DUBNER: Let me throw at you then a question from a listener. This is someone named Patrick Kelly. He wanted me to ask you, “How would you translate the Billy Beane method for building a successful professional baseball club to an individual’s approach to life?”
LEWIS: I think the first takeaway in a very general way — from Moneyball for your life — is to ask why you’re doing things the way you’re doing things. And it’s intoxicating, once you start. Once you start saying, why do we have to steal a base when there’s nobody out and a runner on first? Or why isn’t anybody placing any value on a walk? Or why do we have to have a starting pitcher? Once you start asking these questions, you start to get answers that might surprise you. And then after that, it’s sort of like how do you start to evaluate the things you need to evaluate? And if there are ways to try to put numbers on things, to try to make probability judgments about things that you’ve just been not thinking about, you might get to a different answer.
It’s my birthday. I’m 68. I feel like pulling up a rocking chair and dispensing advice to the young ‘uns. Here are 68 pithy bits of unsolicited advice which I offer as my birthday present to all of you.
• Don’t be the best. Be the only.
• Everyone is shy. Other people are waiting for you to introduce yourself to them, they are waiting for you to send them an email, they are waiting for you to ask them on a date. Go ahead.
• If you are not falling down occasionally, you are just coasting.
Read the whole list: http://kk.org/
Freakonomics has an episode on the list: Freakonomics
Who doesn’t love a little wisdom once in a while? We all seek it out — in the people we know, or would like to know; in philosophy and science and religion; in adventure and travel and all sorts of mind-bending encounters. Most wisdom is presented in a manner befitting its ambition, with an important-sounding title and a package designed to impress. But sometimes the wisdom is just sitting there — on a website, with a title like, “68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice.” That’s what Kevin Kelly called the list he wrote on the occasion of his 68th birthday. And he published it on his website: kk.org.
YANG: Now, I studied economics. And according to my economics textbook, those displaced workers would get retrained, re-skilled, move for new opportunities, find higher-productivity work, the economy would grow. So everyone wins. The market, invisible hand has done its thing. So then I said, “Okay, what actually happened to these four-million manufacturing workers?” And it turns out that almost half of them left the workforce and never worked again. And then half of those that left the workforce then filed for disability, where there are now more Americans on disability than work in construction, over 20 percent of working-age adults in some parts of the country.
DUBNER: So the former manufacturing workers, a lot of them are on disability, a lot of them are also — especially if they’re younger men — they’re spending 25 to 40 hours a week playing video games.
YANG: Yeah so it did not say in my textbook, half of them will leave the workforce never to be heard from again. Half of them will file for disability and then another significant percentage will start drinking themselves to death, start committing suicide at record levels, get addicted to opiates to a point where now eight Americans die of opiates every hour. When you say, “Am I for automation and artificial intelligence and all these fantastic things?” of course I am. I mean, we might be able to do things like cure cancer or help manage climate change more effectively. But we also have to be real that it is going to displace millions of Americans.
People are not infinitely adaptable or resilient or eager to become software engineers, or whatever ridiculous solution is being proposed. And it’s already tearing our country apart by the numbers, where our life expectancy has declined for the last two years because of a surge in suicides and drug overdoses around the country. None of this was in my textbook. But if you look at it, that’s exactly what’s happening. The fantasists — and they are so lazy and it makes me so angry, because people who are otherwise educated are literally wave their hands and be like, “Industrial Revolution, 120 years ago. Been through it before,” and, man, if someone came into your office and pitched you in an investment in a company based on a fact pattern from 120 years ago, you’d freakin’ throw them out of your office so fast.
DUBNER: Right now, we’re talking in the year 2017. A lot of people now are convinced that the U.S. government and many others erred terribly in declaring fat to be the cause of obesity. Many people now believe, as you argue, that sugar is a much bigger villain. How do we know you’re not the guy that’s wrong this time, that you’re not just another — perhaps well-intentioned — big-brained do-gooder who is making a massive mistake?
LUSTIG: An awfully good question. This is known as the pessimistic meta-induction theory. What it says is, “Everything we knew 10 years ago is already wrong, and everything we know today will be wrong 10 years from now. Why should we do anything differently when we know that whatever it is that we believe today will end up being wrong?” If you play that game, then you might as well never do any research, never do anything at all, and live with the current dogma.
– FREAKONOMICS podcast – There’s a War on Sugar. Is It Justified?