In the comments below, please submit questions for me to answer via podcast.
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In the comments below, please submit questions for me to answer via podcast.
Podcasts will be posted here. You can also find the link at the top of the left sidebar. You can sign up with iTunes or RSS to get notifications.
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(Due to multi-year, sustained harassment from David Deutsch and his fans, commenting here requires an account. Accounts are not publicly available. Discussion info.)
Are you an Obleftivist https://brunoturner.com/the-leftist-perversion-of-objectivism/ or with #MOGA ?
Rand & Popper
Could you talk about your view on Rand and Popper as in how you see their philosophies and on why you do not consider yourself an objectivist?
Please do build up from the fundamentals up until a disagreement and solutions.
> and on why you do not consider yourself an objectivist?
Where is this coming from? Is it something I wrote a long time ago? I do consider myself an Objectivist.
Fair enough. I was under the impression that you rejected some of the Objectivist views but did not know which ones. I stand corrected.
You do seem to be one of very few who have studied both Rand _and_ Popper in depth and thus it would be very interesting to hear you elaborate on this and why you think that so many other Objectivists have issues with Popper without even studying him.
Confession: I do struggle with Popper but I have seen your recommendation to start with two selected works of David Deutsch and will do so.
Thinking from Principles vs Concretes
It would be interesting to hear you elaborate and explain on thinking from principles instead of from concretes. Why we do the latter and give examples on how to start doing more of the former as well as real life examples of the process and differences it might lead to.
Tew talks only with Rucka https://www.youtube.com/user/RuckasBlack
4 new podcasts
I put up 4 new podcasts in the last couple days. I answer the questions above *except* #11508 which I saved for (maybe) later. Also regarding Rand and Popper there's more info in my new videos: https://curi.us/2168-fallible-ideas-philosophy-overview-videos--comments
One episode a day! This is amazing. Keep it up!
I'm curious what you think U.S. immigration policy should be and how your ideas on immigration relate to your philosophy.
#11528 check out:
https://curi.us/podcast/discussing-with-ingracke (Note the time stamp that mentions immigration)
What bad ideas Soros got from Popper?
> What bad ideas Soros got from Popper?
I don't think Soros's ideas really have anything to do with Popper's philosophy.
Why are people wrong about Trump?
How do you change emotions and do less social?
Atlas Shrugged & The Fountainhead
I think you have one of the best comments on Atlas Shrugged that I have found. I understand it takes a lot of work to reflect and write all those comments down, but it would be really interesting to have a audio commentary (or discussion between you and someone else and / or questions) per chapter on Atlas Shrugged & The Fountainhead as a segment.
Even a format similar to the "Atlas Project Live" under your guidance (AS & FH) would be great if you and others are interested.
Thanks for the great podcasts so far!
Austrian econ & Objectivism
How compatible are Austrian economics and Objectivism?
Is Austrian econ rooted in utilitarianism and does it have to be?
Personally I see a big overlap and fail to see why these two should not be compatible (my understanding is also that Rand and Mises thought so as well - except for praxeology, that I know close to nothing about).
I just put up 4 new podcasts and I'm caught up on the submitted questions.
I forgot to mention this when talking about Reisman in the Austrian econ podcast:
Educational Videos: Reading George Reisman's book on Marxism and Socialism
is physical (like chemical imbalance or faulty neurons) or "just in the head" (bad ideas/philosophy) ?
#11582 It's bad ideas, life problems, etc, not chemicals or brain damage. See e.g.:
Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications
Guy claims to understand, used to like, and now disagree with Mises / Austrian Econ. Says he hopes his post "will spark interest and discussion" which at least hints at a PF.
It's beyond my current knowledge and interest level to analyze and critique. But I thought I'd pass it along in case someone here is interested.
#11597 See https://mises.org/wire/caplan-and-responses
Caplan followed up one time. The matter was not resolved, and it was his side which didn't continue.
Actually Caplan wrote at least a third piece. That link collection is pretty incomplete. See Block replying after Caplan's third piece:
> Finally, I invite Caplan to reply again to this missive, to “keep the conversation going” as some Austrian non-praxeological commentators are wont to put it. I don’t think we have come anywhere near a meeting of the minds. But since, in my view, this is due in large part to Caplan’s failure to respond to specific criticisms, I encourage him to be more thorough in this regard.
Asking for a friend ;)
It is such thing as a nonpracticing objectivist?
#11625 This question is lazy. You don't explain what you mean much. You only wrote one sentence and it's awful English.
Also the answer is "no" which requires one word, not a podcast.
Why Atlas Shrugged movies were so bad?
> Why Atlas Shrugged movies were so bad?
I watched the first one. I forget if I watched the second one. I did not watch the third one. So I can't really do a podcast on this.
The big picture reasons they're bad are that the people who made them are like ARI or worse. I did a podcast on ARI recently.
what are some typical misunderstandings you've seen people have about memes?
Meme misconceptions podcast is posted. Here are some notes I used for it:
evo is metaphor (except with genes)
it's not just amateurs who are like this. ppl talk about this stuff in books and it's all vague handwaving. only DD took memes seriously and came up with a technical theory about them. no one else has done good work in the field, period (except ppl building on DD).
ppl don't get the epistemology tie ins
ppl don't take seriously static memes and what it means about their lives – that they are puppets of memes in major ways. they don't view that as a major, urgent problem – this serious lack of control over their own lives – and they don't focus much on researching what is going on there, what can be done about it, how can it be detected or defended against, etc. instead ppl just intuitively feel like it's false or something, and then trust their intuition. but vague intuitions are actually just the kind of things the static memes can control/influence/manipulate more easily (as against like objective scientific statements and math are places where it's harder to be biased).
