Aug 30, 2022Liked by Rohit Krishnan

Very related: "Fooled by Randomness" from Taleb

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Judea Pearl's comment about "floundering on the shores of confounding variables" comes to mind. Given that we measure four million economic variables and there have been 10 recessions in the last 10 decades (just saying) then something will correlate. Same shit happens in medical research.

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Aug 24, 2022·edited Aug 24, 2022Liked by Rohit Krishnan

As I understood it, Crick and Watson got their great idea after they got access to pictures taken from Rosalind Franklin's drawer (without her consent).

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I think the piece you're missing here comes from a wider issue of being contaminated by the idea that sociology, psychology, epidemiology, economics and such can be treated as a "science" and their methods of discovery boils down to finding small correlations.

At the end of the day, most discoveries you list are counted as such because:

Archimedes -- works experimentally to model most liquids and solids available to ancient people, and to this day

Kekule -- we literally "saw" the thing https://www.extremetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/molecule-imaged-for-the-first-time-640x353.jpg -- and it lead to a bunch of otherwise impossibly complex organic chemistry reactions being discovered

Francis Crick -- also we literally "saw" this and it lead to a lot of discoveries in gene editing and-oh-turns out the double helix thing doesn't matter as much anyway, many other structural characteristics are just as important

Newton -- Also explained patterns in planet movements and made experimental predictions... but also, was very wrong

Generally speaking scientific theories:

1. Offer new ways to look at the world

2. Are validated by humanity broadly by the fact that in decades they result in huge material changes to the world -- not because of politics, but because of inventions stemming from the usage of the theory


Indeed, the barrier of entry for a scientific theory is not that high <insert long rant about Khun, Deutsch, etc>. The difference is that theories only "stick" once they lead to gigantic discoveries that can't be falsified.

An example of such in economics would be fairly niche, e.g (10 years ago) YC companies are x00 times as likely to become unicrons as other US tech startups. Or nonexistant, e.g. "setting interest rates at precisely 2.45% will lead to a 50% year to year GDP increase"

In so far as economy has good theories they are things like:

- wars are bad for the economy

- high taxes are bad for the economy

and such, which are fairly boring

The more powerful theories waste away quickly due to markets adapting, but I'd assume most billionares rode there through now-invalid theories about economics and psychology, even if they wouldn't call them such.

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Aug 25, 2022Liked by Rohit Krishnan

Statistically, given the number of financial prognosticators (or any kind of prognosticator) alive today, it is highly probable that at least one of them will be very accurate in prognostication (by whatever means they use to prognosticate) for each of the, say, next 10 years. Following their advice will make one very wealthy. The problem is identifying THAT one, NOW. In reality the great prognosticators are identified by looking back, and, as the prospectuses all say, past performance is no indicator of furure performance.

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Aug 25, 2022·edited Aug 25, 2022Liked by Rohit Krishnan

1) Peter Watts explores this idea in his novel Echopraxia, of a group of supreme scientists who have amplified their pattern finding skills at the cost of unavoidable devout religiosity (like Blindsight, Echopraxia is a short book bursting at the seams with interesting ideas)

2) I work in finance, it's been almost a decade, and I'm deep in the 'epistemic nihilism' hole. This is despite (because of?) it going very well! This is anonymous, so I can be frank: I've made consistently correct calls. But instead of filling me with confidence it's filled me with suspicion; the more I learn the more I'm suspicious that good calls can even be made in principle with the level of information and time I had.

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This might be useful in understanding the financial world, borrowed from the sociological and genomic world. https://www.gwern.net/Everything

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Aug 24, 2022Liked by Rohit Krishnan

Worse, look at the entire discipline of econometrics, dedicated to untangle causality from correlations.....

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Animals also display pattern-seeking behavior, without the epiphanies, necessarily. My reining-bred mare seeks out patterns--she's the descendant of several generations of champion reiners, and it shows in her desire to follow particular patterns under saddle. It's one reason why horse trainers rarely rehearse an entire pattern.

But it also carries over to other parts of her life.

Dogs exhibit similar behavior and probably cats as well.

So it's something hard-wired into a certain level of cognitive awareness, across species.

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Scott Summer says "never reason from a price change." Stock prices may fall becasue people start expecting a recession, but a fall in stock prices does not imply that people are expecting recession.

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