Breakfast Notes #57 (Beware The Experts)
Good morning friends.
Here is the 56th serving of the Breakfast Notes.
3 Reads To Bulk Your Brain
- The Engima that is SBF. Moving on from FTX to its founder and Chief Plundering Officer, SBF - historian, Niall Ferguson argues that the the rise and fall of Sam Bankman-Fried is a tale of the way we live now — tweeting, not reading. It raises an interesting question - what is the homo economicus of the 21st century really going to look like?
- Understanding Xi Jin Ping Thought. In a provocative and insightful lecture by John Garnaut, a former China policy advisor to the Australian government. He outlines his view that Xi is out to reinvigorate the ideology of Mao-Stalin and Lenin thereby reviving totalitarianism in China. Prescience or Exaggeration? You decide.
- Meta Myths. The idea that Meta is dying is alarmist. As Ben Thompson, the tech analyst argues in this piece, this past quarter’s results showed that ‘Meta, took a massive hit by choice; the company is not maximizing the short-term, it is spending the money and suppressing its revenue potential in favor of becoming more impenetrable than ever.’
2 Visualizations To Wow You
For a country as small as Singapore, it's pretty impressive to find out that we have the 9th largest pension fund in the world.
Back in the 1940s, where doctors prescribe cigarettes to give your throat a vacation.
1 Big Idea: Beware The Experts
We have a tendency to rely on experts to support the legitimacy of an argument.
This is a huge problem because experts, like all human capital, can be “purchased”
As a rule of thumb, we should consider the support of an authority figure as a feature—but not the main reason as to why we subscribe to a belief or idea.
Example in Action
The Surgeon General’s Report of 1964 through robust clinical research definitively linked smoking with cancer of the voice box (larynx), the otolaryngology departmental chairs of four major universities testified before Congress in opposition to the findings.
They were bought.
Back in the wild old days of the 1940s and 50s, tobacco companies regularly hosted “hospitality booths” at otolaryngology conventions from which they gave out free cigarettes, sometimes they even embossed the doctors’ names on the packs.
In major cities all over America, throat specialists were taken out to elegant dinners at which they were implored to “prescribe” their brand of cigarettes to patients with sore throats or coughs.
In 1949, the average physician’s annual income was $11,058.
If an otolaryngologist gave his stamp of approval, they would get $5000, half a year’s pay to okay smoking,
So next time, you hear an expert saying what you want to hear, dig a little deeper into the research and remember that there was a time where throat doctors recommended smoking.
May the sun shine upon your face,