Dan Dennett has also taken the idea of memes seriously and has written about them in a number of books. In "Consciousness Explained" he proposed that "[h]uman consciousness can be realized in the operation of a virtual machine created by memes in the brain". Deutsch comments on Dennett's book in The Beginning of Infinity, but fails to mention that memes are a major part of Dennett's view on consciousness. Susan Blackmore also took memes seriously - she deserves credit for the idea that memes are responsible for our big brains.
I don't think Blackmore or Dennett's work on memes is any good. If you disagree you should use quotes or otherwise bring up details and specific sophisticated points.
Do you really believe DDs theory of multiple universes is compatible with the concept of objective reality?
#11737 Yes. This question is hard to respond to because it doesn't say what it objects to, what problem it wants addressed. If it's coming from a place of unfamiliarity with MWI then I recommend reading DD's explanations of MWI in his books, especially FoR ch2.
So just because in a lab experiment a single photon still acts like a wave you think the only possible explanation is that an infinity of parallel universes exist
There is no refutation of that view, and there are no other known non-refuted views. This is covered in FoR ch2.
Note that "parallel universes" is a high level approximation. The actual underlying issue is reality has more complexity than is readily visible.
Nah - I'm not gonna defend Blackmore or Dennett. I agree Deutsch has done better work. Perhaps I don't see them as bad as you do and that is my mistake. I'm thinking more of Dennett than Blackmore. I know Dennett has some bad leftwing political views and that tells of bad philosophy. But I don't think he is completely bad. Has any FI person written some good crit's of Dennett's main ideas? Deutsch's criticism in BoI is inaccurate, as someone pointed out on FI list. Is Dennett even aware of Deutsch's work? If not, he is a shit scholar. If so, did he not think it worth writing about in his latest books/articles or commenting on in one of his many talks? Come to think of it, his silence is deafening. Yeah, maybe he is that bad.
#11741 was in reply to #11733
I agree Dennett's silence re DD's meme work is a major concern.
But OK let's take a look. I didn't want to watch a video so I found this:
First paragraph was bad, e.g. didn't say what a meme is, but then I got to the end:
> My talk will be
Oh, it's a talk transcript. I wanted an article. Skimmed a bit. Looked bad. Then:
> After all, even agriculture, in the long run, may be a dubious bargain if what you are taking as your summum bonum is Darwinian fitness (see Diamond, 1997, for fascinating reflections on the uncertain benefits of abandoning the hunter-gatherer lifestyle).
He goes on to talk about memes as basically mind-parasites as if good ideas don't also replicate. I think he has (in 1998) a vague concept of what a meme is instead of taking seriously that it's a replicator and then analyzing it that way. Cuz how do you get from "replicator" to (exclusively) "parasite"? What about, say, a cooking recipe, doesn't that replicate? Moms tell recipes to their daughters and people print copies of them in cookbooks and so on. If someone's analysis has missed that, that seems rather bad to me.
I skimmed to the end and it strikes me as a typical popular fake intellectual stuff that doesn't have much substance.
> He goes on to talk about memes as basically mind-parasites as if good ideas don't also replicate.
I don't think he is saying all memes are basically mind-parasites. He's making an analogy with symbionts and says there are three types of memes:
> parasites, whose presence lowers the fitness of their host;
> commensals, whose presence is neutral (though, as the etymology reminds us, they "share the same table"); and
> mutualists, whose presence enhances the fitness of both host and guest.
So he's saying parasites are one type of meme. He uses the term "parasitized" in an imprecise way in some parts of the article and in a way that seems to contradict his definition. Also:
> Some memes are like domesticated animals; they are prized for their benefits, and their replication is closely fostered and relatively well understood by their human owners. Some memes are more like rats; they thrive in the human environment in spite of being positively selected against--ineffectually--by their unwilling hosts. And some are more like bacteria or other viruses, commandeering aspects of human behavior (provoking sneezing, for instance) in their "efforts" to propagate from host to host.
So he is saying some memes became domesticated and others are undomesticated. Just thinking if this a useful analogy. Thots?
Oh, I missed that when skimming. That's alright then. I still dislike the style and the Diamond praise. Is there an article you think is worth reading?
Maybe "Consciousness Explained"? Except it's not an article. But if you search for "consciousness explained pdf" you should be able to download a pdf then just cruise through the meme stuff. Deutsch ignored it and focused on Blackmore instead but Dennett on memes needs a good critique. He styles himself as the world's foremost expert on memes after all!
The meme king hasn't had anything to say besides part of one book from 1991? No articles with new ideas? Seems damning.
I just read a little of the book and got bored. Is there a passage you think would offer value to me?
He's written plenty of books since 1991 e.g., "Darwin's Dangerous Idea", "Freedom Evolves". Check out his wiki. His most recent is "From Bacteria To Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds" from 2017. That latest book has his most recent ideas but I've only flicked through it and noticed nothing about DD even though it has lots on memes. I'd need to go searching to find a passage as it has been a while since I read any of his stuff and most of it I haven't read.
