So if you haven't heard, science is in a bit of a crisis right now. There's a growing replication crisis as previously accepted truths are falling apart one by one. This is particularly true in psychology as well as medicine (although that might have more to do with financial conflicts of interest).
For example, apparently the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, where those playing the guards brutally mistreated those playing the prisoners, was something close to academic fraud. Not only has it failed to be replicated, but Philip Zimbardo, the man who ran the original study, actually coached the "guards" to be cruel. According to Ben Blum's expose,
"Once the simulation got underway, Jaffe explicitly corrected guards who weren’t acting tough enough, fostering exactly the pathological behavior that Zimbardo would later claim had arisen organically."
James Heathers has a great thread on the list of either debunked concepts that had previously been accepted as true, or concepts that have been thrown into question:
The list includes:
- Social Priming
- "The Robber's Cave"
- The Stanford Marshmallow Test
- Ego Depletion
- Power Posing
- The aforementioned Stanford Prison Experiment (Stanford has really been getting rocked lately)
- The Facial Feedback Hypothesis
- Newborns can imitate
- Pretty much everything about the hormone Oxytocin
- The Blocking Effect
- Stereotype Thread
- Universal Facial Emotion
- And obviously, precognition
Some of the problem has to do with it being much harder to publish a paper that shows no result than one that shows a positive result. Who wants to read proof that some hypothesis isn't true? Or who cares if something turns out to not be a problem. A lot of these studies go unpublished and thereby distort the literature on the subject. Especially since the media will jump on the studies that show a big result or a big problem.
This is called "the file drawer problem." Perhaps if I get rich enough, I'll try to start an academic journal solely dedicated to papers in any field that showed no result or that a hypothesis was false. What academic would do a bunch of work on a subject and then turn down the opportunity to at least get published somewhere? That way, at least there will be a record of dissent when someone tries to publish something with an outlandish result.
That being said, I must note that I find this all to be a little tragic. I really like the idea behind the Stanford Marshmallow Test (that deferral of gratification is key to success) and ego depletion (that we literally run out of willpower if we use it too much). The former is still true (it just has more to do with the environment one grows up in or perhaps genetics, not a learned habit) and the latter may be true, but not to the degree once thought. But I really liked those concepts. It's sad to see them go, or at least be greatly diminished.
The following is a Graduate paper I wrote on 3D printing on a very interesting subject I have repurposed for this site. The project was to evaluate and critique a segment of the show How it was Made. I chose 3D printers, which could revolutionize the world we live in.
How 3D Printers Are Made
The 3D printers highlighted on the show works as follows:
One of the most interesting things about the manufacturer How it is Made chose to highlight is how most of the parts used to build the 3D printer (over 40) were actually printed by the 3D printer itself. The process works as follows:
The printer is then ready to operate. For a two toned printer, two filament reels are installed into a double extruder head.
Analysis and Critique
The episode did a great job of showing how a 3D printer is put together as well as what kind of figurines it can design. The step-by-step process it walked the viewer through was easy to follow and engaging, especially given almost all the parts in the 3D printer were printed by a 3D printer itself.
That being said, the program only devoted approximately six minutes to this segment and it brought to mind several significant questions that went unanswered.
The first major blind spot was the software side of the equation. A digital printer obviously requires a three-dimensional, rendered blueprint to guide the printer. None of the software requirements nor the program used were discussed other than in a passing reference.
However, the larger and more interesting questions that are left unanswered regard how this type of 3D printer ranks amongst other 3D printers and what the potential for 3D printing is.
It would be legitimate to respond that such questions are outside the scope of a show about how things are made, but they are, in my judgement, the most intriguing questions regarding 3D printers. And indeed, the potential for 3D printing is quite extraordinary. Even today, much more complicated objects are being created by 3D printing. Elizabeth Royte describes some of the items she saw that were printed at 3D Systems’ plant in Rock Hill, South Carolina,
“A fully functioning guitar made of nylon. A phalanx of mandibles studded with atrocious-looking teeth. The skeleton of a whale. A five-color, full-scale prototype of a high-heeled shoe. Toy robots. And what appears to be the face of a human fetus.”
And it gets far crazier than that. As Tim Lewis notes in The Guardian, “Scientists are racing to make replacement human organs with 3D printers.”
