Hanlon’s Razor for Sharper Thinking

You re-read the text, the two sentences you’ve written and rewritten, one more time.

You’ve only been on a few dates, but you just know. The laughs, the chemistry, the connection… it’s there. Your friends said to wait two days, but what do they know? She’ll be happy to hear from me!

You read the message again. Deep breath. You click send.

And the moment you do, you start to lose your shit.

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That’s My Story, And I’m Sticking to It: The Narrative Fallacy

There is no happier place on Earth than a winning craps table.1Disneyland? Sure, a place filled with screaming children, neverending lines, and $11 pizza slices sounds like heaven to me. GTFO.

Craps is a game in which a bunch of people crowd around a table, drink adult beverages, and bet on dice. If you’re not a gambler, or have never played, this may not sound like that much fun. You’re wrong. What makes craps a uniquely good time is simple – usually, everyone playing wins and loses together.2The standard approach to craps is to play the “Pass Line,” in which a player bets on specific numbers to be rolled before a 7. Someone could choose to bet that a 7 will come out first by playing the “Don’t Pass” line, but people who do that are also the kind of people who remind teachers to assign homework, eat hardboiled eggs on airplanes, and wear a sportcoat while watching football on Thanksgiving. These people suck, and should be avoided at all costs. A good roll means money for everyone, and a bad roll means universal sadness. When things are going well, the energy builds and builds until it spills over the edges of the table. Each winning roll is met with exuberant shouting, drinks clinking, fists pumping… the air is charged electricity. The vibe at a winning craps table is as close as Joe Everyman gets to a dogpile at midfield after winning the Super Bowl.  

So you can imagine how furious I get when someone saunters up to the table and ruins it.

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Moneyball and the Many Ways of Knowing

There is a scene in Moneyball, the 2011 film based on Michael Lewis’ novel, that captures a critical tipping point in how we understand the world around us.

Moneyball tells the story of Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics. Beane pushed aside decades of conventional baseball wisdom in favor of analytics, found a competitive edge, and turned his low-budget baseball team into a championship contender. Relying on data analysis to make decisions might sound commonplace today, but the scene below shows just how revolutionary Beane’s approach was:

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