#11739 The phrase "acts like a wave" is a floating abstraction that you are using to obscure the fact that you have no account of what is happening in single particle interference. The reality is that multiple versions of a photon go down all of the possible paths and interfere with one another at each point in a way that depends on how the photon evolved along each path. This is described in FoR chapter 2.
Why pajamas have stripes?
> Why pajamas have stripes?
I don't know.
what are the best criticisms of the idea of trade deficits being a problem
Which are the biggest problems with libertarianism?
> Which are the biggest problems with libertarianism?
Sympathy and alliance with left.
Mostly not Mises fans/students.
Vague, badly defined label that includes leftists.
Radicals who say they hate violence then chant "smash the state". (But, due to the lack of any organized intellectual leadership or clear meaning to the term, anyone can be deemed not a "real" libertarian to dodge criticism. OK but then what *is* libertarianism that is fair game for criticism?)
Of course it's not a CRIME to be ignorant of economics, but they are betraying the value of economics here. It's good to know the basics – of the subject, and of how economics think – like one should also know the basics of science (like the earth orbiting the sun and also something about scientific method and avoiding bias and experiments).
And why do they want to be ENEMIES of the state instead of being reformers? Gross.
Also if you have to donate money to get a sticker, that is not a "free" sticker.
Also the quote isn't chosen for enlightening people. It's not explaining a good point. It's implying a bunch of people should STFU – whoever the reader doesn't like and deems ignorant (they don't specify so each reader can imagine it applies to different targets).
What is the best investment for small sums of money?
> What is the best investment for small sums of money?
Index funds for small or large sums of money. In the US, use Vanguard. They are good at it and have lower fees. The simplest type is a target date fund. If you want more info, try Ramit Sethi's book: I Will Teach You To Be Rich
The partial exception is if you have employer matching for your 401k. Like for every $2 you put in, your employer puts in $2 or $1, up to a limit. If you have that, max it out. That's super efficient. It might come with restrictions on investments so you have to get other index funds, but it's still worth it. It should allow index funds of some type.
Index funds are good because they give you more diversification. They are the opposite of trying to pick winners and losers. Basically you want bet on the economy as a whole (including international companies, not just US).
what are the best arguments that reparations for black slavery in the USA are a bad idea
Lives worth living.
Hi, I am a fan of your work. All your effort into this is very much appreciated.
In a podcast of Sam Harris with David Deutsch (DD), DD said something that caught my ear. He said that he saw a situation where it's justifiable to the whole human race to commit suicide as a whole. And that lead me to think about that issue. Given that you spent so much time discussing with him, do you know what is that justification? What made me think about was the justification to end ones life. There are people that have truly horrible lives, so horrible that if you were to choose to give existence to that person before he (i'll assume he's a he for simplicity) was born you would increase the overall suffering of humans. So that presumably would be a bad thing. The thing for me that is troubling me is that once that live exists you can only end it by persuading that person to commit suicide. But we know that we have an huge bias against death. So even if that person knew that, he wouldn't kill himself. If he was being rational then he would concede that he was making a mistake. How can we proceed in this case? The truly best thing to do is to kill that person but he doesn't want that. So, killing him is a kind of violence? (because we did something to him without he's consent) Is this an exception where it's a good thing to apply violence?
For reference re #12002
> DD: Human well-being, yes. Now, I actually think that’s true, but I don’t think you have to rest on that. I think the criterion of human well-being can be a conclusion, not an axiom, because this idea that there can’t be any moral knowledge because it can’t be derived from the senses is exactly the same argument that people make when they say there can’t be any scientific knowledge because it can’t be derived from the senses. In the 20th century, empiricism was found to be nonsense, and some people therefore concluded that scientific knowledge is nonsense.
> But the real truth is that science is not based on empiricism, it’s based on reason, and so is morality. So if you adopt a rational attitude to morality, and therefore say that morality consists of moral knowledge—which always consists of conjectures, doesn’t have any basis, doesn’t need a basis, only needs modes of criticism, and those modes of criticism operate by criteria which are themselves subject to modes of criticism—then you come to a transcendent moral truth, from which I think yours emerges as an approximation, which is that institutions that suppress the growth of moral knowledge are immoral, because they can only be right if the final truth is already known.
> But if all knowledge is conjectural and subject to improvement, then protecting the means of improving knowledge is more important than any particular piece of knowledge. I think that—even without thinking of things like all humans are equal and so on—will lead directly to, for example, that slavery is an abomination. And, as I said, I think human well-being is a good approximation in most practical situations, but not an absolute truth. I can imagine situations in which it would be right for the human race as a whole to commit suicide.
"No good deed goes unpunished" is a good argument against altruism?
Could you expand a little about one method to do introspection effectively for someone new to it?
What kind of method, approach, and area / theme would be recommended to begin with?
What are your thoughts on Nathaniel Branden? I have started to listen to his lectures, "The Basic Principles of Objectivism", and to my knowledge, so far, I consider them to be good.
What happened to his views on Objectivism after the fallout with Rand?
If he was a "star student" of Objectivism at one point, how could he abandon correct views in philosophy out of personal spite (if that is what happened)?
Podcasts are now up answering #12357 and #12374
I'm writing this comment because I forgot to include a criticism of Branden.
> Notice further -- and this is especially true of Atlas Shrugged -- how rarely you find the heroes and heroine talking to each other on a simple, human level without launching into philosophical sermons, so that personal experience always ends up being subordinated to philosophical abstractions.
