The Great Philosophers: Elder wisdom, Thinkers, and Creators Since Antiquity

Some say there’s nothing new under the sun. Maybe we don’t need to go that far — but we should definitely appreciate the voluminous contributions of the ancient thinkers and great philosophers of antiquity, who figured out a dizzying array of complicated concepts long before the modern era.

We have much to learn from our ancestral teachers. Here’s a place to start — which shall grow over time as the knowledge is passed down yet again, age unto age. Things that stand the test of time are valuable, no matter what the currency of the day.

The Great Philosophers

NameKnown forBornDiedWhere livedInfluenced
St. Thomas AquinasSumma Theologiae12251274Italy
Anaxagoras
Hannah Arendt
Aristotle384 BC322 BCGreece
Marcus AureliusRoman emperor and Stoic philosopher who advocated for cultivating an ethos of impermanence and doing one's duty.121180Roman Empire
Avicenna9801037Persia
Francis Bacondeclaring that human intellect and reason are means of discovering the truth: "Knowledge is powerโ€œ15611626England
Roger BaconMost celebrated European scientist of the Middle Ages.12201292
Pierre Bourdieu
Jeremy Benthamfather of Utilitarianism17481832England
Daniel BernoulliSwiss mathematician widely credited for pioneering the field of statistics17001782Switzerland
Jacob Bernoulli
Jean Boudin15301596France
Louis Braille18091852France
Brunelleschi
Joseph Campbell
Andrew Carnegie18351919Scotland, America
Cicero
Marquis de CondorcetFrench philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist who played a key role in transforming European society from feudalism to modern secular democracy.17431794FranceThomas Jefferson
ConfuciusConfucianism -- a system of ethics and morals to guide "right" behavior551 BC479 BC
Marie Curie
Leonardo da Vinci14521519Italy
Charles Darwin1882England
Democritusbasic theory of the atom: a fundamental building block unit of all things that itself is not divisible (although later we would discover even smaller particles, the atom is still essentially the most basic building block)460 BC371 BCGreece
Renรฉ Descartescogito ergo sum: I think therefore I am15961650France
Alexis de Tocqueville
DiogenesThe most famous of the Cynics, a school of philosophy founded in Athens c. 400 BC, advocating the pursuit of happiness through avoiding the unnecessary temptations of material goodsGreeceZeno
Emilรฉ Durkheimanomie โ€” concept of lack of a shared moral order. Normlessness.
Albert Einstein
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Empedocles
Epicurus341 BC270 BCGreece
Erasmus14661536
Euclid
Michael Faraday17911867
Enrico Fermi
Foucault
Sigmund Freud18561939
John Kenneth GalbraithConcept of countervailing power โ€” that collective worker power is needed to balance against growing corporatism in the economy
Galen130200
Galileo
Siddharta GautamaThe Buddha; achieving enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in India563 BC483 BCIndia
Ghiberti
Johann GutenbergInvented the printing press, democratizing the dissemination of information for the first time.13941468
Jรผrgen Habermaspublic opinion / public sphere
Friedrich Hegel17701831Germany
Martin Heidigger18891976Germany
Heraclitusposited that change or flow is the most basic character of nature; that the world is characterized by opposites; and that God or "logos" is the essence of nature's constant flux and source of all things535 BC475 BCGreece
Herodotusfirst historian; first journalist; first foreign correspondent480 BC425 BC
Hippocrates
Thomas Hobbes15881679England
Homer
David Hume17111776Scotland
William James
Thomas Jefferson17431826America
Carl Jung18751961
Immanuel Kant17241804Prussia
John Maynard Keynes
Sรธren Kierkegaard
Thomas Kuhntheory of scientific paradigms and paradigm shifts
Lao Tzuthe Dao de Ching and philosophy of Daoism6th c. BC6th c. BCChina
Lamark17441829France
Gottfried Liebniz16461716Prussia
Vladimir Leninthe Russian Revolution of 1917 that overthrew the tsarist regime
Carolus Linnaeus17071778Sweden
John Lockephilosophy of liberty and natural rights16321704England
Martin Luther
James Madison
Karl Marx
John Stuart Mill18061873
MoziAn ethical philosophy advocating the caring for everyone equally470 BC391 BCChinaLegalism
Mohammad570632
Isaac Newtongravity and the laws of motion16421727
Friedrich Nietzsche18441900Germany
Alfred Nobel18331896
Georgia O'Keeffe
Thomas PaineBritain; America
Parmenidesearly Rationalist; believed our perceptions are an illusion shielding us from true reality, which is only discernable via human reason515 BC445 BCGreecePlato
Louis Pasteur18221895France
Petrarch13041374
Philo of Alexandria
PlatoPlatonic Forms427 BC347 BCGreeceAristotle
Pliny2379
Marco Polo
Neil Postman
ProtagorasRelativism490 BC420 BCGreece
PythagorasThe Pythagorean theorem570 BC495 BCGreeceParmenides
Rabelais14831553France
John Rawls
Jean-Jacques Rousseau17121778France
Jean-Paul Sartre19051980France
Arthur Schopenhauer17881860Poland
Joseph Schumpeter
SenecaRhetoric teacher and Stoic philosopher55 BC37 ADRoman Empire
Adam Smith
SocratesWidely considered a founder of philosophy; the dialectic method, among much else469 BC399 BCGreecePlato
Spinoza
Nicholas Nassim Taleb
Thalesposited water as being the basic material of the cosmos624 BC546 BCMiletus, Greece
Theocritus
Thucydides460 BC400 BCGreece
Edward Tufte
Virgil
Vitruvius
Voltaire16941778France
James Watson
Max Weber
Ludwig Wittgenstein18891951Austria
ZenoFounder of the Stoic school of philosophy in 4th c. BCE Greece and Parmenides's most famous student.Greece

Neoliberalism Explained: Why it must be dismantled

Neoliberalism is the dominant economic orthodoxy in the modern era. It is both a political and a financial ideology, with the following extremist beliefs:

  • Antigovernment sentiment — Their pitch is that all governments, including democratic ones, threaten individual liberty and must be stopped (or “drowned in the bathtub,” in the words of anti-tax zealots and movement conservatives).
  • Free markets should conquer governments — They claim, absurdly, that the toppling of self-governance would improve both economies and individual liberties.
  • The victory of markets is inevitable and there is nothing you can do about it — The fall of the Soviet Union was deemed the “end of history” by neoliberals, who believed that laissez-faire free market capitalism would inevitably triumph over all other forms of economic and political systems.
  • Economies work best when governments don’t intervene — Neoliberals want to prevent the powers of government from interfering with their ability to cut corners, dump industrial waste, pay fair wages, offer benefits, adhere to safety standards, engage in deceptive advertising, commit tax evasion, and so on — while continuing to supply them a steady stream of the public’s money via unpaid for tax cuts that balloon holes in the deficit. They fight against regulation tooth and nail, and try to claim that markets operate “naturally” as if under something akin to laws of physics — while failing to mention that there are no markets without regulation, without standards of fairness, without a justice system to enforce contracts and do its best to ensure a relatively equal business playing field.
  • The alchemy of neoliberalism will transmute greed into gold for everyone — The neoliberal promise is about spreading wealth, freedom, and democracy around the world — at the barrel of a gun, missile, or drone if necessary. Neoliberals consider greed to be the essence of human nature, and have modeled an entire societal system around this most base of human instincts. They claim, improbably — and surely many are True Believers — that narcissism and the aggressive pursuit of power and wealth will somehow magically create peace, happiness, and riches for everyone.

The insistence that governments and self-rule should be subordinated to the ultra-rich, to the oligarchs — that, to me, is the core essence of why this framework is evil. The staggeringly dissonant conviction about transforming sociopathy into global peace is a very close second.

Since the 1970s and accelerating with Reagan years, wealthy elites in the right wing have been spending gobs of their ill-earned wealth on creating a conservative movement echo chamber of think tanks, talk radio, literature, televangelists, YouTube streamers, and more — it is the vast right-wing conspiracy Hillary Clinton warned us about. It most certainly exists, and it most certainly is aggressively pursuing its political aims to disenfranchise the American people as fully as possible, so as to better walk away with an absurdly unjust share of the mutually created wealth by the wealth of intelligent and diligent labor here in the United States.

It appeals to the MAGA crowd because it allows them to vicariously tag along with the rich and powerful right-wing bigots who flaunt and dangle their wealth in front of the plebes by which to entice them to open up their wallets and send in a meagre donation for this or that white victimhood fund that does nothing but enrich the scam artists who run it as a hollow shell. It validates their hardcore white supremacy and casual racism alike, provides the sadistic satisfaction of attacking their enemies (symbolically and/or literally), gives them something to do and believe in, and keeps them entertained while their pockets are being fleeced in broad daylight.

Neoliberalism has succeeded in undermining some of the last shreds of democratic infrastructure and civic goodwill in society at this point in American political history. The defenses brilliantly architected by the Founders to ensure checks and balances would manage the power games in Washington to within workable levels have frayed even further under 4 years of Trump, and the vitriol of the January 6 coup attempt and insurrection that’s fueled further right-wing Big Lie entrenchment and domestic terrorist extremism.

Democracy is in crisis, and neoliberalism the culprit of this hostage story.

At least Joe Biden is correct in his analysis of the solution: we should tax the rich.

Safety Blanket Theory

For all their angry rhetoric and now, overtly political violence, I maintain that it is the right wing that is profoundly insecure, anxious, and in need of soothing. They are panicking at the idea that the world can possibly change without their approval, and deprive them of their stolen superiority — they do not want the party to end for white male dominance of this entire planet.

Right-wing authoritarian adults latch on to symbols and ideologies and demagogues as “surrogates” for the childhood safety blanket they once needed — these are the “adult-acceptable” pablum substitutes.

Moral Flat Earthers

Moral Flat Earthers characteristically lack discernment between very good and very bad on the moral spectrum — it is as if they see the “absolute value” of the moral impact and judge very evil to be “good” because of its sheer bigness. They are overwhelmed by the size and power of forces beyond their control, and become gobsmacked easily at the sight of muscle being flexed. Many want to be on the side of the flexer.

Moreover, they see the interest in discernment as a waste of time — as inefficient. Which, in the religio-capitalist worldview, is extremely sinful. When the money keeps rolling in, you don’t ask how — just Give it to God and let Jesus take the wheel. Because God loves people with money, and Jesus must have hung out with the poors by mistake, that quirky guy!

Moral Flat Earthers are bad at analogies, because they have no proper sense of the weight or gravity of things relative to each other. They spend very little time turning concepts over in their mind to understand them — their wisdom is largely received, and often sort of cut and pasted there by others. They pastiche their guiding philosophy from random sampling the authorities throughout their lives.