The possibilities for this technology appear to border on the edge of science fiction, such as the replicators that can instantly create various beverages and other items in Star Trek: The Next Generation. If 3D organ printing does become a reality, it could solve an enormous shortage of viable organs for transplant. According to The Washington Post, “organ shortage kills 30 Americans every day.” And that’s just in the United States, for the world at large, that number is much, much higher. And that’s just one of 3D printing’s many potential uses.
There is also a potential downside, though. After all, if 3D printing becomes so advanced and cheap that it can create virtually anything, how exactly will the normal person be able to sell his or her labor?
This concern is commonly referred to as the “Luddite fallacy” named after the 19th century British labor movement that destroyed factory machines because they believed such technology cost them their jobs. EconomicsHelp.com describes the “Luddite fallacy” as follows,
“The Luddite fallacy is the simple observation that new technology does not lead to higher overall unemployment in the economy. New technology doesn’t destroy jobs – it only changes the composition of jobs in the economy.”
Unfortunately, the fallacy is only a fallacy until it isn’t. The problem is that at some point, machines could possibly no longer aid humans by allowing us to become more productive, but instead become so advanced that humans become entirely irrelevant. If humans can’t add value to the production process (or sales process for that matter), what exactly should people do? How would such an economy even operate?
Policy makers and leaders of industry must seriously consider the potential consequences of such technology before, and not after, any major disruptions take place. The show would have benefited greatly from focusing solely on 3D printing and discussing its history, current application, future potential and the major political, economic and ethical concerns it raises.
I've just written one of my more important articles for BiggerPockets on the topic of productivity. A topic that I know many people are very interested in. In it, I discuss the top 10 tips for becoming more productive, which include:
1. Weekly Goals
3. Getting Things Done (David Allen's system)
4. Wake up Early
6. Lean Just Outside Your Comfort Zone
8. Speed Reading
9. Weekly Time Audit
10. Hold Yourself Accountable
Along with two bonus techniques:
11. Cut Out the Clutter (embrace minimalism)
I think it's one of my most important articles, so if becoming more productive is something you're interested in, please check it out!
So a while back I posted my interview with BiggerPockets and now I'd like to share my father's interview where he talks about real estate niches and why it's so important to focus on one. The niche he started in and built his company around was student housing, which is also discussed in detail. Enjoy!
And, of course, you can check out my weekly(ish) column at BiggerPockets here.
Yeah, I get it. Donald Trump rubs a lot of people the wrong way, including me sometimes. But what's happening in Singapore with a chance at peace and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is momentous to say the least. Trump, for his part, seems optimistic:
Yet some in #TheResistance seem to be less enthused...
OK, The Palmer Report is just barely above Louise Mensch levels of idiocy. But even the Democrats themselves aren't being very pragmatic in what might be a subconscious hope Trump fails. As Nicholas Kristof notes,
"The letter also insisted on “anywhere, anytime” inspections of suspected North Korean nuclear sites, as well as those linked to its chemical and biological warfare programs.
"It’s almost unimaginable that North Korea will allow such intrusive inspections — any country would resist having an enemy poke around its military bases, underground bomb shelters and border fortifications. So these Democrats are essentially saying that no plausible deal will pass muster."
Let's hope for cooler heads (including Trump's... and Dennis Rodman's of course (what timeline is this???)) to rule the day. Take a break #TheResistance.
While I believe the problems global warming will cause are likely overstated (what activist group doesn't overstate the problems they're advocating to eliminate?), I do believe it's real and a major problem. That being said, I had no issue with Trump taking the United States out of the Paris Accords. The Accords seem to be a bit of a farce as the United States promised to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions whereas China promised to do what they had already projected they would and Pakistan promised to, and I paraphrase, "try to reduce emissions or something like or whatever." John Stossel has a good take on the Paris Accords that sums up my thoughts on the matter:
Indeed, even if every signatory fulfilled their non-binding promises, it would hold back the projected effects of global warming by four years, over the next 100! Trying to cut emissions with existing technology is a fools errand and will drastically hurt the developing world which desperately needs cheap sources of energy.
The answer, other than dealing with the consequences by investing in dykes and levies, is technology.