Branden dislikes philosophy, or at least Objectivist philosophy as found in the best book ever written ("philosophical sermons" is a negative comment). And he seems unaware that good philosophy doesn't contradict empirical evidence, so one shouldn't subordinate either to the other. And he thinks people should talk to each other in a "human" way. "human" is one of the words used by or about the *villains* in AS, e.g.:
> “I don’t like Henry Rearden.”
> “I do. But what does that matter, one way or the other? We need rails and he’s the only one who can give them to us.”
> “The human element is very important. You have no sense of the human element at all.”
> “We’re talking about saving a railroad, Jim.”
> “Yes, of course, of course, but still, you haven’t any sense of the human element.”
> “No. I haven’t.”
#12397 Thank you for answering my questions, Curi.
Since I still have stuff by Rand to read as well as Peikoff's OPAR, I'll focus on that instead of Branden.
I was chewing on a bunch of your podcasts after those two I asked about and in the one on *Induction* ( https://curi.us/podcast/induction ) you mentioned Alex Epstein not responding to some of your criticism on his book. I read it some months ago and am very curious on the criticism of methodology issues in particular.
(I'm a guy, not a girl btw - I know in English speaking countries it's usually a girl name, but alas :) )
Re Epstein's book:
And he also helps legitimize psychiatry and medicalize everyday life, in contradiction to liberty, as explained by Szasz. Brief summary of some of Szasz's points: https://www.szasz.com/manifesto.html
He also doesn't know Critical Rationalism, doesn't learn it, and doesn't have a refutation of it either.
What are some good ways to learn speed reading? And what methods are bad and should be avoided?
Are there any good rational arguments against polygamy?
Could you explain consciousness a little bit? Why it is so hard to understand it and what are some of the most common mistakes prevalent today when it comes to understanding consciousness. Also what was Rand's view on it?
Understanding consciousness requires knowing a lot about epistemology, programming/hardware/software and physics. And even then it's not understood very fully or we'd be able to create AGIs.
The most common mistake is overestimating the value of understanding consciousness. You don't really need to know anything about consciousness in order to learn epistemology (or programming, or physics, or art, or architecture, etc.)
How does one work on self motivation? What do do to become less lazy? I want to learn stuff but too often when I am tired I go for instant gratification --> watching a show or whatever random lazy stuff. I want to change this but I do not know how to.
What are some common confusions about fractional reserve banking and what's the right way to think about it?
Context is I was watching this lecture which is very critical of FRB and calls it fraud https://youtu.be/IIztM-B_Eeg
I understand some Austrian stuff about inflation and business cycle theory but have always found the FRB topic a bit confusing
FYI: The two last podcasts ("motivation" and "FRB") output "file not found".
#12676 Thx, reuploaded.
#12679 Great. Thx.
#12669 So why having a central bank is considered to be bad?
What makes a bank "central"? Government support to privilege it above other banks. That support involves laws that favor the bank and taxpayer money used to favor it. So, force and more force.
A three part question on econ.:
1) What is Mises' a priori position in his economical theory, 2) what is Hayek's critique of Mises in general, and 3) why is Hayek wrong on this?
> what is Hayek's critique of Mises in general
He doesn't have one. He presented himself as a Mises ally.
If you want to look up a specific issue where there's some disagreement, I recommend the economic calculation debate. I disliked what Hayek said and thought it undermined Mises and didn't understand Mises. I thought Rothbard was far better. But I don't remember the details of what Hayek said enough for a podcast.
> What is Mises' a priori position in his economical theory
He tries to argue economics stuff using arguments that don't depend on observations or experience (or value judgments). They are meant to be necessary truths like deductive logic or math. I'm not really clear on what the question is, but look at the table of contents and index of *Human Action* to find his explanations.
> He doesn't have one. He presented himself as a Mises ally.
> If you want to look up a specific issue where there's some disagreement, I recommend the economic calculation debate. I disliked what Hayek said and thought it undermined Mises and didn't understand Mises. I thought Rothbard was far better. But I don't remember the details of what Hayek said enough for a podcast.
Thank you. I was under the impression Hayek was disagreeing more with Mises. I will look into the economic calculation debate.
> I'm not really clear on what the question is ...
I don't really understand to what degree Mises relies on a priori nor how he arrives at them.
Since Rand shows there is no a priori knowledge and Mises uses it for his epistemology I am a little confused. What does this entail for Austrian econ as a whole if the whole foundation stands on an a priori knowledge?
I find Austrian econ the best econ by far which make the best arguments on most, if not all, econ issues. But if the a priori foundation builds on some faulty premises I am keen to learn more about it.
I have listened to your podcast on *Austrian econ & Objectivism* ( https://curi.us/files/podcasts/austrian-economics-and-objectivism.mp3 ).
#12806 The a priori issue is tangential and epistemological. It's harmless to Mises' economics. Even if his arguments don't have quite the nature he believes, they are still careful, thorough, generic, difficult to dispute, high quality, etc.
if a hardcore socialist were to become President in the US (like Bernie Sanders or AOC), should people take any specific financial measures in response like move from stocks into gold?
#12873 I just put up a podcast for this. Here are the notes I used when answering the question:
- this is not investing advice
- gold/money won’t fix nightmare, just make it a bit less awful
- govt may tax, confiscate or outlaw gold
- govt already taxes gold extra, as a “collectible”, different than walmart stock
- you aren’t an expert on gold:
- can you evaluate the correctness of all the claims in that article yourself?