Core Timeline v0.1

YearEventRegionThemeDomain
-250000Modern humans emerge in Africa.AfricaAncient HistoryScience
-120000Earliest cave paintings we know of are located in a South African cave.AfricaAncient HistoryArts
-100000Modern humans migrate to the Middle East.Middle EastAncient HistoryHuman History
-75000Modern humans arrive in Southeast Asia and China.AsiaAncient HistoryHuman History
-40000Modern humans had now spread around the globe as we arrived in Europe, living alongside Neanderthals. The earliest European cave paintings are from around this time in Spain.EuropeAncient HistoryHuman History
-28000The Neanderthals go extinct.EuropeAncient HistoryHuman History
-16000Humans cross the Bering Strait to Alaska over a land bridge exposed by the warming planetNorth AmericaAncient HistoryHuman History
-15000The ice age ends, and global temperatures rise by 15 degrees C.GlobalAncient HistoryScience
-14000Modern humans reach South AmericaSouth AmericaAncient HistoryHuman History
-10000First human settlements begin in the North American Great Plains, modern-day Syria, and in the Yellow River Valley region of China.GlobalAncient HistoryHuman History
-7000Invention of textiles in EgyptAfrica, Middle EastMan vs. NatureTechnology
-5000Cultivation of tin as a metal resourceAncient HistoryTechnology
-4241The Egyptians begin using the 365 day calendarAfricaOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
-3800Bronze Age beginsGlobalAncient HistoryTechnology
-3500Mesopotamian cities Ur, Uruk, and others have emerged in and around modern-day IraqMiddle EastAncient HistoryPolitics
-2980The Great Pyramid of Zoser is built in EgyptAfrica, Middle EastAncient HistoryArchitecture
-2000The last woolly mammoths die out and the species go extinctGlobalMan vs. NatureScience
-2000Epic of Gilgamesh composedMiddle East, AfricaOur Place in the UniverseArts
-1792Hammurabi's Code of LawsMiddle EastDemocracy's StoryPolitics
-1200The Iron Age begins almost simultaneously around the world, in the Middle East, Europe, and IndiaMiddle East, Europe, GlobalMan vs. NatureTechnology
-800The city of Rome is founded by Romulus and RemusEuropeAncient HistoryPolitics
-560Siddharta Gautama born in India, later to become the Buddha; founder of BuddhismAsiaOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
-530Greek tragedy is in full swing with contributions from Aeschylus, Thespis, soon Sophocles, and othersEuropeOur Place in the UniverseArts
-510Roman Republic formed when the citizens overthrew king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, aka Tarquin the ProudEuropeDemocracy's StoryPolitics
-49Republic of Rome becomes the Roman Empire when Julius Caesar overthrows the RepublicEuropeAge of EmpiresPolitics
-27Julius Caesar Augustus becomes the first emperor of Rome, ruling for 45 yearsEuropeAge of EmpiresPolitics
79eruption of Mt. VesuviusEuropeMan vs. NatureScience
312New self-made Roman emperor Constantine converts to Christianity โ€” at least nominally; he makes the empire safe and welcoming to Christianity, while maintaining many of his old Roman beliefsEuropeAge of EmpiresPolitics
325Council of Nicaea called by Emperor Constantine; the adoption of the Nicene Creed establishes the empire's stance on the divinity of Jesus and establishes Christianity as the state religionEurope
476The last western Roman emperor , Romulus Augustinius, is deposed โ€” beginning the era of the Holy Roman Empire and marking the end of Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle AgesEuropeAge of EmpiresTechnology
632Death of Muhammad leads much of the Middle East and North Africa to convert to IslamMiddle East, Africa, EuropeOur Place in the UniversePolitics
656The first battle between the Shia (followers of Ali) and the Sunnis (followers of Aisha) over the fate of Islam โ€” a war still raging to this dayMiddle East
900-1200the golden age of North African scienceAfricaOur Place in the UniverseScience
1000an Indian mathematician recognizes the power of zeroCentral Asia, AsiaOur Place in the UniverseScience
1040Movable type is invented in ChinaAsiaKnowing ThingsTechnology
1066Battle of Hastings โ€” France's William the Conqueror defeats the other claimant to the English throne Harold and is crowned the first Norman king of England.EuropeConquest, Imperialism, and ColonialismPolitics
1073China invents an elaborate incense seal clockAsiaKnowing ThingsTechnology
1149Founding of Oxford University in EnglandEuropeKnowing ThingsKnowledge
1200Cambridge University founded in EnglandEuropeKnowing ThingsKnowledge
1265first Parliament elected in England, consisting mostly of feudal lords, knights, and wealthy aristocratsEuropeDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1271Venetian Marco Polo travels to China with his father at the age of 17; having been the first Europeans to visit the court of Kublai Khan over a 9-year stretch, the elder Nicolรฒ Polo brings his son with him on the return journey โ€” it will take them a trek of three and a half yearsEurope, AsiaAge of EmpiresKnowledge
1328The sawmill is inventedEuropeBusiness of the WorldTechnology
1330the hour becomes essentially our modern concept of hourGlobalMan vs. NatureTechnology
1347-1351Approximately 75 million people die from the Bubonic PlagueEurope, Africa, Middle EastMan vs. NatureScience
1399English poet Chaucer's The Canterbury TalesEuropeOur Place in the UniverseArts
1431Joan of Arc is burned at the stakeEuropeAge of EmpiresPolitics
1445Gutenberg invents the printing pressEuropeAttention Must be PaidTechnology
1492Christopher Columbus lands in the Americas, ushering in the age of Spanish Conquistadores and the colonial period โ€” first in the Bahamas, then Cuba, then Hispaniola before heading homeNorth AmericaConquest, Imperialism, and ColonialismKnowledge
1517Martin Luther, a German monk, becomes disillusioned with the church's selling of indulgences to fund construction projects (and with Calvinism more generally). Submits his 95 theses to papal authority, and after various machinations is excommunicated for challenging the authority of the PopeEuropeOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
1583Galileo dedicates himself to the study of mathematics and physicsEuropeOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
1585Founding of the first American colony at Roanoke, in modern-day North CarolinaNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1607Founding of the second American colony at Jamestown, in modern-day VirginiaNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1636Harvard University foundedNorth AmericaOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
1637the first American slave ship sets out on her maiden voyageNorth America, AfricaConquest, Imperialism, and ColonialismPolitics
1665Plague arrives in LondonEuropeMan vs. NatureScience
1688Glorious Revolution in England: Parliament invited Dutch William of Orange & his wife Mary, James's Protestant daughter, to replace JamesEuropeDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1701Yale College foundedNorth AmericaOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
1760invention of the steam engine in England (James Watt)EuropeMan vs. NatureTechnology
1776U.S. Declaration of Independence is written in PhiladelphiaNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1787U.S. Constitution written in PhiladelphiaNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1789U.S. Constitution is ratifiedNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1799~10-year French Revolution overthrows the monarchyEuropeDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1839Louis Daguerre demonstrates the photographic technique he's developed: the cameraEuropeOur Place in the UniverseArts
1844The Associated Press foundedNorth AmericaAttention Must be PaidKnowledge
1859Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of the SpeciesEuropeOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
1865U.S. Civil War endsNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1914WWI begins
1921Tulsa massacreNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1942Pearl HarborNorth AmericaConquest, Imperialism, and ColonialismPolitics
1945WWII ends
1949Formation of NATOEurope, North AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1953Korean War ends
1954Brown v. the Board of EducationNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1961Stanley Milgram conducts his famous obedience studies showing how willing students are to give electric shocks to their peers if ordered to by authority figuresScience
1964Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights ActDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1975The Vietnam War ends
1980Election of former actor and PR agent Ronald Reagan as President of the United States
1984Breakup of the Bell system monopoly
1986Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine
1987Iran-Contra scandal wherein Reagan trades arms for hostages and lies about it
1989Berlin Wall falls
1990Tim Berners-Lee puts up the first web page
1991Soviet Union collapses
1998Microsoft monopoly broken up
2000Vladimir Putin becomes Russian President following Yeltsin's resignation
2007Apple announces the first iPhone; Google announces Android
2008Bitcoin and the blockchain invented
2010Citizens Unied ushers in the era of dark money in politics
2012Sandy Hook mass school shooting

๐ŸŽฏ Core Models and Concepts ๐ŸŽฏ

We all have learnings in our lives we consider more precious than others — explanations and predictions that endure and keep on giving, versus those that fade away. Our core models form the backbone of our thinking and decision-making throughout our lives; it’s our grab bag of problem solving tools — and we want to have a resilient Swiss Army Knife at the ready at all times. These mental models help us understand a complex world, and prepare for all the changes that are inevitably ahead.

This set of core models below is my personal “desert island” set of model thinking concepts. These are the ones I really wouldn’t want to be caught dead leaving the house without.

Once these are on lock, head over to the unabridged models section for more model thinking goodness!

