Nontrivial is a podcast that looks to uncover deep patterns in life, discussing them at the intersection of science, complexity, and philosophy.
Snowballs, Free Speech and the Edge of Chaos
In this episode I talk about snowballs, more specifically, the runaway process that happens when we take an action we think is confined to that instance but ends up becoming something so much bigger. We're all familiar with this process, but I want to peel back its nature and expose its underlying mechanisms in order to truly understand how it works. In doing this, I believe we can better appreciate just how prevalent snowballing is in our lives and how we can use such knowledge to make better decisions. I'll be using the much-debated topic of "freedom of speech" as my example, and putting forward what I think is the best solution to this problem.
If You Want a Clean House, Invite People Over
In this episode I discuss how the only way to become good at anything is to start at the end, acting as though we already know how to do the thing. By placing ourselves directly into real-world environments related to the challenge, we are forced to rise to the occasion and inevitably learn the skill, achieve the objective, accomplish the goal. We are creatures of adaptation, and as such, the only way to truly become what we want to be is by adapting.
The Best Preparation is No Preparation
In this episode I discuss how the best preparation is no preparation. I will argue that despite its paradoxical nature there is deep truth to this idea, founded on how information accumulates over time. I will argue that the ongoing effort to solve problems in the moment leads to superior competence relative to that which we get from planning. I'll discuss how preparation creates brittle dependencies to things prearranged, and how entering moments authentically produces far greater skill and confidence than that which is possible through preparation.
If You Want to Learn, Ignore the Details
In this episode I discuss how detailed knowledge falls short, and how high-level thinking is a far superior way to make sense of the world and solve real problems. I'll discuss how the abstraction inherent in high-level thinking is what brings us into the environments where real problems exist, and how the only detailed knowledge worth having is that which comes after we've solved the problem. We'll look at how conceptual connections are made, and explore the underlying mechanism that brings meaning to situations. And finally, I'll argue that if you don’t recognize most things in a textbook the first time you touch it, it means you’re doing things backwards.
The Pattern is Not the Path
In this episode I argue that the patterns we notice and study in life cannot be used as the basis for improving things. The inspection of bird's wings does not lead to human flight, the admiration of a wise man's character traits cannot tell you how to achieve inner peace, and the government's preoccupation with desired outcomes cannot be used to direct funding, and other examples. It's likely going to challenge some deep-seated beliefs you have about how things work, but I'll be supporting my argument with known properties and mechanisms related to information, uncertainty, risk and complexity.
The Rich Don't Penny Pinch
In this episode I talk about penny-pinching, which I take to mean any kind of nit-picking or hyper-detailed behavior, that I argue leads to bad long-term outcomes. Penny-pinching is when we try to use all the information available to weigh pros and cons, and make some informed decision as how to best act. I will argue that while this might make us feel better in the moment, and sound smart to others, it's in fact more often than not, unintelligent because it doesn't take into account how things play out over the long run. I use the term "rich" in this episode to mean any kind of prosperity whether that's money, family, friends, contentment. What's important to understand here is that when I say the Rich Don't Penny Pinch, the non-penny-pinching behavior came before the person got rich. It's an approach to life that is high-level, approximate, and often looks "dumb" or "uninformed" in the moment, yet leads to truly successful outcomes.
All signal, no noise
One of the most refreshing podcasts I’ve listened to in the last few years.
Keep them coming
Liking the content. Gives me the language to what I see in life.
A wise mentor whispering in your ear...
spinning tales of curiousity, invention, spontaneity applied on top of that solid foindation of rigorous thought and study. This is how the magic happens.