Daniel Klein is a professor of economics at George Mason University and an Associate Fellow of the Swedish Ratio Institute. Much of his research examines public policy questions, libertarian political philosophy, and the sociology of academia. He is the chief editor of Econ Journal Watch.
When did Daniel first embrace the idea “liberty”? He was dissatisfied with the school system for most of his childhood. A friend asked him “Have you ever thought about why school sucks?” His friend explained that students don’t get to choose where they go to school, there is no private ownership, schools don’t have choice in curriculum etc. He quickly saw the system as a socialist operation and suddenly “Why school sucked” all made sense to him. This gave way to him falling into a free economic market, libertarian, and Austrian Economics way of thinking.
Into college he gradually discovered Adam Smith, David Hume, and other 18th century thinkers. Through research he saw that the word “liberal” was not used in a political sense until about the time of Adam Smith. People had thought of ideas associated with liberalism but when Smith came out with “The Wealth of Nations,” he finally put a name to this way of thinking. Regardless of whether people agreed with his politics or not, his ideas spread throughout the world.
To really understand the arc of liberalism throughout the years it is important to learn what happened in the past and see the progression. Today, terms such as “The left”, “Dem”, and “Progressive” are all terms that have been adopted by others to accept liberalism.
Agustín Fuentes is a primatologist and biological anthropologist focusing largely on human and non-human primate interaction, pathogen transfer, communication, cooperation, and human social evolution. His most recent book is “The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional.”
How did Agustín begin studying anthropology? From an early age he loved trying to figure out what made people tick. By studying other primates and what human ancestors did, he came to find that we are creative and imaginative in ways people didn’t think we had the capacity for.
Agustín found that through innovation, collaboration and creativity learning happens. What are some examples of innovation from our ancestors? Fire is one of the most basic, yet amazing discoveries of our ancestors. No species on the planet, besides humans, use fire. Use of fire gave humans the opportunity to change the composition of materials to mold utility items, change food composition, and provide the opportunity to break the day and night cycle.
Collaboration can be seen in instances of warfare. Are we inherently violent? Yes. Humans have the capacity for intense violence. However, when studying warfare, it is all about collaboration and putting your life on the line for the greater good of the army – not about who has the most violent army. Collaboration is the bottom line in when it comes to winning a war.
Once people were able to convey information with language, huge advancements were able to happen in creativity. In the last 100,000 years or so art happened, and humans were able to convey imagination. Speech and hearing coincided with art and showcased our capacity for creativity. Michael and Agustín finish the podcast talking diversity. Throughout the ages, diversity has been the norm for humans. When you get outside of your bubble, and explore the world a little, you see first hand the immense differences in advancements and innovation throughout cultures.
Frank Conway is host of the Economic Rockstar podcast. Michael made a recent appearance on Frank’s show and shares it today on his podcast:
Shane Snow is author of “Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart” and the bestseller, “Smartcuts.” Shane is also an award-winning journalist, celebrated entrepreneur, and co-founder of Contently.
When thinking about great teams we often think of just the best players. Shane uses the success of the Soviet Union’s 1980’s hockey team as an example and sheds light on what made them so uniquely successful. It was not the individuals that defined the success of the team, it was the collective team as a whole. Their team wasn’t about having a guy that could score a lot of points. Each player was dedicated to doing whatever they needed to do to get the hockey puck in the goal.
That 1980’s Soviet hockey team also fostered a diverse set of minds. Historically we reduce classifications to what we can see. Having a diverse team doesn’t just mean having people of a different race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. If you want a group to be smarter than its smartest member, you need a team of people who all think differently. This is where cognitive diversity is important – the best ideas often come from a round-table of minds debating. However, it can be easy to go too far when building a diverse team and end up with a group of people trying to destroy each other rather than cultivating innovative ideas.
What is the leading cause of failure in business and relationships? Communication. Combining various perspectives from people are what often adds up to one great new innovation. Looking at new angles is the only way to break new ground. Unfortunately, a lot of what we think is crazy gets shut out. Those crazy ideas are what need to be heard the most.
Matthew Walker is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. His new book is “Why We Sleep.” Matthew’s mission is to reunite humanity with sleep.
How did Matthew begin studying sleep? He learned insufficient sleep is linked to ALL of the top killers in civilized countries. The average adult only sleeps 6 hours and 31 minutes. The disease and suffering that is present because of lack of sleep has become his motivator to instill change. So how much sleep do we need? If you are not getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep a day, you are not acting at optimal performance. Most who think they can operate at full capacity with 6 hours of sleep have become numb to the state they live in. They have forgotten, or perhaps have never known, what their optimal performance looks and feels like.