ConceptDateFieldPersonDefinition
absolute value1806MathJean-Robert ArgandThe value of x, regardless of its sign (or, its distance from zero).
activation energy1889ChemistrySvante ArrheniusThe amount of energy required to get two or more compounds to react, in chemistry or physics.
adverse selection1860sMoney
"All the world's a stageโ€œ1599ArtsWilliam ShakespeareShakespearean metaphor likening culture to a theatrical performance: "And all the men and women merely players;They have their exits and their entrances ..."โ€”William Shakespeare, As You Like It
annuity1970sMoneyA series of payments made at equal intervals.
antifragile2012MathNassim TalebThings that can benefit from disorder, and grow stronger amidst chaos.
antimatter1928PhysicsPaul Dirac
appreciationMoney
a prioriStrategy
arrow of time1927PhysicsArthur Eddington
assetMoney
asymptoteMath
availability bias1973PsychologyKahneman and Tversky
averageMath
bank reservesMoney
Base Rate FallacyPsychology
Bayes' Theorem1763MathReverend Thomas BayesA mathematical method of determining the updated probability of a certain event or case, given new information
Big Bang1949PhysicsFred Hoyle
black holesPhysicsStephen Hawking
Black Swan2007MathNassim Taleb
blockchainMoney
boiling frog syndromePsychology
broken windows theoryPsychology
Butterfly Effect1963PhysicsEdward Lorenz
bystander effectPsychology
capital gainsMoney
carbon dating1940sPhysicsWillard LibbyA method of determining the age of an organic sample by radioactive decay.
carpe diemStrategy"Seize the day!"
catalystChemistry
cause and effect
caveat emptorStrategy
Central Limit Theorem1733MathAbraham de Moivre
ceteris paribusStrategy"all other things being equal"; holding the effects of other variables constant to determine the effects on a single variable of interest
Chesterton's Fence1929Strategy
chilling effect
compound interestMoney
Condorcet Jury Theorem1785MathMarquis de Condorcet
confirmation biasPsychology
consent of the governedPolitical philosophyConcept of political philosophy in which a government's legitimacy and right to use state power is only justified if consented to by the people over whom said power is wielded.
correlation is not causation
counterfactuals
creative destruction1942MoneyJoseph Shumpeter Economist Joseph Shumpeter's idea for how the business cycle works: by innovation disrupting established processes and industries and forcing change into markets, often destructively and swiftly
crossing the RubiconHistoryJulius CaesarMaking a decision from which there is no turning back; a reference to Julius Caesar's overthrow of the Roman republic to found the Roman Empire in 49 BCE
cryptocurrencyMoney
dark matterPhysics
dead hand of the pastPolitical philosophyThomas JeffersonProblem inherent in constitutional political philosophy, where eventually a people becomes ruled by "masters" no longer alive, who rule by "fiat" via a document, from beyond the grave.
decision treeStrategy
depreciationMoney
distributionMath
diversityStrategy
divident paymentsMoneyPeriodic, usually quarterly, payouts to stockholders of the company when posting profits. Along with capital gains, one of the 2 primary reasons to invest in stocks.
Doppler Effect1842PhysicsChristian Doppler
Drake Equation1961PhysicsFrank DrakeEstimation of the number of technological civilizations that might exist in the universe.
Dunbar Number1990sRobin Dunbar
Dunning-Kruger EffectA cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as higher than it actually is, because they cannot recognize their incompetence in comparison to others.
Duverger's Law1940sPolitical philosophyMaurice DuvergerHolds that plurality-rule elections within single member districts โ€” such as the structure found in the U.S. โ€” tend to favor two-party systems
edge case
elasticityMoneyThe ability of pricing mechanisms to respond quickly or less quickly to changes in prevailing conditions
electromagnetic spectrumPhysics
emperor's new clothesStrategy
entropy
equilibrium
event horizonPhysics
evolution
exit strategyStrategy
false negatives
false positives
falsifiabillity
fiduciary dutyEthics
fifth columnStrategyA group who unites in secret to undermine a larger group from within.
first mover advantageStrategy
force multiplierStrategy
fractals1975MathBenoit Mandelbrot
fractional lendingMoney
fundamental attribution error
general relativityAlbert Einstein
general willPolitical philosophyJean-Jacques Rousseau
Golden MeanMathAristotleAristotelian theory of an ideal balance point between the many extremes we face in life; he advocated harmony between the various spheres of life for an experience of happiness
Golden RuleEthicsAncient"Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you" is the essence of this ancient wisdom, often used as a shorthand version of Jesus's core teaching.
Goldilocks Zone
gravityPhysics
Heisenberg Uncertainty PrinciplePhysics----- Heisenberg
heuristicsPsychologyMental shortcuts that we do as a matter of routine, especially when we're stressed or under other types of cognitive constraints.
inflation
inflection point
intellectual propertyMoneyIP
iron law of ligarchyPolitical philosophyPolitical theory positing that no matter how democratic a group may start out, over time it will develop into a bureaucracy ruled by a small handful
keystone
Laffer curveMoney
Law of Large Numbers1713MathJacob BernoulliAs the number of coin tosses approaches infinity, the number of heads encountered will converge on 0.5; helpful in calculations of probability.
least-barricaded gateStrategyLeon TrotskyMetaphor about how social revolutions can take hold more easily in already weakened societies.
length contractionPhysics
lifeboat ethicsEthics
limiting factor
long tailMath
loss aversionPsychology
Lost EinsteinsMoney
map is not the territory
margin of errorMath
Maslow's PyramidPsychology---- Maslow
meanMath
medianMath
Median Voter Theorem
mens rea
Moore's Law
moral hazardMoney
Narcissus & Echo
Nash EquilibriumMath
natural selectionCharles Darwin
negative interest ratesMoney
Newton's Laws of MotionPhysics1st, 2nd, and 3rd laws
normal distributionMath
null hypothesis
observer effect
Occam's RazorStrategy
oligarchy
opportunity costMoneyWhat you miss out on by using a resource in a certain way -- what you would have done with the resource otherwise; what alternative use you would have put it to.
outlierMath
paradoxMath
Pareto PrincipleMoney----- Pareto
path dependentMath
Pavlov's dogsPsychology
pearls before swine
permutations
Peter Principle
phase shift
Plato's cavePhilosophyPlato
point of no returnStrategy
Polyanna PrinciplePsychologyTendency for people to remember pleasant events more accurately than unpleasant ones
Potemkin Village
Prisoner's DilemmaStrategy
probabilityMath
Procrustean BedStrategyProcrustesSynonymous with ruthlessly enforcing conformity, the phrase comes from a Greek tale of extreme "form fitting" on the part of Poseidon's son Procrustes, a robber who is said to have attacked victims by cutting off men's legs or stretching them on racks accordingly to fit an iron bed size.
proxy warStrategy
Pyrrhic VictoryStrategy
quantum physicsPhysics
quid pro quoStrategy
ReagonomicsMoney
received wisdom
red shiftPhysics
redundancyStrategy
resilienceStrategyAbility to bounce back into shape after having been pressed or stretched; elasticity. The capacity to recover quickly.
ripple effect
riskMoney
root cause
Rosetta Stone
roundingMath
rounding error
rule of law
Schrรถdinger's CatPhysics
selection biasPsychology
Single point of failure (SPoF)A part of a system that, when it fails, brings down the entire rest of the system or stops it from working properly.
singularity
six degrees of separation
skin in the gameEthics
social contractPolitical philosophyJean-Jacques Rousseau
social contractPolitical philosophyJohn Locke
Socratic methodSocrates
special relativityAlbert Einstein
speed of lightPhysicsApprox. 300 million meters per second
standard deviationMath
stare decisis"It has been decided" โ€” terminology used by a judge or court to indicate that the matter before them has already been decided by a previous ruling.
state of naturePolitical philosophyThomas Hobbes
status quo
Streisand Effect
supply and demandMoney
sword of Damocles
tabula rasaStrategyblank slate
tilting at windmillsStrategyMiguel de Cervantes
time dilationPhysics
tipping pointMath
Tit-for-TatStrategy
too many cooks in the kitchenStrategy
tragedy of the commons
trickle down economicsMoney
trolley problemEthics
turtles all the way down
twin paradoxPhysicsAlbert Einstein
tyranny of choice
usuryMoney
variance
veil of ignorance1971Political philosophyJohn Rawls
Venn diagramMath
vulnerabilityPsychologyBrene Brown
wave-particle duality
wisdom of crowdsStrategyDerived from the Diversity Prediction Theorem: the average prediction of a group of individuals will be more accurate than the prediction of one average member
wolves and sheepStrategy
worst case scenarioStrategy
zero sum gameStrategy

The Origins of Conservatism in the 1920s and 30s

(notes / draft) What are the true origins of conservatism?

1930s, in opposition to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal

3 main factions then:

  1. libertarians — Milton Friedman
  2. traditionalists — William F. Buckley, National Review (1955), Barry Goldwater
  3. anti-communistsJohn Birch Society, Robert Welch, McCarthyites

After the Allies won World War II, a number of the early Hitler sympathizers “hid out” in anti-communist circles, allowing them to cloak their underlying fascism inside of the American Cold War project and give it a semi-presentable face in conservatism.

In the 1970s, 2 more conservative groups emerged for a total of 5 main sects:

4. neoconservatives — Ronald Reagan

5. the religious right — the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell Sr. & Jr., Jimmy Swaggart, Jim & Tammy Fae Baker, Pat Robertson, Jesse Helms, Paul Weyrich, Paul Regnery, William Rusher, prosperity gospel

  • Evangelicals
  • fundamentalism
    • relationship between fundamentalist thinking and authoritarianism
    • rejection of science and empiricism
    • rejection of the liberal political order
    • limitations of received wisdom
  • Christian nationalism
    • Biblical law
    • End Times

Other topics

  • neoliberals & theocons — Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush, and others who led us into forever wars in the Middle East
  • MAGA
  • white supremacists & Lost Cause religion
  • right-wing anti-government violence
    • domestic violent extremism
  • conservative ideology
    • a form of totalism

American Fascists & the Global Right ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

It feels like the 1930s all over again — and with good reason. The rise of American fascists and right-wing extremism around the world has been a known trend for decades, and America’s past flirtations with fascism had been largely swept under the rug by the then anti-semites who tried to put a stop to FDR’s New Deal and prevent the U.S. from getting into World War II.

They fought against labor unions and labor organizers, often using private militia as henchmen to do their dirtywork with plausible deniability for themselves. The KKK was just one of many instruments put to use in service of plutocratic aims to quell any “communist awakening” amongst their workers, lest they get any uppity ideas for themselves. They fell for the popular conspiracy theories of their time, which included Hitler’s bogus assertion that Jewish bankers controlled the world and had to be stopped before they destroyed the white race.

Those fascists, butthurt over America’s overwhelmingly popular decision to enter the war and stop Hitler from exterminating the Jews, seethed with jealousy at the post-war “liberal consensus” that flourished alongside the booming US economy, propelled first by the war effort and later by the peacetime success of the New Deal’s long shadow and the burgeoning of the American middle class.

The American fascists turned into the John Birch Society, and the McCarthyites, and the Libertarians, and the Moral Majority, and the Gingrich Revolution, and the Tea Party, and the MAGA / QAnon stew sloshing around mass media. The kooks on the far right — the kind of ilk so cray cray that even William F. Buckley excommunicates you from the Republican Party — have taken over the hen house now. Outrage sells, as Facebook well knows — and as two-bit dictators around the world have bribed Mark Zuckerberg to brainwash the masses using the most inanely illogical propaganda prolefeed, the world tilts dangerously towards authoritarianism and the end of our democracy as we know it. And with it, all hope for truth and light into the future for some time to come — the equivalent of a political meteor hitting the Earth.

The American fascists are still around, and now they have tools of propaganda that Goebbels could never have even wet dreamed of. They’re more powerful and more well-connected — to other sociopaths, malignant narcissists, and other pathological cult-leader types who might be of transactional service to each other from time to time. We’d be wise to keep an eye on these folks.

