, small dick? I dunno about that. What I know is that often enough it’s “big car, big dickhead”.

The Carcano rifle from 1938 easily projects bullets to Mach 1.9 speed. It’s a mind-blowing fact: just ask president Kennedy.

The king’s personal guard, reporting a rebellion: “Your majesty, the people are revolting!” The king: “I know, they’re disgusting indeed”

Sometimes I like to play amateur urban zoologist… one of my favorite species is the downtown Lambo(rghini). Its powerful late-night roar is a sound to behold: I love the sweet sound of daddy’s laundered klepto money!

Given their stench, some “eau de toilette” perfumes should be called “eau de toilet”.

Wow, look at him! I bet he’s scoring triple his record tonight: ‘cause the triple of nothing is still nothing!

I hear the chant “sexual freedom”, I think “someone really needs to get laid”.

I hear “I’m confident”, I think “if you were, you’d never need to say it”.

Clever Stupidity

need to add a few here…

Sacred-Cow Burgers

censored, at least for now…