- maybe a shitty next president is already priced into the price of gold
- maybe a shitty next president will be priced in by the time they are elected, or a few hours after (but before you manage to buy gold in response to the election – others may be faster than you)
- if you like gold, maybe buy some now, rather than as a reaction to a specific election. that’s perfectly reasonable in our situation. but don’t put a ton of money into gold. don’t do some huge asset shift. use gold to help diversify rather than betting big on it.
- it’s hard to know what would happen with Bernie or AOC as prez. Obama is a Marxist Alinskyite. And he did a shitload of harm but it didn’t multiply the price of gold by 100x or collapse society. Bernie might get less of his agenda done than Obama. And our society and govt have lots of mechanisms to resist radical change and limit the harm, or at least make the change and harm be spread out over time instead of happening suddenly. And various broad trends have been going on for over 100 years.
I agree with what you said about gold and about the limits of its value in nightmare scenarios.
I look at gold kinda like an alternate checking account. Just like my checking account, gold is not intended as an investment. Its purpose isn't to make money, but to have access to some money for spending when and if my checking account is no longer convenient for some reason. I hold enough gold for that purpose and no more.
Around 4 minutes in you indicated that something else might be a better hedge against inflation. I think I know something.
Same disclaimer: This is not investing advice, just general comments.
In an inflation scenario, you can protect yourself some by owning assets which don't deteriorate quickly and aren't tied to a fixed number of dollars. Precious metals meet that criteria. So do real estate, firearms, and stable businesses providing the masses with basic products. Businesses and some real estate (like rental property, commercial property, and farmland) also generally produce income. All of these have downsides and risks of their own of course. And in a true nightmare scenario, they can all be confiscated (think about what happened when Russia and China went communist). They're not "safe" assets. But they are inflation hedge assets.
You can also protect yourself some from inflation by being net short dollars. Meaning, you owe other people more dollars than they owe you. This protection is well known, though not usually characterized as holding a net short position in dollars. One of the main reasons people want inflation is to help make the real value of the debts of net debtors (including the government) go away.
The main downsides to being net short dollars / a net debtor are you have to pay interest, and you have to do something with the money you borrowed. Most net debtors haven't / don't do something very productive with the money they borrow. They mostly waste it, even faster than they waste the money they produce in their job. In those cases the way to look at it is: They're screwing themselves in life big time, and inflation just reduces the amount they screwed themselves by a little. That's dumb, but common. Not at all what I advocate.
But suppose you can borrow money at a fixed 5% interest rate and invest it in a productive endeavor of some sort that returns net risk adjusted cash flows of something like 6%, and involves owning one or more inflation hedge assets. In that case the cash flow from the asset pays the interest on the debt (and then some). If inflation remains tame, the money you borrowed is gradually paid off by the cash flow. If inflation spikes higher, your cash flow commonly rises and with it, the underlying nominal value of the assets you own. Meanwhile your debt payments remain fixed and the real value of both the payments and your debt shrinks.
Opportunities that return net risk adjusted cash flows in excess of the fixed interest rates available to borrowers are fairly scarce most of the time. I'm not sure they'd exist at all in a truly free market. The government makes more of those opportunities available to favored groups by things like FNMA/GNMA backed mortgages on investment property and SBA loans.
Either way, I think being a net debtor of dollars while owning more than the value of the debts in a diversified portfolio of productive inflation hedge assets is the best available protection against inflation, and far better than holding a lot of gold.
#12886 One of the difficulties with real estate is all the laws to prevent building homes and to screw with landlords ability to charge market rates and kick out bad tenants. Maybe rental building space to businesses is a better business with less government crap, idk. But to be effective you gotta actually do something with the real estate to get income, not just own it, and there are lots of restrictions on doing stuff with land.
Also you don't need to actually be in debt to get an inflation hedge, you can reduce your risk with some lesser borrowing.
How good of an inflation hedge is an index fund with stocks like Walmart or Microsoft? They have a ton of assets other than cash.
Also international stocks help hedge stuff some.
Businesses as an Inflation Hedge
In general, ownership in businesses is a good inflation hedge. As prices rise, their revenues rise, and hopefully their profits (but not always...see below).
Index funds are a particularly convenient and accessible way to own a diversified portfolio of businesses. For most people they're by far the best way to own businesses.
Businesses have general risk of failure from ex: bad management or technical obsolescence or customer preference changes. This applies in all environments, inflationary or not. Index funds are great for mitigating that risk by spreading your exposure across lots of businesses.
Additionally, businesses have a special risk in inflationary environments. Prices don't rise uniformly for various reasons. If a business's costs rise faster than its selling prices, inflation can drive a profitable business into a loss. Index funds are also great for mitigating that risk, again by spreading your exposure across lots of businesses. For businesses as a whole, it's more likely that sales prices and costs will rise more equally.
Yes, international index funds can help diversify the inflation risk some too. But then you also have political risks in the other countries.
The main downside to index funds as an inflation hedge is you can't get loans at interest rates below cash flow on index funds. So they're not good vehicles for building a net short dollar position.
Another factor about businesses is that inflation is long term bad for the economy in general, which tends to affect businesses negatively. Depending on the degree of inflation, the bad economy effect could overwhelm any inflation hedge benefit.