NameTypeLocationKnown for
Roman AbramovichForeign agentRussian oligarch close to both Putin and Trump
ACU Strategic PartnersForeign agentA company seeking to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East in partnership with a sanctioned Russia company; Mike Flynn was working for them without having disclosed it to the US government as required.
Sheldon AdelsonBusinesspersonLas Vegas, NVCEO billionaire of the Sands Corp casino empire (died, 2021)
AggregateIQCorporation
Todd AkinPoliticianMissouriPolitician who lost his Senate race to Clairse McCaskill in 2012 when he made the comment on TV about women having a way to "shut the whole thing down" to avoid becoming pregnant if raped.
American Energy AllianceNon-profitA tax-exempt nonprofit that advocated for corporate-friendly energy policies. Koch's Freedom Partners donated $1.5 million in 2012.
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)Non-profitCorporate-funded nonprofit that writes legislation for Republican legislatures, including spearheading the efforts to wrest partisan control over election results in 49 states.
Americans for ProsperityPACThe Koch Brothers' Libertarian political advocacy arm
Philip AnschutzColoradoCO oil and entertainment billionaire and founder of Qwest Communications
Lee Atwater
Michele Bachman
Steve BannonMedia personality
William Barr
Andy BiggsPoliticianAZHouse Republican
Black LegionExtremistMichiganSecret society of black-hooded terrorists working in MI against labor unions and labor organizers in the 1930s. Legionnaires talked of staging a coup to oust FDR and imposing a fascist regime in the United States
David BogatinOligarchNYCA top figure in the Russian mafia who bought 5 luxury condos in Trump Tower to launder money, he admitted in 1987.
Jacob BogatinOligarchDavid Bogatin's brother, and a partner of notorious Russian mob moss Semion Mogilevich
Harry and Lynde BradleyKochtopusMidwesterners who built their wealth on defense contracts
Andrew BreitbartMedia personalityFounded both Brietbart and the Huffington Post
Ruby Bridges
Mo BrooksPolitician
Brother's CircleCriminalOrganized crime gang pursued by then-FBI head Robert Mueller circa 2011
Michael BrownFerguson, MOUnarmed black man killed by the police in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking a series of riots in the city.
Pat Buchanan
William F. Buckley JrMedia personality
Doug BurleyFounding and leading both The Family and the National Prayer Breakfast of right-wing power brokers
Cambridge Analytica
Tucker CarlsonMedia personality
Doug CaseyAyn Rand devotee and "anarcho-capitalist" who specializes in how to profit from turmoil
Michael CatanzaroLobbyistPartner at the CGCN Group lobbying firm who headed "energy independence" for the Trump transition team.
Madison Cawthorn
Center to Protect Patient RightsDark money group funded by the Kochs to attack the ACA with fearmongering and vitriol
Mike CernovichMedia personality
CGCN GroupLobbyistLobbyist for the Koch brothers
James ChaneyActivistNeshoba County, MSOne of 3 civil rights activists murdered by local white supremacists when engaging in non-violent civil disobedience, along with Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman
Chris ChristiePoliticianGovernor of NJ
Michael CohenBusinesspersonDonald Trump's personal lawyer, sentenced to 3 years in federal prison for felony crimes, including campaign finance crimes
Steven A. CohenFinance (SAC Capital Advisors)
Roy Cohn
Competitive Enterprise InstituteThink TankA Washington think tank that had been bankrolled by fossil fuel industries, particularly the Kochs.
Continental ResourcesCorporationOklahomaOK-based shale oil company with a large and profitable fracking operation
Coors brewing familyKoch InvestorColorado
Ted CruzPoliticianTexas
Kim DavisPublic SectorKentucky
Devos familyKoch InvestorFounders of the Amway marketing empire; Betsy DuVos is the Secretary of Education under Trump
Amadou DialloNew Yorka West African immigrant mowed down by 41 shots from police when leaving his apartment on February 4, 1999.
James DobsonMedia personalityconservative talk-show host
Chester DolesFormer KKK leader who runs the white supremacist American Patriots USA. Nearly beat a Black man to death in 1993. Marched in 2017 in Charlottesville.
Dinesh D'SouzaConservative gadly who alleged that Obama was "African" in outlook rather than American, absorbing his "radical" views from his Kenyan father
Doug Ducey
David DukeWhite Supremacist
John EastmanRan against Kamala Harris in 2010 for California AG, then showed back up in 2020 to write an outrageous op-ed that Newsweek for some reason actually published, that claimed that she was "secretly" not a US resident and therefore not eligible to be the VP! Now the Kamala Harris birther
Myron EbellOutspoken climate change skeptic, who headed the Trump transition team for the EPA
Election Integrity Project CaliforniaExtremistElection fraud group working with Leonard Leo
Cassandra Fairbanks
Jerry Falwell, JrTelevangelist
The FamilyLobbyistShadowy DC group with tremendous sway in Congress and around the world, following a distorted "strongman Jesus" version of Christianity.
The Federalist SocietyExtremist
Scott FitzgeraldPoliticianWIHouse Republican
Michael FlynnLobbyist
For AmericaPAC
Fox NewsCorporation
Freedom PartnersKochtopusThe Koch Brothers' secretive donor club.
FreedomWorksExtremist
Kevin GentryVP of Special Projects and VP of the Koch Foundation
Greg GianfortePoliticianbody-slamming Guardian reported Ben Jacobs while running for a GOP House seat in Montana
Newt GingrichMedia personality
Tim "Baked Alaska" GionetWhite Supremacist
Rudy GiulianiPoliticianNYC
GiveSendGo"Christian" donation platform
Barry GoldwaterPoliticianAZ
Chuck GrassleyPoliticianSenator
The Great Awakening
Marjorie Taylor GreeneQAnonGA
Eric Greitens
Harold HammKochtopusBillionaire founder of Continental Resources, an OK-based shale company with large fracking business & one of the charter members of the Kochs' donor circle.
Orrin HatchPoliticianSen. Orrin Hatch raised concerns about funding certain entitlement programs. โ€œI have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who wonโ€™t help themselves, wonโ€™t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything,โ€ he said.
Josh Hawley
Jesse Helms
Leona Helmsley
Diane HendricksThe wealthiest woman in Wisconsin at $3.6 billion
Heritage FoundationThink TankWashington, DC
Honest Elections ProjectExtremistA conservative legal organization connected to Leonard Leo that files legal briefs to SCOTUS opposing mail-in ballots and other voting reforms that help more people to vote,
Andrew JacksonPoliticianUS President
John Birch SocietyExtremist
Andrew JohnsonPoliticianUS President
Chuck JohnsonMedia personalityAlt-right super troll
Alex JonesMedia personalityHost of InfoWars, the 9/11 conspiracy show that put the genre on the map
Jim JordanPoliticianOHA long-time Tea Party hyena, the Congressman known as Gym once helped his buddy cover up decades of sexual abuse of young wrestlers in their care.
Judicial Education ProjectExtremistA legal group tied to Leonard Leo, working to advance conservative takeover of the judiciary.
Islam KarimovOligarchUzbekistanFormer Communist official who became the first president of Uzbekistan in 1991, and remained the country's dictator until his death in 2016.
Brett KavanaughJudge
Dr. D. James Kennedycreating a Dominionist "conversion" playbook
John F. KennedyPolitician
Robert F. KennedyPolitician
Martin Luther KingActivistCivil Rights leader in the 1960s, and enemy of Southern politicians
Charlie KirkMedia personality
KKKWhite Supremacist
Bill KochBusinessperson
Charles KochKochtopusKansasindustries: pipelines, oil refineries, lumber and paper, coal, chemicals, commodity futures, etc.
David KochKochtopusKansasindustries: pipelines, oil refineries, lumber and paper, coal, chemicals, commodity futures, etc. (now deceased)
Fred KochKochtopusKansasFather of Charles and David, Fred Koch was an early and fervent acolyte in the ultra-conservative John Birch Society
Frederick KochBusinesspersonNew York
Ku Klux Klan (see KKK)White Supremacist
Ken LangoneBusinesspersonFounder of Home Depot
Lyndon LaRoucheCult Leader
Robert LeFevreKochtopusCharles Koch's mentor, a quasi-anarchist, who said, "government is a disease masquerading as its own cure"
Leonard LeoExtremistChairman of the Federalist Society, a legal organization working to pack the courts with conservative judges.
Liberty CounselChristian special rights group
William S. Lind
Kelly LoefflerPoliticianGeorgiaInsider trading immediately upon arriving at her unelected Senate seat when her husband, President of the NYSE, found a way to have some money arrive at Brian Kemp, the Governor, who appointed her.
Dana LoeschMedia personalityNRA spokeswoman
Paul ManafortLobbyist
John McAfeeBusinessperson
Michael McKennaKochtopusLobbyist and President of MWR Strategies lobbying firm, who have the Koch brothers as clients
Rebekah MercerOligarchDaughter of NY hedge fund manager Robert Mercer; she helped guide the Trump transition team following the 2016 election
Robert MercerOligarch
MicroChipPro-Trump bot-king
Michael Milken
Semion MogilevichCriminalNotorious Russian mob boss
Stefan MolyneuxMedia personalityAlt-right troll
Sun Myung MoonCult LeaderLeader of the Moonie cult and self-proclaimed deity, Mr Moon served time in federal prison for tax fraud, among other charges.
Roy MoorePoliticianTrump-backed politician and pedophile who narrowly lost the Alabama Senate race to Doug Jones in 2018.
MWR StrategiesKochtopusLobbying firm for the Koch brothers
neo-NazisExtremist
Ralph NormanPoliticianHouse Republican who skirted the metal detectors to enter the House floor after the January 6 insurrection
NRAExtremistNational Rifle Association
NYPDPublic SectorNew York Police Department
Barack ObamaPoliticianChicago, DC, Los AngelesThe 44th President of the United States, and the first black person to hold the job. He was widely loathed by the Right despite his positive record.
John M. OlinKochtopusChemical and munitions company titan
Norman Vincent PealeBusinesspersonChristianity as a business man's religion
Mike PenceMedia personality
Rick PerryPolitician
Scott PerryHouse Republican who skirted the metal detectors to enter the House floor after the January 6 insurrection
Jordan B PetersonAcademic
Mike PompeoPublic SectorSec of State after the firing of Rex Tillerson; former CIA Director; former Republican congressman from KS and largest recipient of Koch campaign funds in all of Congress
Jack PosobiecMedia personality
Lewis Powell
Sydney PowellAlso Associates with UFO believers and anti-vaxxers
Proud Boys
Thomas Pylepresident of the American Energy Alliance, funded by Exxon and the Kochs
QAnon
Nancy Reagan
Ronald ReaganPolitician
Pat RobertsonTelevangelist
George Romney
Mitt RomneyPolitician
Richard Mellon ScaifeKoch InvestorHeir to the Mellon banking and Gulf Oil fortunes, and Koch donor
David Schnare"Free-market environmentalist" who accused the EPA of having blood on its hands, who joined climate change denier Myron Ebell on the Trump transition team for the EPA
Stephen SchwarzmanFinance
Rick Scott
Jeff Sessions
Marc ShortRan the Koch Brothers' secretive donor club, Freedom Partners, before becoming Mike Pence's senior advisor during the 2016 presidential transition
Sinclair Broadcasting GroupCorporation
Paul SingerKoch InvestorFinance (Elliott Management hedge fund). Supported Rudy Giuliani.
SNCCNon-profit
Richard SpencerMedia personality
State Policy NetworkFunded in part by the Kochs
Roger StoneLobbyist
Richard StrongStrong Capital Management Mutual Fund
Tea PartyIntensely antitax group
Peter ThielBusinessperson
Three Percenters
Turning Point USA
Unification Church
Unite the RightActivist
University of Texas at Austin
Ricky Vaughn
George WallacePoliticianAlabama
Joe Walsh
Kelli WardPoliticianAZGOP Chair
Ron WatkinsIdentified as the most likely suspect to be Q
WeevWhite SupremacistAndrew "Weev" Auernheimer
Paul WeyrichWhite Supremacist
Darren WilsonPolice officer who brutally killed a Black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, MO in 2014.
WikiLeaksForeign agent
Milo Yiannopoulos
TYPE (raw)Typepivot
BusinesspersonAcademic
BusinesspersonActivistTYPE (raw)
BusinesspersonBusinessperson
BusinesspersonCorporationBusinessperson
BusinesspersonCriminalCorporation
BusinesspersonCult LeaderKoch Investor
BusinesspersonExtremistLobbyist
BusinesspersonForeign agentMedia personality
BusinesspersonJudgenon-profit
CorporationKochtopusPolitician
CorporationLobbyistPublic Sector
CorporationMedia personalityThink Tank
Koch InvestorNon-profitType
Koch InvestorOligarchGrand Total
Koch InvestorPAC
Koch InvestorPolitician
Koch InvestorPublic Sector
Koch InvestorQAnon
Koch InvestorTelevangelist
Koch InvestorThink Tank
Koch InvestorWhite Supremacist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Media personality
Media personality
Media personality
Media personality
Media personality
Media personality
non-profit
Non-profit
Non-profit
Non-profit
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Public Sector
Public Sector
Think Tank
Think Tank
Type