On that front, Nature just published an article about "sucking carbon dioxide from the air." And the price of such technology is falling by leaps and bounds,
The study, in Joule, was written by researchers at Carbon Engineering in Calgary, Canada, which has been operating a pilot CO2-extraction plant in British Columbia since 2015. That plant -- based on a concept called direct air capture — provided the basis for the economic analysis, which includes cost estimates from commercial vendors of all of the major components. Depending on a variety of design options and economic assumptions, the cost of pulling a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere ranges between US$94 and $232. The last comprehensive analysis of the technology, conducted by the American Physical Society in 2011, estimated that it would cost $600 per tonne.
This is the direction we need to go. Maybe have a "Paris Technology Conference." On other fronts, while solar technology is inefficient and requires government subsidies right now to compete, the technology is improving and could one day become a cost-effective renewable energy source. I just read an article about using the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean, of which "The energy potential is staggering. In the Gigawatt range per vent." Of course you would have to find a way to protect the fragile ecosystems that live around these vents, but I would think such a problem could be overcome.
In the end, science and technology will solve this problem, not artificial and growth-halting caps on emissions. Indeed, the problem could be solved almost overnight if the right technology is invented. Science, therefore, is what we should primarily put our resources into as far as the environment is concerned.
You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube, but in hindsight, social media probably shouldn't have been invented. Hell, even Chamath Palihapitiya, the former head of growth at Facebook, admitted "we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works." The founder of Napster and onetime president of Facebook, Sean Parker, has also expressed similar fears.
This is not to say that social media has no advantages. For one, people used Twitter and Facebook during the hurricanes in Houston and Florida to alert rescue workers of their location. Hell, social media makes it a lot harder for the establishment to maintain gatekeepers. At the same time, people are also finding their way into extremist movements more and more often.
Social media is likely raising our stress, causing a fear of missing out and leading to new and exotic forms of online harassment. There's also the problem that these tech companies, who wield enormous power, are becoming more and more politicized. But perhaps even more worryingly, social media is driving people further and further into the extremes. It's not as fun to hear the other side's argument. Instead, the comfortable place is to sit in your echo chamber. And the only place to go in an echo chamber is more extreme.
Indeed, CGP Grey made a great video about this where he talks about how the Internet, and social media in particular, is making us angry. But it's not so much angry at the other side. It's discussions with our own side about how angry the other side makes us. We are hearing what the other side thinks through little more than critique:
And the research on this matter seems to confirm the theory. As one study notes "Social Networks Spread Anger much More Effectively Than They Spread Joy or Sadness."
I have no society-wide answer for this. But personally, I would highly recommend to take a break from social media. Use it sparingly, if at all. And get out in the real world and spend time with real people, not whatever Avatar they use in cyberspace.
I have had several occasions in my business where I have waited too long to let go of an employee that I really needed to let go of. One time, we had a construction manager who was actually taking kick backs, and while we didn't know that at the time, we did know that he was effectively accomplishing nothing. Yet even after coming to this realization, it took us another four months or so to finally pull the trigger.
We also had a property manager who was emotionally exhausting and insubordinate. She would start projects without permission, do them in ways we told her not to, hire her son-in-law to do jobs at inflated values, rent to people with a subpar background check, etc. She would also be border line abusive to various other employees. And despite numerous meetings with her about these problems, we kept hanging on for many more months than we should have.
One of the problems is that both of these people held key positions. There are other cases like these that we have lived through that were easier to move on from, but we still often waited too long. But when it's a key position, it feels daunting to move on from them even if they aren't any good at their job. Who will fill the void?
But you almost always wait too long. I've never heard an employer say they fired someone they wish they hadn't. It's always that they "waited too long."
This concept applies throughout your life. Recently, I ended things with my long time girlfriend. It was tough because I didn't want to stop seeing her, I very much care about her and think she's a great person. But at the same time, the conclusion had finally dawned on me that it wasn't what I wanted long term. And we had been together too long for it to simply be casual.
Unfortunately, despite figuring this out, it took me a few months to finally tell her. It's tough to do such things especially when you don't really want your relationship to end. But the combination of me not wanting to hold back while we were together and me hesitating to tell her after I knew, caused it to drag out and ended up hurting her worse than was necessary. The thought of hurting her in the first place was awful to me, and while I wasn't exactly sure where she was at (I thought that maybe she had come to the same conclusion as me), it was easier to delay inflicting that hurt on someone I cared about, which made it even more tempting to delay. But in the end, that's the coward's route.
