HumanKind, Keep It Simple, Longevity

October 8, 2020

“People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.”

- Sir Edmund Hillary

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”

- Henry Ford

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”

- Carl Sandburg


This email is free, but takes me a few hours to put together each week. If you could share it with a few people, I’d really appreciate it.

A. HUMANKIND

I’m half way through Rutger Bregman’s Humankind.

The book takes our current Hobbes, Machiavelli, Freud, Dawkins defined world of self-interest and selfishness and turns it on it’s head. It’s like reading the child of Rosling’s: Factfulness, Hariri’s: Sapiens and Grant’s: Give and Take.

The book makes the argument that people are good. Our instinct is to cooperate rather than compete, to trust rather than distrust, and that there is in fact an evolutionary bias for this.

The book dissects wars & politics and dives into oft-quoted research that is used outline how selfish humans are such as: The Stanford Prison experiment, Stanley Milgram’s work and even Kitty Genovese’s murder in New York, and debunks each of them by looking deeper and revealing what really happened.

One of ideas the book starts with is why are humans so susceptible to doom and gloom of the news? Two reasons. First is negativity bias: we are more attuned to the bad than the good. Evolutionary it was better to run, then wait to see what the noise was behind the bush. Second, we’re burdened with availability bias. If we can easily recall examples of a given thing, we assume that thing is relatively common. The fact that we are bombarded daily with horrific stories, which tend to lodge in the memory, completely skews our view of the world.

As Nassim Taleb notes: “We are not rational enough to be exposed to the press”

It finishes with Ten Rules To Live By:

I. When in doubt, assume the best

II. Think in win-win scenarios

III. Ask more questions

IV. Temper your empathy, train your compassion

V. Try to understand the other, even if you don’t get where they’re coming from

VI. Love your own as others love their own

VII. Avoid the news

VIII. Don’t punch Nazis

IX. Come out of the closet: don’t be ashamed to do good

X: Be realistic

If you like this idea, but don’t want to read a 496 page book, then you can start with Economist review or this great podcast.


B. KEEP IT SIMPLE

I’m sure, that you are inundated with economic and financial news, and most of the time that news is bad. Heck bad news sells….

Having spent twenty years in finance and seen a few cycles, three things I’ve learnt is the importance of playing the long game, keeping investments simple and managing your emotions and hence behaviour.

I found the pictogram below helpful and timeless for accumulating long term wealth.


C. A Few Things Worth Checking Out:

1. Thanks to Evelyne @ Singularity Group, I watched the Longevity Investors Conference.

They had all the longevity greats including: David Sinclair, Aubrey de Grey, Nir Barzilai, Jim Mellon, Andrew Scott. A lot of great panels on the latest in the research and how to invest into longevity.

2. “When faced with a major paradigm shift, analysts who know the most about a subject have the most to unlearn." - Richards Heuer, Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, the CIA’s +200 page bible on how to analyse intelligence.

3. Bill Gates at WSJ CEO Council Summit (video, starting at the 4:39 mark).

4. AWESOME paper in the Atlantic. Dispersion of COVID19 is overlooked. Backward tracking more important than forward. Use cheap rapid unreliable tests to identify super spreaders. Simple. Genius. Read this instead of arguing about when to wear a mask!

5. Last week I had shared a Koyfin interview with Beeneet Kothari of Tekne Capital, which was great, and I went back and watched another one he did with Chris Alexander (ex-GS) on what he learned from Druckenmiller and developing his own framework for investing into technology.

6. My friend Harry Stebbings did a great podcast with Palmer Luckey (founded and sold Oculus VR to Facebook for $2.3bn) on how he wants to transform the defence capabilities of the United States and what the Defence department can learn from China. Disclaimer: I’m in an LP in Harry & Fred’s fund - Stride.

7. Invest Like the Best Podcast: Jesse Livermore. This episode seeks to answer the simple question: against a horrible economic backdrop, how can the stock market be near all-time highs? Jesse explains in detail the impact that fiscal policy has had on the market and may have in the future.

8. Joan Mannick, M.D. & Nir Barzilai, M.D were on the Peter Attia podcast discussing Rapamycin and Metformin. It’s a fascinating discussion, both on strategies to extend your life, and more currently the interaction between drugs like Rapamycin and Metformin and their ability to enhance your immune system.

9. Common Causes of Very Bad Decisions - by Morgan Housel. I think I have done all of these.


“I feel that we of this generation give too much time to news about the transient present, too little to the living past. We are choked with news, and starved of history. We know a thousand items about the day or yesterday, we learn the events and troubles and heartbreaks of a hundred peoples, the policies and pretensions of a dozen capitals, the victories and defeats of causes, armies, athletic teams.

But how, without history, can we understand these events, discriminate their significance, sift out the large from the small, see the basic currents underlying surface movements and changes, and foresee the result sufficiently to guard against fatal error or the souring of unreasonable hopes?”

- Will Durant (November 18, 1945)