Dunning-Kruger Effect

A strong and prevalent cognitive bias that causes a large majority of people to rate themselves more highly and more skilled than statistically possible. Lack of self-awareness can cause us to overestimate our knowledge or ability in a given area, and this phenomenon is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Posited in 1999 by two Cornell psychologists, Professors Dunning and Kruger also found that low-skilled people often have a double bind: they think of themselves as very skilled, but the lack even the basic level of skill that would allow them to detect and learn from their mistakes to get better. It’s very difficult for them to get out of the “trap” of perceiving themselves as superior, thus obviating any need to continue effort at improvements.

They also found that individuals of high skill levels also suffer from a sort of “lensing effect” (now dubbed the Dunning-Kruger Effect accordingly) in terms of their own self-assessment, but in the other direction — they are not generally aware of the rarity of their gifts. They assume most other people have the same kinds of knowledge and critical thinking skills that they do. In other words, careful study of our images of ourselves found us all to be living in a bubble of inaccurate self-perception, on both ends.

How to counteract the Dunning-Kruger Effect:

  • Ask for feedback from other people, and listen to it honestly.
  • Keep learning and gather knowledge and improving your skills.

Trump is driving Evangelicals from the flock

It’s been said that the devilish ways of pedophiliac liberal Democrats are killing Christianity in America, but the numbers tell a different story. Following the 2016 Armistice in the War on Christmas, Donald Trump yet managed to drive 1 in 7 Evangelicals from the fold, according to data from Pew and PRRI.

Far from the surge in True Believers prophesied by the right wing, the religious right’s deal with the proverbial and/or literal devil seems to have driven members away. Trump is losing Evangelicals, and really — should we be so shocked? If it doesn’t matter (to some) whether our leaders are serial philanderers and lifelong business cheats, or earnestly striving public servants spreading compassion — what use is their moral code, then? None. It is bankrupt.

Shrรถdinger’s Moral Leadership

The religious right can’t have it both ways — either moral leadership is important, or it isn’t. It can’t selectively be important *only* when a Democrat is in power. Evangelicals also need to make a choice between God and Caesar. Prosperity gospel is the latter and not the former, but many pretend otherwise or are fooled — after all, fool’s gold can still fool.

Cognitive dissonance upon dissonance continues to fall in the totally unraked forest of right-wing values. I’m aiming to continue pulling on a few threads connecting the religious right, and Evangelicals in particular, to the rise of political extremism in the Republican Party:

  • The pitch that winning the culture war is more important than God’s law is thin at best
  • Donald Trump is not a Christian
  • The “imperfect vessel” fails as moral justification
  • Jesus didn’t care about tax cuts
  • Christian leaders’ claims that politics is amoral ground beyond the reach of God’s teachings is self-evident nonsense
  • Christians are leaving their own moral house unguarded. No one is showing the living proof of Jesus’ teachings anymore — and it’s not the fault of the people on the left who weren’t doing it before.

Essential thinkers on authoritarian personalities

Many people around the world were shocked in the aftermath of World War II. How could “polite” society break down so utterly, so swiftly, and so zealously? Why did authoritarian personalities come to dominate human affairs, seemingly out of nowhere? How thin is this veneer of civilization, really?

A braintrust of scholars, public servants, authors, psychologists, and others have been analyzing these questions ever since. Some of the most prominent thinkers on the subject of authoritarianism were either themselves affected by the Nazi regime, or lived through the war in some capacity. Other more recent contributions have built on those original foundations, refining and extending them as more new history continues to unfold with right-wing behavior to observe.

Top research on authoritarian personalities

  • Theodor Adorno — Forced into exile by the Nazi regime, the German philosopher was a member of the Frankfurt School who tried to make sense of the evils of Hitler’s rule. He developed the F-scale in 1947, a personality test designed to identify authoritarian personalities through a set of signature traits like conventionalism, aggression, superstition, cynicism, stereotypy, projectivity, and preoccupation with sex. His studies on antisemitism and propaganda would lay the groundwork for sociological studies at the Institute for Social Research at Columbia University, the Frankfurt School’s intellectual and literal home in New York City during WWII.
  • Bob Altemeyer — Canadian psychology professor who built upon Adorno’s work to create the Right-wing Authoritarianism Scale in 1981, the now standard diagnostic tool for identifying authoritarian personalities. Altemeyer’s research on authoritarian followers added new dimensions to the field of study, often focused previously on the psychology and behavior of authoritarian leaders of the day such as Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin. His most recent book, The Authoritarians, compiles the essential insights from his forty years of research on authoritarianism and is available for free at the link above.
  • Erich Fromm — A German Jewish psychologist and sociologist, Erich Fromm fled the Nazis and worked with the Frankfurt School of exiles on issues of social change, socioeconomics, and a broad range of interdisciplinary studies across the social, political, and economic sciences. His first book, Escape From Freedom (1941), is considered one of the founding tomes of political psychology. In 1964 he coined the term malignant narcissism to describe the depths of ultimate evil he lived through during Hitler’s rise to power, a phrase clinically synonymous with psychopathy — the quintessential cold-blooded killers who show no remorse for their murderous zeal. His concept of group narcissism (1973) extended Freud’s theory of collective narcissism to describe the phenomenon where members of an ingroup hold inflated views of their group that require external validation from others to continuously reaffirm their supremacy.
  • Hannah Arendt — Born Jewish in Germany in 1906, Hannah Arendt got her doctorate in philosophy in 1929 but was unable to find footing in her academic career due to the sharp rise of hostility towards the Jews. Arendt fled the country in 1933 after Hitler came to power and she was arrested for her “illegal” research into antisemitism. Forced to flee again from her exile in France in 1940, she escaped to New York and became an American citizen in 1950. Her first book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), is considered one of the seminal works on the subject. Among her many other titles, The Human Condition (1958) may be the most influential — it establishes her core philosophy of “natality,” the idea of human affairs naturally renewing itself through the literal process of birth, with new individuals arriving continuously to reinterpret both the present and the past as well as re-imagine the future.
  • Karen Stenner — An Australian political scientist, Stenner is known for her cross-cultural research findings that show about a third (approximately 33%) of whites in a given population will tend to have authoritarian predispositions. Her work also shows the difference between authoritarian personalities, who have a great distaste for difference and diversity, and conservative mentalities, who have a significant aversion to change. Stenner posits authoritarianism as the result of a low tolerance for ambiguity, complexity, and — as a consequence — sociocultural diversity: “freedom feeds fear which undermines freedom, and democracy is its own undoing” (from her 2005 work The Authoritarian Dynamic).

More foundational thinkers

  • Czeslaw Milosz — Author of The Captive Mind (1953), the Lithuanian-born poet, writer, and activist grew up in Poland and lived through the German invasion and Soviet occupation there during and after World War II. In the book, he describes the psychological and social effects of living under Communism, with emphasis on the surprising complicity of many members of the Polish intellectual and creative class.
  • Vaclav Havel — A Czech playwright who became more politically active as a dissident after the Soviet invasion of Warsaw in 1968, Havel wrote The Power of the Powerless (1978) about his experiences living in the lies of a communist regime. He was a political prisoner under the anti-intellectualism of Soviet rule multiple times, once for as long as 4 years.
  • Viktor Frankl — Holocaust survivor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and philosopher who chronicled his experiences in Nazi concentration camps, his observations about his fellow prisoners, the guards, and the psychology of Hitler’s murderous antisemitic regime more broadly. After being liberated from Auschwitz, having lost the rest of his family to the camps, he returned to Vienna to head a hospital neurological department and wrote Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) over the course of only 9 days. He went on to develop logotherapy, a branch of psychotherapy that places the search for life’s meaning at the center of human motivation, and laid the groundwork for the development of positive psychology.
  • Herbert Marcuse — Another refugee intellectual with the Franklin School, Marcuse worked with the pre-CIA OSS to research and counteract Nazi propaganda.
  • George Orwell — The British author most synonymous with portraying the evils of totalitarianism through his two classic fiction works Animal Farm (1945) and 1984 (1949). To this day we use the term Orwellian to describe the creeping dread of a dystopian, all-powerful government pumping out lies and thought control.
  • Robert O. Paxton — Seminal work on the nature of fascism
  • Timothy Snyder — Yale professor and scholar of autocratic regimes
  • Masha Gessen — Russian-American journalist, author, and queer activist whose definitive biography of Vladimir Putin, The Man Without a Face (2013), is one of several must reads on the rise of Russia’s revanchism with the West.
  • George Lakoff — Linguist who analyzes political messaging and writes about the strict father vs. nurturing parent Manichaean struggle between conservative/authoritarian and liberal value systems. Lakoff stresses the counterintuitive finding that approximately 98% of our thinking is done unconsciously, and that we are driven by these unconscious thoughts and beliefs to a much larger extent than we are generally aware of.
  • Alice Miller — Swiss psychologist whose career uncovered that the consequences of child corporal punishment tend to be authoritarian personalities later in life. Her work shows that child abuse perpetuates emotional blindness later in life and a number of vicious cycles in society from generation to generation, from aggression and paranoia to corruption, crime, and violence.
  • Jerrold Post — One of the foremost researchers on political paranoia and a founder of the field of political psychology, the professor spent 2 decades as a CIA agent prior to teaching and writing about the political behavior of malignant personality types. His last book, Dangerous Charisma: The Political Psychology of Donald Trump and His Followers (2019), was published one year before the 2020 election.
  • Richard Hofstadter — studies the “paranoid style” in American politics
  • Jonathan Haidt — Author of The Righteous Mind
          

Top Mental Models for Thinkers

Mental models are different ways of mapping or viewing a system or a problem. They are frameworks that help explain what’s going on, and predict what’s likely to happen next.

