Our income-dependent, wealth-acquiring lifestyles render us and our families more vulnerable to societal and environmental changes over which we have little control…

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Humans have always sought to reduce uncertainty. This innate drive to reduce risk motivated the earliest formations of clans, tribes, and other groups. Group mechanisms ensured a less volatile source of life’s necessities than that which atomized individuals and families could provide. The group provided greater physical security and helped their less fortunate members in times of crises.

People today continue their quest to achieve security and reduce uncertainty. We still engage in activities and rely on groups to help reduce the variability of income required to obtain life’s necessities and to protect acquired wealth. The group may be our employer, the government, or an insurance firm, but the concept is the same. Wealth itself has communal origins: many historians consider the first cultural manifestation of wealth to be the production of grains by incipient agrarian societies in amounts exceeding requirements of current consumption and the emergence of the stockpile.

In some ways, however, we are more vulnerable than our ancestors. The physical and economic security formerly provided by the tribe or extended family diminishes with industrialization. Our income-dependent, wealth-acquiring lifestyles render us and our families more vulnerable to societal and environmental changes over which we have little control. Contemporary individuals are in need of more formalized means to mitigate the adverse consequences of unemployment, loss of health, old age, death, lawsuits, and loss of wealth.”

Mankind has a habit of dividing itself in “us vs. them” tribes…

— Bill Bonner

Whether it was on a prehistoric African Savannah or in modern America, the instinct is the same. 

But who’s “us”? And who’s “them”?

It’s hard to say… and probably not worth trying.

The instinct that worked so well in the private space of a small tribe is a catastrophe in the large, public space. It cuts off trade. It leads to wars, persecutions, and genocides.”


If your dog had your brain and could speak, and if you asked it what it thought of your sex life, you might be surprised by its response. It would be something like this:

— From book ‘Why Is Sex Fun?: The Evolution of Human Sexuality’ by Jared Diamond

Those disgusting humans have sex any day of the month! Barbara proposes sex even when she knows perfectly well that she isn’t fertile—like just after her period. John is eager for sex all the time, without caring whether his efforts could result in a baby or not. But if you want to hear something really gross—Barbara and John kept on having sex while she was pregnant! That’s as bad as all the times when John’s parents come for a visit, and I can hear them too having sex, although John’s mother went through this thing they call menopause years ago. Now she can’t have babies anymore, but she still wants sex, and John’s father obliges her. What a waste of effort! Here’s the weirdest thing of all: Barbara and John, and John’s parents, close the bedroom door and have sex in private, instead of doing it in front of their friends like any self-respecting dog!”

Humans tend to think by analogy, which can create some cognitive trouble …

From Thirty Years: Reflections on the Ten Attributes of Great Investors

Humans tend to think by analogy, which can create some cognitive trouble. One issue is that a single analogy, or even a handful of analogies, may fail to reflect a full reference class of relevant cases. For example, rather than asking whether this turnaround is similar to a prior turnaround, it is useful to ask for the base rate of success for all turnarounds. Psychologists have shown that properly integrating the outcomes from an appropriate reference class improves the quality of forecasts.

Another challenge with using analogies is that we see similarities when we focus on similarities and see differences when we focus on differences. The emphasis of the comparison colors the outcome. For example, Amos Tversky, a psychologist known for his collaboration with Daniel Kahneman, asked subjects which pair of countries they deemed more similar, West Germany and East Germany or Nepal and Ceylon (the study was done in the early 1970s and Ceylon changed its name to Sri Lanka in 1972). Two-thirds of the subjects selected West Germany and East Germany.

Tversky then asked subjects which pair of countries they deemed more different. Logic suggests an answer that is the complement of the first response, hence two-thirds finding Nepal and Ceylon more different. But that’s not what Tversky found. Seventy percent of the subjects rated West Germany and East Germany more different than the other pair. What you are looking for dictates what you see.”