Insufficient sleep is shown to lead to disease, cancer, mutating your DNA, and Alzheimer’s. Not only does lack of sleep hurt you in the long-term, it also has many short-term effects as well. When you are sleep deprived your brain is 40% less able to retain information. Some have legitimate sleep disorders, however 90-95% of people can change their sleep habits.
How can we help change our quality of sleep? Turn off the technology at night. Lights from the T.V., iPad, phone, etc. sends all the wrong signals to your brain. Melatonin does not get released at the time it should get released. Any kind of light is problematic within the last hour or so of when you should be getting ready for bed. Light, sleep procrastination and anticipatory anxiety are the three biggest problems related to too much technology before bed.
Aiding sleep with drugs or alcohol is a common misnomer. When you sleep with the aid of alcohol or sleeping pills they inhibit your ability to hit your REM cycle. The same is true for marijuana. These are methods of sedation, not actual sleep. Studies show that sleeping pills are associated with death and cancer. More specifically, you are 3-4 times more likely to die across a 2 ½ year period when taking sleeping pills, than those who do not taking sleeping pills. Michael and Matthew end the conversation breaking apart start times of schools and how crucial starting an hour or two later is to a student and their quality of learning.
Philip Maymin is an Associate Professor of Analytics and Finance at the University of Bridgeport Trefz School of Business. He is the managing editor of Algorithmic Finance and the co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Sports Analytics. He has been an analytics consultant with several NBA teams and is the Chief Analytics Officer for Vantage Sports.
Philip brings the perspective of “Moneyball” to basketball. The Celtics, for example, have done a great job of putting players in positions that play to their strengths. They do this by analyzing the data of their players better than most other teams. High frequency data is in sports now, not just in trading. There are cameras in every professional basketball arena that produce play by play data showing summary statistics that coaching staff and in some instances, the public, can see.
Teams are producing models for how each player moves in combination with the other players on the court. The two most basic questions you ask of a player is “What does he do really well?” And “What does he do often?” Sometimes what players do often, doesn’t correlate to what they do well. Philip also discusses outlier players like Marcus Smart. He doesn’t have amazing scoring stats, blocking stats or anything else particularly extraordinary, yet when he is on the court, his team has a dramatically higher chance of winning.
How could we start going down the path of using data to create and put a team together? The myth is that GM’s are brilliant and have foresight on who to draft. If that were the case wouldn’t they be making dramatically more money? Also, how are they making decisions? GM’s mostly rely on their gut. Philip believes that EVERYTHING should be put in a system. If you take scouts opinions, analytics, GM’s opinions, etc. and put it all in a soup then you are just trading off your gut. You have essentially de-systematized the system.
Trend following has more in common with Jeff Bezos, blackjack or horseracing than Elliot Wave or Gann. Michael uses a dating example to show the edge gained in dating when approaching total strangers and the correlation to trading random markets. If you play the system right and stick with it, odds are, you will come out on top. Is this the way to play the game? It doesn’t sound romantic, but the playing field is messy whether it be in seduction, black jack or venture capital – you have to play it different.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Roy Baumeister is a social psychologist known for his work on the self, social rejection, belongingness, sexuality, sex differences, self-control, self-esteem, self-defeating behaviors, motivation, aggression, consciousness, and free will. Roy has also authored over 20 books throughout his career. He likes to start his research with the premise that he doesn’t know the right answer–trying to have an open mind and clean slate.
Roy started his career studying the idea of self-control. He looked at some of the major crutches people deal with–dieting, quitting smoking, controlling emotions. Roy found that everyone has a limited amount of energy and using that energy toward will power had a limited source of regulation. When people used their energy toward gaining self control in one area, they lost it in another. One way Roy found to boost energy and restore self control in patients was to give a patient glucose. It seemed to restore self-control in the patient, giving them a boost of energy.
Roy also has studied differences in people with high self-esteem as opposed to those with lower self-esteem. Improving self esteem didn’t seem to help make life better or lead to later success but improving self control did. Working on self control was shown to be more important for success than IQ or self esteem. Asian countries, for example, have much more discipline built into their culture than American culture. Roy’s studies have shown that Asians therefore require a lower IQ to be successful because their self control overpowers other inhibitors.
Michael and Roy finish their conversation talking sex. Is it more nature or nurture? Roy has found that female sexuality is more cultural and male sexuality is more nature. Do sex norms change based on female to male ratios? Yes. When you look at populations where there is an un-equal amount of men to women and visa versa the desire for one sex to acquire the attention of the other sex is shifted. Standards are lowered/heightened. Michael includes a 30 minute bonus presentation from Roy expanding on the topics discussed on today’s podcast.