Model thinking is an excellent way of improving our cognition and decision making abilities. Thinking in models helps us understand how new concepts fit with older observations, and what theories and metaphors are likely to endure.

I will continue to add to this list over time as well as fill in the number of holes that remain in the set. Learning about new mental models is one of my favorite activities — it’s the closest thing to a superpower I can think of.

TermTypeTopicDefinition
80/20 ruleModelEconomicsAlso known as a power law, or the Pareto Principle
absolute advantage
absolute valueTermMaththe value of a function irrespective of its sign (positive or negative)
accessibilityPsychologyHow easy something is to call to mind
acquittalLegal precedent
activation energyTermScienceA chemistry term that describes the minimum energy required for a chemical system to react
adverse selection
a fortiori
akrasiaTermA state of mind where someone acts against their own better judgment due to weakness of will.
alea iacta estMetaphorMetaphorIn Latin, "the die is cast" -- attributed to Julius Caesar as he crossed the river Rubicon, leading an attack on Rome: a metaphor for a point of no return
allocationMethodEconomics
"All the world's a stageโ€œMetaphorArtsShakespearean metaphor likening culture to a theatrical performance: "And all the men and women merely players;They have their exits and their entrances ..."โ€”William Shakespeare, As You Like It
Amara's LawTheoryScience & TechnologyWe tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run
annuityTermEconomicsa series of regular payments
antifragilityModelEconomicswhen something grows stronger under stress; when there is more upside to downside of experiencing a shock to the system
antimatterTheoryScience & Technology
a prioriPhilosophy
arbitrageModelEconomics
archetypesSymbolPhilosophyAn ideal type; a model after which others are fashioned.
arrow of timeScience & Technology
artificia docuit famesAncient WisdomPhilosophyLatin saying meaning, "sophistication is born out of hunger" -- a metaphor for innovation and genius being awakened by challenge, difficulty, and constraints
ASCIITermScience & TechnologyAmerican Standard Code for Information Interchange: a standard character translation table used by computers to convert numerical representations into printable characters
asking a fish about waterMetaphorMetaphor
astroturfingMethod
asymmetric encryptionTerm
asymptotesTermMathA line is approaching a limit, but never quite reaches it.
autophagy
availability biasModelPsychology
averagesMethodMatha measure of central tendency of a set of data, whether the mean, media, or mode
balance sheetMethodEconomics
balancing loopSystems theory
Baldwin EffectModelScience & TechnologyAs organisms learn to shape their environment, they can alter the path of evolution. For example, with the advent of dairy farming, selection pressures began favoring lactose absorption genes in humans.
bank reservesEconomics
bank runEconomics
base conversionMath
Base Rate FallacyPsychology
base weighting
Bayes' TheoremMethodMathan algebraic method of determining the updated probability of a certain event or case, given new information
bend the kneeMetaphorSocial psychology
betaEconomicsIn finance, a term that refers to investments tracking the broad market performance of an exchange or industry sector
The Big BangTermScience & TechnologyThe massive explosion which spawned our entire universe, back at the beginning of time.
The Big CrunchTheory
binary numbersTermMath
binomial distributionTermStatistics
Binomial TheoremTheoryMath
black holeTheoryPhysics
Black-Scholes modelModelEconomics
Black SwanModelEconomics
blockchainTermScience & Technology
boiling frogMetaphorPhilosophyA metaphor for the common occurence of slow, gradual changes over time not being noticed, like the (contested) legend of a scienfitic experiment that boileg a frog alive by starting with tepid water and slowly turning up the temperature.
bondEconomics
Boyle's Law
boundary object
bounded rationalityPsychologyA central challenge to the c. 1776 ideas of Adam Smith regarding the Invisible Hand of markets, this 20th c. psychological theory posits that rather than making optimized rational decisions, at most times the average person is "satisficing" or making the most expedient choice under considerable constraints and lack of available information
bricolageMethodArtsCombination of many types and forms into one piece; a pastiche or mashup of style and cultural referents
broken windows theoryTheoryLaw
Butterfly EffectModelScience & Technology
bystander effectSocial psychology
cadenceArts
camel's nosePhilosophya metaphor describing how allowing a smaller innocuous act may lead to larger acts that are undesirable
capital gainsEconomicsMoney that is earned as a result of a stock investment appreciating in value โ€” the capital "gains in value"
capital requirementsEconomicsActual cash on hand for banks to theoretically offer at a given time, with the rest lended out as leverage
carbon-14Science & Technology
carbon datingScience & TechnologyA way to scientifically determine the age of an object
carpe diemPhilosophyin Latin, "seize the day" -- a reference often used to motivate oneself and others to act boldly and live vigorously in the moment
cartelEconomics
catalystScience & Technology
categorical dataStatistics
causa-sui projectPsychology
cellular automataMath
central limit theoremStatistics
central tendencyStatistics a measure of the midpoint of a data set; includes mean, median, and mode
ceteris paribusEconomics"all other things being equal"; holding the effects of other variables constant to determine the effects on a single variable of interest
charge preservationScience & Technology
charlatanPsychologyone who aspires to wealth &/or fame through trickery and deception
Chesterton's FenceMetaphor
chilling effectHistory
cognitive biasPsychology
collapseSystems theory
comparative advantageEconomics
composite eventsStatisticsin probability
compound interestEconomics
conditionalsMath
Condorcet Jury TheoremStatistics
confidence intervalStatisticsthe range of values over which a predicted outcome may lie; the amount of certainty one has about the predicted value falling within the estimated range
confirmation biasPsychology
conflationPsychology
consent of the governedPoliticsConcept of political philosophy in which a government's legitimacy and right to use state power is only justified if consented to by the people over whom said power is wielded.
consequentialismPhilosophy
constraintsMath
Consumer Sentiment IndexEconomics
continuous vs. discrete variablesStatistics
Copernican theory of the solar systemScience & Technology
correlationStatistics
correlation coefficientStatistics
cosineMath
counterfactual
countervailing powerEconomicsEconomist John Kenneth Galbraith's concept for how collective worker power is needed to balance against growing corporatism in the economy
creative destructionEconomics Economist Joseph Shumpeter's idea for how the business cycle works: by innovation disrupting established processes and industries and forcing change into markets, often destructively and swiftly
credo quia absurdum"I believe because it is absurd" โ€” Tertullian's defense of belief in the miracles attributed to Christ
critical massScience & Technology
crossing the RubiconMetaphorHistoryMaking a decision from which there is no turning back; a reference to Julius Caesar's overthrow of the Roman republic to found the Roman Empire in 49 BCE
cross-sectional dataMath
crowdfundingEconomics
crowdsourcingSystems theory
cryptocurrencyEconomics
dead hand of the pastHistoryProblem inherent in constitutional political philosophy, where eventually a people becomes ruled by "masters" no longer alive, who rule by "fiat" via a document, from beyond the grave (Thomas Jefferson's concept)
death spiral
decision theorySystems theory
decision treeSystems theory
de minimisLaw
depreciationEconomics
derivativesMath
diminshing marginal utility (DMU)Economics
directory structureComputers
dispersionStatisticsthe amount of variation within a set of data; how spread out the data points are from each other
distributionsStatistics
divergent thinkingPsychology
diversity
Diversity Prediction Theorem
dividend paymentsEconomicsPeriodic, usually quarterly, payouts to stockholders of the company when posting profits. Along with capital gains, one of the 2 primary reasons to invest in stocks.
Dodd-Frank Act of 2010Economicsdefinitive financial regulation of the financial industry following the 2007-8 financial crisis
domain dependence
double helix
doxaSocial psychologycommon belief or opinion
Drake EquationScience & Technology1961 estimation of the number of technological civilizations that might exist in the universe, conceived by Dr. Frank Drake
dualismPhilosophy
Dunbar numberPsychology
Dunning-Kruger EffectPsychologyA cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as higher than it actually is, because they cannot recognize their incompetence in comparison to others.
Duverger's LawPoliticsHolds that plurality-rule elections within single member districts โ€” such as the structure found in the U.S. โ€” tend to favor two-party systems
economies of scaleEconomics
edge case
elasticity; price elasticityEconomicsthe ability of pricing mechanisms to respond quickly or less quickly to changes in prevailing conditions
elasticity of demand
elasticity of supply
electromagnetic spectrumScience & Technology
electron cloudScience & Technologyrefers to the true nature of an electron's existence around an atom, wherein its location in space is not a definite point, but a fuzzy region of probable occurence
elephants and fliesEconomicssales concept to quickly segment leads into size buckets, from elephants > deers > rabbits > mice > flies
elephant and riderPsychology psychological idea about how our unconscious and semi-conscious desires dominate us, but can be directed by reason (Jonathan Haidt et al)
embargo
emperor's new clothes
encryptionMath
ensemble learningScience & Technology
epistemologyPhilosophy
e pluribus unumPoliticsLatin: "one out of many" โ€” one of several phrases on the American dollar bill, it refers to the unity of the nation as made up of its many peoples and as such, signifies the republic.
equilibriumScience & Technology
equityEconomics
equity crowdfundingEconomics
error-embracingPsychology
event horizonPhysics
exception handling
exchange ratesEconomicsThe value of one country's currency as measured against another
existentialism
exit strategyEconomics
externalitiesEconomics
extrapolationStatistics
factorialMath
factum tacendo, crimen facias acriusPhilosophyHe who does not stop a crime is an accomplice.
fact /value problemPhilosophy
fake newsMedia
false positivesScience & Technology
false consensus effectSocial psychology
falsifiabilityScience & Technologyability to be proven untrue; a requirement for a theory to be called scientific
Feynman TechniqueScience & TechnologyA method of learning and remembering difficult concepts by simplifying them until you can explain it to a new student or layperson who knows nothing about that concept.
fiat money
fiduciary dutyEconomics
fifth columnPoliticsa group who unites in secret to undermine a larger group from within
file systemMetaphorComputers
filter bubbleMetaphorSocial psychology
first principlesPhilosophy
fishing expeditionMetaphor
fitness functionTermScience & Technologyin AI, refers to a set of selection criteria applied to a set of potential solutions to a problem to allow only the better candidates to survive to the next generation
flรขneurTermArts
force multiplierScience & Technology
fractalsMath
fractional reserve bankingMethodEconomics
fractionsTermMath
fragilityPhilosophy
framingPsychology
free tradeMethodEconomics
free willPhilosophyPhilosophy
freshwater vs. saltwater economistsEconomics
Friend of the Court filingLaw
FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt)Social psychology
fundamental attribution errorPsychology
future valueEconomics
gainTermArtsin audio recording, a control that allows more or less of the source sound into the channel being recorded
game theoryMath
Gates' LawTheoryPhilosophythe idea that software development speed halves every 18 months, negating the acceleratory effects of Moore's Law and preventing computing from leaping greatly forward
Gaussian distributionTermStatisticsthe Normal distribution
GDP (Gross Domestic Product)ModelEconomicsthe sum of all public and private goods produced within a given period; a measure of a country's economic health
generalists and specialistsPhilosophy
genetic algorithmsScience & Technologyan approach to AI based on evolutionary models, in which multiple candidate solutions to a problem are generated randomly by mutation and recombination, then iterated over thousands of generations through fitness functions to weed out the best of each generation
germ theory of disease
Gettier problemPhilosophy
GOFAIScience & Technology"Good Old-Fashioned Artificial Intelligence" โ€” reference to the style and general algorithmic approach of early artificial intelligence work, which fell out of popularity over the decades in favor of more organic neural net and evolutionary approaches
Golden calf
Golden MeanTheoryPhilosophyAristotelian theory of an ideal balance point between the many extremes we face in life; he advocated harmony between the various spheres of life for an experience of happiness
Golden RuleAncient Wisdom"Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you" is the essence of this ancient wisdom, often used as a shorthand version of Jesus's core teaching.
Goldilocks ZoneModel
gold standardLegal precedent
gravity wavesPhysics
habeas corpusLegal precedentLaw
habitusSocial psychology
Hanlon's RazorModelPhilosophynever attribute to malice what is adequately described by carelessness
hard determinismPhilosophy
harmonicsArts
hearts and mindsPolitics
hedge fundsEconomics
hedonismPhilosophyPhilosophy
Heisenberg Uncertainty PrincipleTheoryScience & Technology
hexadecimal numbersTermMathbase 6
heuristicsPsychologyMental shortcuts that we do as a matter of routine, especially when we're stressed or under other types of cognitive constraints.
hormesisScience & TechnologyWhen a small dose of a toxic substance is actually beneficial to the living thing that ingests it
hydraMetaphor
iatrogenicsHealthharm done by the healer
ice core datingScience & Technology
id, ego, superegoModelPsychologyFreud's psychological model of the conscious and unconscious mind.
implicit costEconomics
Imposter SyndromeModelPsychologyA psychological pattern in which one doubts their own accomplishments and has a generalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.
index number; indexingStatistics
inferior goodsEconomics
inflationEconomics
inflection pointMathThe point of a curve at which a change in the direction of the curve occurs.
interestEconomics
interest rateEconomics
internal rate of return (IRR)Economics
Internet of Things (IoT)TermScience & Technology
intersectionMath
interventionismSocial psychology
IP addressesTermScience & Technology
iron law of oligarchyTheoryPoliticsPolitical theory positing that no matter how democratic a group may start out, over time it will develop into a bureaucracy ruled by a small handful
It from BitTheoryPhysicsJohn Wheeler's theory about the fundamental informational nature of the universe
Keynesian economicsTheoryEconomics
Keynesian PutModelEconomics
