Six Links: Pirates, Moats, Capitalism

Hopefully this edition of Six Links will help you find yet more intriguing content to help you finish January strong. Here goes: The Hijacking of the Brillante Virtuouso by Kit Chellel & Matthew Campbell: Anytime a commercial vessel is lost, the incident is recorded with a quill pen in a leatherbound book at Lloyd’s, a London…

Six Links: Knowledge, Data, Abuse

Here’s the second installment of Six Links! I’ve been neglecting Thought Distiller far too much lately; consulting, unknown to most, is in fact a seasonal business that is light in the summer and heavy in the winter. So with a lot of work in the pipeline for this holiday season, I thought I’d at least carve…

Six Links: Contracts, Options, Brevity

I’ve decided to try a new format of blog post today; I wanted to share some of the more interesting things I’ve been reading, emphasizing those that I believe other people are not likely to be reading. In some sense, I’m trying to curate signal in the midst of all of the overwhelming noise in…

Our Failed Age of Exploration

I’ve been reading Jon Gertner’s The Idea Factory lately; it documents the history of Bell Labs, an R&D facility shared by AT&T and Western Electric that was directly or indirectly responsible for a number of innovations in telecom. Bell Labs researchers created transistors, signal extenders, and Unix, among other things. They developed the foundations of…

On Active Listening and Mental Fatigue

I’ve recently become interested in active listening due to some internal projects on the subject at work. People, especially today, mainly engage in passive listening. We hear the other person’s words but not their message. Mainly, we’re simply waiting for our turn to speak without even weighing the other person’s arguments, opinions, and points. This makes…

Gaslighting, Conformity, and Lies

The phrase “gaslighting” has come up more and more often after Donald Trump’s election and inauguration. But where does that term come from? What does it really mean? And how does it work in our daily lives? The term “gaslighting” traces its origin to a 1944 film starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, aptly titled Gaslight.…

Decisiveness with Low Information

In virtually every area of human life, we lack some of the necessary information to make decisions. But somehow, we are still able to function; we can make decisions without spending inordinate amounts of time on them. How is that possible? Low information rationality is a social theory, first proposed by political scientist Samuel Popkin,…

Context — not Content — is King

Context is defined as “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.” Without context, none of human knowledge would make sense. Context provides the necessary background from which we can connect dots and draw novel conclusions; a lack of…

Fortune Telling and the Forer Effect

Last night, I watched the film Now You See Me 2. The character Merritt McKinney, played by Woody Harrelson, is a hypnotist and mentalist. Notably, McKinney is able to “read” people in order to effectively use the power of suggestion on them. Such effects are clearly dramatized in the film series, but I began to wonder why…

Speed-reading Nonfiction Books

If I could have any superpower at all, I would want to be able to read at superhuman speeds and have perfect recall of everything I read. At first glance, that seems like a stupid power to have; however, in the film Limitless, Bradley Cooper’s character uses those very abilities to become a successful author, financial…