> One of the difficulties with real estate is all the laws to prevent building homes and to screw with landlords ability to charge market rates and kick out bad tenants. Maybe rental building space to businesses is a better business with less government crap, idk. But to be effective you gotta actually do something with the real estate to get income, not just own it, and there are lots of restrictions on doing stuff with land.
Indeed. however I think the main regulations (and risk thereof) that matter to income property ownership are only in a couple of categories.
First and most important is rent control. The costs of most other regulations can and do get effectively priced into rental rates. But if rent control keeps rents from rising, not only does that prevent pricing the cost of regulations into rent but it also severely undermines the inflation hedge.
Of lesser importance but still relevant are restrictions on tenant screening and eviction. These regulations are most relevant to well maintained properties in lower price points. They drive rents to higher but more equal levels, by incentivizing all landlords to act as "slumlords": presuming a high risk of bad tenants, pricing and maintaining their properties accordingly.
With a few notable exceptions, the most egregious examples of rent control, restrictions on tenant screening and eviction are local phenomena. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent_control_in_the_United_States, 37 states prohibit or pre-empt rent control. Generally landlord-friendly states do exist. Not coincidentally, they also tend to be the states with more favorable cash flow opportunities.
Of course that could change in an inflationary scenario, just when it matters most. Regulatory risk is real, and should be considered. States could change their laws (sometimes their constitutions). Or the federal government could impose more sweeping regulations.
Net Short Dollar Position
> Also you don't need to actually be in debt to get an inflation hedge, you can reduce your risk with some lesser borrowing.
That's true. And I think it's important to note that colloquially "in debt" usually means having a negative net worth / more debts than assets. Negative net worth is not at all desirable, whether or not there's inflation. And it's not the situation I have in mind when I speak of a net short dollar position.
A net short dollar position in the context of a positive net worth can be desirable in an inflationary scenario.
For example, suppose there's 3 people, A B and C, who all have an equal positive net worth of $325k.
A: has $250k in the bank, and a cash flowing rental property valued $200k with a $125k mortgage against it.
B: has $175k in the bank, and 2 $200k valued cash flowing rental properties (total value $400k), each with $125k mortgages (total $250k of debt).
C: has $325k in the bank.
C's long dollar position is $325k.
A has a long net dollar position of $125k ($250k in bank - $125k debt = +$125k).
B has a short net dollar position of $75k ($175k in bank - $250k debts = -$75k).
Others owe A more dollars than A owes to others. Whereas with B the opposite is true, B owes more dollars to others than others owe to B. We could say B is "in debt", and in strictly dollar terms that's true even though he has the same net worth as A and C.
For a simple scenario, suppose inflation causes prices for goods, including rental properties, to approximately double. Now we find:
A: has $250k in the bank, a $400k valued rental property with a $125k mortgage. A's nominal net worth is now $525k.
B: has $175k in the bank, two 400k rental properties (total 800k) and still $250k debts. B's nominal net worth is now $725k.
C: has $325k in the bank.
If we divide by 2 in order to compare back to their original net worths in real terms, because of the inflation only:
A's real net worth = 525k/2 = $262.5k (lower than the $325k he had before inflation)
B's real net worth = 725k/2 = $362.5k (higher than the $325k he had before inflation)
C's real net worth = 325k/2 = $162.5k (much lower than the $325k he had before inflation)
Of course, B faces the largest amount of other risks, particularly deflation in rental property prices and regulatory risk. And A still got some hedge, winding up substantially better off than C. The purpose here isn't to say that B is always better off or "right", but merely to show how B is better off in a specific inflationary scenario.
The Mises people appear to view stocks as an inflation-protected investment.
In the podcast *Social Dynamics* you talk a briefly about that most psychology research is bad.
Why is that and can you talk some about the biggest pitfalls and how to detect the most common mistakes regarding psy papers?
#13082 They're mostly badly-controlled, badly-randomized, use non-representative samples, have terrible measurement standards (e.g. badly written surveys), aren't reproducible, and *study correlation instead of causation*.
Here is an example of terrible surveying which holds itself up not merely as psych research but as *brain science*:
Social science in general says "doing our research like a physics experiment is too hard. we can't control conditions that much because we're dealing with more complex stuff." So they lower standards dramatically for their field.
How do I get my 15 yo daughter to stop sending naked pictures of herself to boys?
Why are so many people against Israel and pro Palestine?
What are the common arguments and why should they reconsider (I know you are pro Israel)?
What is your view of class action lawsuits? Is it a good thing that they exist? What about cases where big numbers of people are getting like $20 checks for some harm that allegedly befell them? Is that something courts should deal with?
#13133 And adding to the question, here is the Safeway judgment that sent me $20, what about that one specifically? http://www.safewaygrocerydeliveryclassaction.com
False beliefs about rent control
Here are a few false beliefs I had about rent control.
## False belief about rent control #1
*False belief*: In almost every place in the U.S., there's a maximum amount by which the landlord can raise the rent on an existing tenant (though that limit may be high, e.g. 100%).
> As of 2018, four states (California, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland) and the District of Columbia have localities in which some form of residential rent control is in effect...
So the other 46 states have no form of residential rent control. In those states, landlords can raise rents as much as they like, provided they're not doing so for an illegal reason such as racial discrimination or retaliation.