Kronos EffectModelEconomicsthe tendency of a successful corporation to seek to acquire and/or drive its upstart competitors out of business
Laffer CurveTheoryEconomics
law of excluded middle
Law of Large NumbersScientific LawMathAs the number of coin tosses approaches infinity, the number of heads encountered will converge on 0.5; helpful in calculations of probability.
least-barricaded gateMetaphorPoliticsTrotsky's metaphor of how social revolutions can take hold more easily in already weakened societies
lecturing birds how to flyMetaphorMetaphor
length contractionModelPhysics
less is morePhilosophyMetaphor
L'etat c'est moiPhilosophyPolitics"I am the stateโ€œ
leverageEconomics
lifeboat ethicsPhilosophyPhilosophy
light-weight processComputers
limit of a functionTermMath if the graph of an equation seems to approach a numerical value but never quite reaches it, we say that number is the limit of the function (approaching from the negative or positive direction; sometimes directionality is important)
limiting factorSystems theory
linear regressionMethodMath
liquidityEconomics
local minModelSystems theoryidea that to grow out of a stasis or plateau, you likely have to endure a period of "setback" that is a lower dip or minimum value from where you are now, but is what's required to get over the activation energy to reach the next level
locus of control
logarithmMath
logical fallaciesPhilosophy
long tailTheoryStatisticsIn a power law distribution (of population, ages, items, etc.), the region of the graph that tapers off quickly after the initial segment of high data points
loss aversionPsychology
Lost EinsteinsTheoryhttp://doctorparadox.net/models/lost-einsteins/
loyalists and mercenariesSystems theory
maker's time and manager's timeModelSystems theory
M1Economics
M2Economics
mandalaAncient WisdomReligionIntrocate and elaborate patterns created with colored sand by Buddhist monks, who blow away their creations at the end to signify their celebration of impermanence.
ManichaeanPhilosophya narrowly-defined dualistic worldview of good against evil
man on horsebackMetaphorSynonym for a demagogue. Comes from French general Georges Ernest Boulanger, and refers to a military leader who presents himself as the savior of the country during a crisis and either assumes or threatens to assume dictatorial powers.
map is not the territoryMetaphorMetaphor
margin of errorStatistics
marginal benefitEconomics
marginal costEconomics
marginal returnsEconomics
marginal utilityEconomics
market shareEconomics
Markov chainTermMath
Maslow's Hierarchy of needsModelPsychology
meanTermStatisticsthe average value of the numbers in a data set; take the sum of all values and divide by the total number of values in the set
medianTermStatistics
Median Voter TheoremTheoryPolitics
megalopsychonPhilosophyPhilosophyConcept in Aristotelian ethics of living with grandeur and taking risks with dignity; being nonsmall
mens reaLegal precedentLaw"guilty mind" โ€” establishing the intent of a perp can help to establish criminal liability
mercantilismTheoryEconomics
meritocracyModelSystems theory
metaphysicsPhilosophyPhilosophy
mirror neurons
modeTermStatistics
monopolyEconomicsMarket condition in which there exists only one seller of a resource
monopsonyEconomicsMarket condition in which there exists only one buyer of a resource
Moore's LawTheoryScience & TechnologyNamed after Gordon Moore, the model predicts the doubling of transistors on a circuit of equivalent size every 18 months to 2 years. This has many consequences for both technology and economics, including the predictable drop in price of generating the same amount of computing power each period.
moral hazardEconomicswhen one party takes on additional risk, knowing that other parties will bear the brunt of the risk in event of a loss
Moravec's Paradox
MVP (minimum viable product)TermEconomics
naive cynicismPsychologyState of mind in which people believe others to have more egocentric bias than is warranted or is actually the case.
Nash EquilibriumTheoryMath
nasty, brutish, and shortAncient WisdomPhilosophy
natural lawsScience & Technology
natural selectionScientific LawScience & Technology
necessity is the mother of inventionCommon WisdomMyth/Metaphor
negative externalitiesEconomics
neomaniaSocial psychologylove of the modern for its own sake
neural netTermScience & Technology
net present value (NPV)ModelEconomics
neuroplasticityScience & Technology
Newton's first lawScientific LawPhysicsan object in motion will stay in motion, unless acted upon by a force
Newton's second lawScientific LawPhysicsF = ma, or an object of mass m feeling a force F will accelerate by an amount a
nodesTermMath
noosphereData scienceSphere of human thought โ€” all interacting minds on earth. An early 1900s concept from Teilhard de Chardin
nominal figuresEconomics
nonlinearityMath
Normal distributionScientific LawStatistics
normal goodsEconomics
normalized weighted averageStatistics
normative and descriptivePhilosophy
noumenaPhilosophy
novus ordo seclorumSymbolGovernmentA new order for the ages; Latin phrase seen on the dollar bill
null hypothesisMethodScience
observer effectScience
Ockham's RazorTheoryPhilosophyA philosophical rule of thumb that favors the simplest explanation. Also known as the "law of parsimony"
octal numbersMathbase 8
oligopolyEconomics
omphalosPolitics
opportunity costModelEconomicsWhat you miss out on by using a resource in a certain way -- what you would have done with the resource otherwise; what alternative use you would have put it to.
optionsEconomics
orders of magnitudeScientific LawMath
ordinally ranked dataStatistics
organizational debtEconomics
oscillationsScience
out-group biasSocial psychology
outlierModelStatistics
paradoxModel
paragonModelCultureA standard against which something can be judged โ€” an exemplar example of a thing
path dependent
pax RomanaHistory
pearls before swineMetaphorMyth/Metaphor
P/E RatioEconomicsPrice to earnings ratio: standard measure of relative stock performance
permutationsMath
Peter PrincipleTheorySystems theory
phase shiftScience
philosopher kings
Philosopher's StoneUnsolved Mystery
phonemes
plant a seedMetaphor
Platonic forms
PlatonicityPhilosophyadherence to crisp abstract theory & forms that blind us to the mess of actual reality
Plato's CaveModelPhilosophyallegory in The Republic about a cave dweller whose only picture of reality is the shadow on the cave wall thrown by the fire
pluralismGovernment
point of no returnMyth/Metaphor
pollingStatistics
Pollyanna PrincipleModelPsychologytendency for people to remember pleasant events more accurately than unpleasant ones
populismGovernment
positronPhysicsan antimatter electron
Potemkin Village EffectModelSystems theorytendency of systems to create the appearance of functioning normally โ€” to appease the operators who wish it so โ€” even when they are not
precisionMath
present valueEconomicsthe expected current value of an income stream
price ceilingEconomics
price floorEconomics
prima facie
principle of indifferenceStatisticsin probability, when there is no basis to choose some outcomes as more likely than others, they are given equal weight (1/2 chance of a particular side of a coin, 1/52 to get a particular card from a deck, etc.)
prisoner's dilemmaMath
private equity (PE)Economics
probabilityMath
probability distributionStatistics
Procrustean bedPhilosophy
profitEconomics
propagandaSocial psychologyoriginally, a way to "propagate" any idea; used by both sides in WWI, it thereafter took on a sinister connotation when American & British citizens felt hoodwinked by their govt's use of it
proper framePhysicsin physics, the frame of reference that accelerates with you and determines your age
proportionalityMath
prospect theoryPsychology
proximate cause
proxy warPolitics
pseudoscience
PTSDPsychology
punctuated equilibriumScience & Technology
Pygmalian EffectSocial psychology
Pyrrhic victoryMyth/Metaphor
quantum computingScience
qubitScience
quid pro quoLaw
quota
r > qThomas Piketty's elegant demonstration of the rise of inequality
random walksMath
rangeStatisticsin a set of numbers, the difference between the highest value and the lowest value in the data set
rara avisMyth/Metaphor"rare bird" in Latin
rate of returnEconomics
realismPhilosophy
recursionMath
red shiftPhysics
reductio ad absurdoPhilosophycollapsing things too far, in a way that destroys real significance
reductio ad finemPhilosophyTo analyze to the end โ€” break the concept down into its conponent parts.
redundancySystems theoryhaving multiple pathways within a system to accomplish the same task or achieve the same objective
reference framePhysicsa frame that does not accelerate; also known as a Lorentz frame
regnat populus
regression analysisStatistics
reincarnationReligion
reinforcing loopSystems theory
relativityPhysicsEinstein's central insight that the experience or perceived passage of time depends greatly on the conditions of the observer, particularly with respect to velocity and gravity
resilienceSystems theoryability to bounce back into shape after having been pressed or stretched; elasticity. The ability to recover quickly.
respice finem"consider that you will die" โ€” i.e. live life as you would in order to be proud of it by the time it's over
res publicaGovernmentpertaining to the state
retrodiction
revenueEconomics
riskEconomics
risk-weighted assets (RWAs)Economics
root cause
roundingMath
rounding errorMath
run on the bank
samplingStatistics
samsaraReligion
scarcityEconomics
Schelling's Tipping Model
search intentMedia
second-order thinking
selection biasPsychology
self-governance
set theoryMath
ship of TheseusMyth/Metaphor
SIFIEconomicssystemically important financial institution; post-2008 financial crisis designation for banks deemed "too big to fail" (currently, firms holding more than $50b in assets)
sigmaStatisticsstandard deviation, named for the Greek letter denoting the statistical term
signal pathPhysics
significant figuresMathaka "sig figs"
simulationPhilosophy
sineTermMath
sine waveTermPhysics
singularityTheoryPhysics
SIR modelSciencecontagious disease modelling based on possible patient states (susceptible, infected, recovered)
site navigationMethodMedia
six degrees of separationTheoryStatistics
six sigmaMethodMotorola-originated concept of ensuring quality control to a very fine point, by ensuring that parts or other production outputs are manufactured to be within a certain quality range up to 6 times the standard deviation.
situational preparedness
squaring the circleUnsolved MysteryA notorious philosophical problem first posed by Plato, the phrase has come to be used to allude to the grandiosity and infeasibility of someone's plans.
skewStatistics
skin in the gameEconomics
slope of a lineMath
social contractPhilosophyProfoundly impactful document in political philosophy from Jean Jacques Rousseau in 18th c. France, refuting the rights of monarchs to rule the people
Socratic methodMethodPhilosophyTechnique of instruction or conversation where the teacher or moderator proceeds by asking the student or pupil a serious of questions, enticing her or him to come up with their own answers to the issues related to the subject at hand.
solipsism
sortingMath
speech act theoryTheoryPhilosophyBritish philosopher J.L.Austin's concept that all uses of speech carry a performative aspect
speed of light (c)Physicsapprox. 300 million meters per second
Single point of failure (SPoF)TermA part of a system that, when it fails, brings down the entire rest of the system or stops it from working properly
spreadStatistics
standard deviationStatistics
standing wavesTerm
stare decisisLegal precedentLaw"it has been decided" โ€” terminology used by a judge or court to indicate that the matter before them has already been decided by a previous ruling
status quoCulture
stochastic terrorismTermSocial psychology
stocks and flowsModelSystems theory
StoicismAncient WisdomPhilosophy
Streisand EffectMetaphorSocial psychologywhen the act of attempting to hide information only makes it more prominently spread, especially via the Internet
strict father moralityGeorge Lakoff's terminology to describe the conservative worldview
strict liabilityLawcrimes which have no mens rea requirement, such as rear-ending of another vehicle (where it is always the rear-enders' fault no matter what the circumstances
subsidyEconomics
success to the successfulSystems theoryreinforcing loop within complex system โ€” especially economies โ€” wherein the spoils of victory include the means to alter the rules of the game further in the favor of the previous winners
summum malumAncient WisdomPoliticsultimate evil โ€” some posit cruelty as this ultimate evil
supply and demandModelEconomics
supply chainTermEconomics
sword of DamoclesMetaphor
symmetric encryptionTerm
tabula rasaBlank slate
tachyonPhysicshypothetical particle that travels faster than the speed of light
tangentMath
tariff
tempus edax rerumAncient WisdomArts"Time devours everything." โ€” Ovid
tempus fugitAncient WisdomTime flies
tempus neminem manetAncient Wisdomtime waits for no man
Third StoryPhilosophythe story an impartial third-party observer might tell; a version of events any unbiased person could agree on
Thucydides Trap
tilting at windmillsMetaphorArtsA reference to the novel Don Quixote, denoting the ongoing pursuit of useless attacks against an implacable enemy
time dilationThought ExperimentPhysics
time series dataStatistics
time value of moneyTheoryEconomics
tipping pointModelSystems theory
too many cooks in the kitchenMetaphor
touchstoneMetaphorMyth/MetaphorA black stone once used to judge the purity of gold or silver โ€” now signifying a standard against which something should be judged.
trade-offsModelEconomics
tragedy of the commonsTheorySystems theory
transitivityTermMath
trolly problemThought ExperimentPhilosophy
turtles all the way downTheoryPhilosophy
twin paradoxThought ExperimentPhysics
tyranny of choiceTheorySystems theory
UnicodeTermComputers
unionTermMath
universal lawPhilosophyPhilosophy
usuryTermEconomicsthe act of charging interest on borrowed money; for thousands of years there have been religous proscriptions against lending money with interest in various societies
utilityPhilosophy
varianceTermStatistics
Veil of IgnoranceModelPhilosophyPhilosopher John Rawls' model for making better ethical decisions, in which the decider chooses a course of action based on the predicate that s/he will not know which of the groups or persons affected by the decision they personally would be. This method creates natural incentives to find the fairest outcome for all groups, since the decider doesn't know which group they will "end up in" on the other side of the decision.
Venn diagramModelStatistics
via negativaPhilosophyindirect description of a thing by describing what that thing is not
Volcker ruleLegal precedentEconomicsfinancial rule preventing consumer lending banks from speculative trading in securities for their own profit
wave functionPhysics
wave-particle dualityTheoryPhysics
wheel of lifeSymbolReligion
when life gives you lemonsMetaphorPhilosophyYou try to make lemonade! Another way of saying, "let's try and make the best of this unfortunate situation."
winner-take-all marketEconomics
wisdom of crowdsModelSocial psychologyderived from the Diversity Prediction Theorem: the average prediction of a group of individuals will be more accurate than the prediction of one average member
wolves and sheepMetaphorPhilosophy
wormholeTheoryPhysics
worst case scenarioModelMyth/Metaphor
zero sum gameModelMath
z scoreTermStatistics

