July 11th, 2015

I finished reading Scott Adams’ How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big recently and, as is my system, I put my notes from the book into my Electronic Chapbook. Normally I start at the beginning and proceed in due course to the end. I’m not doing that this time. Instead I’ve jumped ever so slightly ahead to what I think of as Adams’ Big Idea: that which is consistent across at least two filter axes is true.

When it comes to any big or complicated question, humility is the only sensible point of view. Still, we mortals need to navigate our world as if we understood it. The alternative—acting randomly—would be absurd. To minimize the feeling of absurdity in your life, I recommend using a specific system for sorting truth from fiction. This system will be useful for reading this book, and it could be even more important in your life. The system recognizes that there are at least six common ways to sort truth from fiction, and interestingly, each is a complete train wreck.

  • Personal experience (human perceptions are iffy).
  • Experience of people you know (even more unreliable).
  • Experts (they work for money, not truth).
  • Scientific studies (correlation is not causation).
  • Common sense (a good way to be mistaken with complete confidence).
  • Patter recognition (patterns, coincidence and personal bias look alike).
  • In our messy, flawed lives, the nearest we can get to truth is consistency. Consistency is the bedrock of the scientific method. Scientists creep up on the truth by performing controlled experiments and attempting to observe consistent results. In your everyday, non-scientist life you do the same thing, but it’s not as impressive, nor as reliable. For example, if every time you eat popcorn, one hour later you fart so hard that it inflates your socks, you can reasonably assume popcorn makes you gassy. It’s not science, but it’s still an entirely useful pattern. Consistency is the best marker of truth that we have, imperfect though it may be. p. 4

    From How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big by Scott Adams


    Found in my electronic chapbook.

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