Sometimes, you don't know what you think or feel. But often times, that clarifies. Maybe you don't want it to be true, but when you know, you know. It's best to act on it quickly even if it's hard to do. In the end, such delays only hurt yourself and others, often those you care a lot about.
From my experience, it is extremely common for new entrepreneurs to have absolutely horrendous books. I'm in the real estate industry and many of the apartments I look at to buy from "ma and pa" investors have accounting that could more accurately be called chicken scratch.
Handwritten accounts, Word docs with a list of expenses, poorly organized Excel documents, oh my!
This isn't surprising to me. Accountants are stereotyped as boring, by-the-book people. Entrepreneurs are stereotyped as salesmanish, go-getting hustlers. It's not fair and by no means universally true. But there is some truth to it. Entrepreneurs rarely seem to have the knack for bookkeeping.
But aside from the obvious fact that you can't effectively manage what you can't or don't measure, accounting underlies all of the major needs of a new or small business. Yes, if don't have good books, you may overspend or misforecast your earnings. This could be disastrous and certainly happens. But even beyond that, who is going to give you financing if they can't make heads or tails of your books?
We refinance houses and apartments all the time, and I can tell you from experience, a confused mind says no. We prioritize our books and try to present them in the most understandable way. Because the better a lender can get their mind around where we're at, the more likely they will say yes.
This also goes for selling. A buyer will be willing to pay more if they believe the numbers on your operating statement are a full and accurate representation. While other businesses might not require as much financing or sell large capital goods, every business does some of these things.
But finally, your books project a lot about you. If you have disorganized, messy books, that will come off as you yourself and your business are disorganized and messy. This will be true for lenders, buyers, potential partners or venture capital firms and even potential employees.
Accounting is boring (at least for me), but it must be made a priority for any entrepreneur. At the very least, work to get down the basics. There are plenty of online courses, books and the like. And if need be, outsource the more complicated parts to a competent CPA. But don't make the mistake so many real estate investors and entrepreneurs have made before you and neglect this critical part of your business.
So now they've come for Morgan Freeman.
While I was certainly glad to see the likes of Harvey Weinstein, James Toback and Kevin Spacey go down, #MeToo seems to be losing the plot. While this is only one of Morgan Freeman's accusers, this is obviously the biggest nothingburger that anyone has ever accused anyone else of in the history of sexual harassment.
And then there's this, though I can't say for certain it's true. Regardless, this isn't even a slightly out-of-line. Freeman is obviously talking about "being there" to see Michael Caine humiliate himself.
While sexual harassment is a serious issue, the media continues to portray it as a simple one of terrible men preying upon helpless women. It's nothing of the kind. For one, sexual harassment isn't completely one sided. As I noted before,
"...an AAUW study in 2006 found that 62 percent of women in college and 61 percent of men had 'experienced sexual harassment.' While “both male and female students are more likely to be harassed by a man than by a woman,” the difference isn’t as large as many would think. According to the study, 'Half of male students and almost one-third of female students admit that they sexually harassed someone in college.'"
Furthermore, sometimes with these sorts of things, there are false accusations such as at Duke and the University of Virginia. But I think the biggest problem is that small infractions that deserve reprimands, or mid-sized infractions that deserve punishment can get blown out be something worse and worse than it was in the first place. This doesn't just happen by malice, but can simply be because our minds start to remember things in a more extreme way, especially if we fixate on them. Once you've chosen a side, confirmation bias can set in. And with the whole #MeToo thing going on, confirmation bias is becoming societal-wide.
Indeed, one article on the whole Aziz Ansari debacle claimed "The world is disturbingly comfortable with the fact that women sometimes leave a sexual encounter in tears." I should note the woman, who published her accusation anonymously, claimed Ansari didn't coerce her in anyways but was just overly pushy and she left crying.
Of course, almost every guy I know has had a terrible sexual experiences, often with pushy women. Should we publicly humiliate them?
Regardless, we shouldn't get carried away with the backlash. Getting rid of the abusers is very important. My opinion on #MeToo is very ambivalent right now. But it seems to be heading in the wrong direction at a very fast pace.
"Every day is a new life to the wise man."
The Righteous Mind
Star Slate Codex
Consulting by RPM