๐Ÿ“ˆ Data Sets ๐Ÿ“Š

Data literacy is the newest frontier. The world of information has a pale twin universe of disinformation, deep fakes, fake news, and true believers — keeping track of reality will become more and more important and valuable into the future.

RussiaGate: Russian hacking of the 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2022 US elections

The Thinkery

See also: Dictionaries

Right-wing populism around the world

It’s not just here at home that fascism seems to have taken root in the population. There are many burgeoning nationalist movements resurrecting right-wing populism around the world, and as per many experts’ warnings, authoritarianism is on the rise around the globe.

Many of the right-wing populist thatches that have sprung up are at least in part, seeds planted by Vladimir Putin in his quest for Russian revanchism against the West following the end (or so we thought…) of the Cold War. Rumoured to be the richest man in the world by far, the former KGB agent was working in East Germany when the Berlin Wall fell, and has been pursuing his Lost Cause grievance ever since.

Given how seemingly easy it is for Charles Koch to buy American elections as the 15th richest person in the world, imagine what someone far wealthier could accomplish. Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France took campaign cash directly from The Kremlin, Viktor Orban’s Hungary is Putin’s strongest ally in the EU, and the UK’s Brexit campaign acted as the canary in the coalmine for later disgraceful invasions of other nations’ sovereignty — perhaps most notably, election interference in the 2016, 2018, and 2020 US elections.

As such, it would be foolish not to see what’s happening here in America as part of a broader wave of right-wing populism and authoritarian fever that is very dangerous. We need to find out a lot more information about how all these puzzle pieces fit together, and get to the bottom of the real conspiracy clearly going on — if we can find it through all these smokescreen conspiracy theories clogging the propaganda waves.

CountryFlagPartyAbbreviation
Austria๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡นFreedom PartyFPO
Belgium๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ชFlemish BlockVB
Britain๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡งUK Independence PartyUKIP
Britain First
National Front
Czech RepublicFreedom and Direct DemocracySPD
Denmark๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐDanish People's PartyDPP
Finland๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎTrue Finns
France๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ทNational FrontFN
Germany๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ชAlternative for GermanyAfD
Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the WestPegida
Greece๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ทSyriza
Hungary๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บMovement for a Better HungaryJobbik
Fidesz
Italy๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡นNorthern League
National Alliance
Japan๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ตNippon Kaigi
The Netherlands๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑParty for FreedomPPV
Liveable Netherlands
Pim Fortuyn's ListLPF
Norway๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ดProgress Party
The Philippines๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ญ
Poland๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑLaw and Justice party
Portugal๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡นPopular Party
SerbiaSerbian Radical PartySRS
Spain๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ(Catalonian secession)
Sweden๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ชSweden Democrats
Switzerland๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญSwiss People's PartySVP
United States๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธRepublican PartyGOP

Tulsa Race Massacre

On May 31, 1921, a mob of murderous whites descended on the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma dubbed Black Wall Street, and razed it to the ground. They dropped homemade bombs in the first ever domestic aerial attack on American soil, during the Tulsa Race Massacre following the end of World War I.

Over three hundred Blacks were murdered and hastily buried or burned. Police and other state officials were complicit; no one was ever charged for the crimes and insurance companies refused to honor Black business owner’s claims from the destruction of their livelihood and senseless slaughter of their friends, families, and community. A generation of wealth was wiped out overnight, with deep economic repercussions passing down to ensuing descendants.

Whitewashing, literally

The Confederates managed to memory hole the Tulsa Race Massacre event clean out of history for the most part, until the 100-year anniversary of the event — arriving at a time of perhaps maximum racial polarization and most extreme partisanship in this country since the civil rights era. Nor is it the only example of mass murder and destruction of Black property and assets — there are plenty others we’ve never heard about in school. That’s why it’s so important to bear witness, and to remember, and to tell and retell the stories of our past — even the painful ones. Especially the painful ones.