December 29th, 2006


In which lies both amuse and enlighten.

And while my knowledge of the Economics of Capital Markets has faded in time, the lessons that stayed with me was my professor's real legacy:

* "Experts" can be wrong, and say things that sound right - so build a habit of evaluating new information and checksum it against things you already accept as fact.

* If you see something wrong, take the initiative to flag it as misinformation.

* A sense of playfulness is the best defense against taking yourself too seriously.

I've had many instructors before and since, but few that I remember with as much fondness - and why my favorite professor was a chronic liar.

Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told - and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness, but conformity. And the characteristic result is religious warfare. Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their 'beliefs.' The reason is that beliefs guide behavior, which has evolutionary importance among human beings. But at a time when our behavior may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion.

-Michael Crichton, The Lost World
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