## False belief about rent control #2
*False belief*: Say there's a legal limit on how much a landlord can raise the rent on an existing tenant. And say that limit is much higher than what the market would bear. For example, say the legal limit is 100%, but supply and demand pushes rents up by only 2% annually. Then that limit is *not* what is commonly referred to as rent control.
Also, I falsely believed that even if the legal limit mentioned above was *technically* considered rent control, people would not commonly refer to it as such.
> Rent control in the United States refers to laws or ordinances that set price controls on the renting of American residential housing. They function as a price ceiling.
## False belief about rent control #3
*False belief*: I had never lived in a unit which had rent control.
I had in fact lived in a jurisdiction in which rent increases were limited to approximately 3% annually.
Error in #13154
#13154 should have been posted as a reply to #12903.
I posted #13154 on this page ("Submit Podcast Questions") because Google listed this page as the first result for "rent control" on the site curi.us. However, at that time, "rent control" was only mentioned in one comment: #12903. So posting #13154 without referencing #12903 was confusing.
In a recent stream ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z93KKNbycgo ) you mention that schools usually have bad methods teaching math, hence many people get put off by / come to dislike math. What are some good methods to learn math and why are they better?
What to do if the following AS passage resonates a lot with me and is painful
> "It is not any crime you have ever committed that infects your soul with permanent guilt, it is none of your failures, errors or flaws, but the blank-out by which you attempt to evade them-it is not any sort of Original Sin or unknown prenatal deficiency, but the knowledge and fact of your basic default, of suspending your mind, of refusing to think.
> Fear and guilt are your chronic emotions, they are real and you do deserve them, but they don't come from the superficial reasons you invent to disguise their cause, not from your 'selfishness,' weakness or ignorance, but from a real and basic threat to your existence: fear, because you have abandoned your weapon of survival, guilt, because you know you have done it volitionally.
> "The self you have betrayed is your mind; self-esteem is reliance on one's power to think. The ego you seek, that essential 'you' which you cannot express or define, is not your emotions or inarticulate dreams, but your intellect, that judge of your supreme tribunal whom you've impeached in order to drift at the mercy of any stray shyster you describe as your 'feeling.' Then you drag yourself through a self-made night, in a desperate quest for a nameless fire, moved by some fading vision of a dawn you had seen and lost.
What is your perspective on the recent stock market downturn that people are attributing to China's devaluation of their currency in response to Trump's tariff threats? Supposedly the currency devaluation is what the market is reacting strongly to. Does the market's reaction to China's currency devaluation make sense?
#13224 idk i haven't been following the details much. ppl should try reading Mises... None of the big actors understand economics so they're all making a mess. And that's not specific to the current leadership – if it wasn't Trump, it'd be someone else fucking up. (Just a handful of major US politicians *might* be significant better, *maybe*, on these particular issues, like Cruz and Paul. The dems would be even worse.)
See also http://curi.us/1804-donald-trump-is-a-protectionist
Have Rand, Szasz or any other of the big thinkers anything to say on nostalgia? I have never been much for it, but as I have faced a rough half a year on a couple of fronts (personal as well as business) I have developed a strong nostalgia for the 80's & 90's. I understand it being some sort of yearning for a better past. Do you have anything to say on why so many people get nostalgic when they grow up - why, when, and how to not get stuck in it (I think it is bad because it can take away one's focus of today and the future). Is it because we are not happy with where we are today?
Have you studied this essay by Rand (+ lots of other Oism material)? If not, maybe you'd get some insight from doing that.
VoS — "How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society?”:
>And then, on some gray, middle-aged morning, such a man realizes suddenly that he has betrayed all the values he had loved in his distant spring, and wonders how it happened, and slams his mind shut to the answer, by telling himself hastily that the fear he had felt in his worst, most shameful moments was right and that values have no chance in this world.
I have read VoS but do not remember this part. I will revisit it. Thank you, Kate.
When you introspect. How do you make sure you are being honest and are not rationalizing?
When, if ever, do you think it is appropriate to voice disagreement against the way someone is parenting their child? Presumably, there are situations where one sees bad parenting and doesn't want their silence to be interpreted as sanction.
What are some of the evil key players that are pushing bad ideas in the world? Could you elaborate a little about them and why they are evil? I'm thinking about people such as Soros, Alinsky, and Klein (Naomi) - to name a few. Also, would you put Chomsky in that category and if so why?
> What are some of the evil key players that are pushing bad ideas in the world? Could you elaborate a little about them and why they are evil? I'm thinking about people such as Soros, Alinsky, and Klein (Naomi) - to name a few. Also, would you put Chomsky in that category and if so why?
That is, which ones should one be aware of and why.
#13310 I've talked about that before and recommended literature too, e.g. Horowitz's *Shadow Party* book and Discover the Networks webpages. If you start looking into it and have a question that'd be more interesting to me than asking for an introductory summary given no background knowledge or context (which is something already addressed by existing material).
Ok. I will start looking there and if I have follow up questions I'll post them here.
What's your opinion of the American founding fathers as intellectuals? Have a favorite among them? A least favorite?
#13318 I haven't read them enough to do a podcast on that. I know Jefferson said some awful things like:
> The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
I dislike Thomas Paine after reading his *Rights of Man*. It's a response to Burke about the French Revolution which does not understand Burke and has low argument quality.
Youngblood - "say you need me"
can you review the song Youngblood?
it says "say you need me" instead of "do you need me?"
like he could be meaning "say you need me [even if it's not true]"
What do you think of today's movies and the philosophy that they portray? Even the hero movies of today focus more on the fallen part of the hero more than the heroic in them (on the "cold sore" as Rand wrote in *The Romantic Manifesto*). Why do you think that this has become the focus and what most self proclaimed intelligent people say that they like? *Logan* (Wolverine losing his abilities, Xavier becoming demented) being the highest rated X-men movie for example.
Some interesting quotes from Rand that I believe the artists of today, the *naturalists*, has gotten wrong, compared to the *romanticists*, as they have ceased to provide the culture of a heroic ideal:
>The basic purpose of art is not to teach, but to show—to hold up to man a concretized image of his nature and his place in the universe. (**RM**)
>The Romanticists did not present a hero as a statistical average, but as an abstraction of man’s best and highest potentiality, applicable to and achievable by all men, in various degrees, according to their individual choices. (**RM**)
>That which is not worth contemplating in life, is not worth re-creating in art. (**RM**)
>Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent. (**RM**)
>If one saw, in real life, a beautiful woman wearing an exquisite evening gown, with a cold sore on her lips, the blemish would mean nothing but a minor affliction, and one would ignore it.
But a painting of such a woman would be a corrupt, obscenely vicious attack on man, on beauty, on all values--and one would experience a feeling of immense disgust and indignation at the artist. (There are also those would feel something like approval and who would belong to the same moral category of the artist.) (**RM**)
#13288 Something I forgot to say in the podcast: It helps to put your introspection into words. That makes it easier to analyze and look for flaws. Speaking outloud is better than speaking in your head. Recording your voice is better than not recording. Writing is the best.
If you record or write, you can look at your introspections 3 minutes, 3 days, or 3 weeks later. The fresh perspective will help you find errors and lies. You want to think about what the words actually mean, as written (how would a stranger read them?) instead of just remembering what you meant. Waiting helps you forget what you meant. The point is to analyze the words objectively instead of cutting corners and fudging because you think you know what you mean.
> It helps to put your introspection into words. That makes it easier to analyze and look for flaws. Speaking outloud is better than speaking in your head. Recording your voice is better than not recording. Writing is the best.
Interesting. Some of the things that make for a good discussion with others also make for a good discussion with yourself.
In your podcast *Philosopher's Mistakes* ( https://curi.us/files/podcasts/philosophers-mistakes.mp3 ) you say that Ayn Rand got some things about psychiatry wrong. What did AR get wrong about psychiatry?
Sense of life
Ayn Rand writes about *a sense of life* in many places (e.g. RM, RotP, PWNI). I still have a hard time to understand what it is, how one forms it, and, if wanting to, changes it.
How should one think to get a better sense of the concept, *a sense of life*?
Popper - Objectivism
I'm reading *The Shadow Party* ( https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Party-Hillary-Radicals-Democratic/dp/1595551034 ).
In it, authors, David Horowitz, and Richard Poe, talk about how Karl Popper was the teacher of George Soros and argued for the idea of the open society (Popper's book: *The Open Society and Its Enemies* (I have not read *OSaiE*)).
Could this, Popper's political views, be why Popper is so disliked by many Objectivists, and not his arguments against induction?
I did not know about Popper having these views before reading *SP*.
#13376 She didn't know all the stuff in Szasz's books.
#13329 I did Youngblood on stream at https://youtu.be/EvGcO4PdVIc starting at 36:30
Most people are bad at judging what is bad / good research. How does one become better at judging what is bad / good research? What are some of the most common things to look for?
#13385 Soros is not basing his ideas on CR and didn't learn much from Popper.
*Open Society* is a pretty good book. Popper doesn't pretend to be a free trader or capitalist economist (as e.g. Hayek did). He's not into limited, small government and also doesn't pretend to be. Popper is left of center and knows it – he expresses some sympathy with socialism in his autobiography – and nevertheless has lots of good criticisms of Marx. They' not complete but they're worth saying. (This is from memory. I haven't read OSE recently.)
IME, it's induction and related issues which I have found Objectivists bring up and complain about regarding Popper.
Why do people hate math so much? I'm guessing it has something to do with school trying to make people learn it thru force, but it seems like it's something people especially hate. Maybe because math is more objective, and so you can't just be ***partially right*** about it? Or maybe school is like especially bad at trying to teach math?
#15579 FYI: Idk what I meant by "partially right". And I have not tried to apply the asking better questions podcast to my questions.
How could the Coronavirus affect the economy (not just the stock market)?
Fallibility and Mistakes
> Fallibillity, does not imply any particular mistake. No real-life failure can ever be blamed on fallibility. which may sound kinda "duh". but ppl ignore this quite often.
> the fact that mistakes happen, in no way excuses this particular one, whihc was avoidable.
Are you saying that all particular mistakes are avoidable? That some are? If so, which ones? I’m not understanding the philosophical idea here.
Maybe explaining the idea would make a good podcast topic. Or maybe it's too simple or too complicated for a podcast topic.
Mentality - mentioned here: https://curi.us/2386-internetrules-microblogging#18523
- common mistakes
- good foundations
- mentality on stuff that matters, specific cases or edge cases (e.g. being overly confident, esp with projects that require money/resources)
- bigger picture mentality; oneself in the world
- micro mentality, e.g. nerves in a speedrun