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Circle of Competence Issue #112


"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." - Oscar Wilde



If I told you what I believed to be Truth, would you believe me?

It depends.

Do your religious beliefs align with mine? How about your political views? Economic philosophy?

I find it ironic that as the internet has proliferated and penetrated society, instead of a 'marketplace of ideas' fostering healthy debate and pushing us towards a greater knowledge of what is likely true, we attack the merit of people instead of the merit of their ideas.

Likewise, unfortunately, people tend to identify themselves based on their beliefs and take personal offense at anyone who disagrees.

There are tribes for every debate. And each side hurls stones at the other side's people instead of their ideas. A few examples come to mind:

Democrat vs. Republican.

Keynesian vs. Austrian.

Fiat Currency vs. Hard Currency.

Value investing vs. Growth Investing.

God vs. No God.

No person wakes up with the intent to be a bad person. I truly believe that. Barring mental health issues, people tend to want to live their life in a coherent manner - meaning, they want to live congruent lives according to what they truly believe to be right and good.

The problem is, right and good are different for each tribe.

I do not want to believe, as Nietzsche said, that there are no facts, only interpretations. I refuse to believe this because it breaks down into relativistic beliefs - your 'truth' vs. my 'truth'.

But it certainly feels that way during times like these in America.

So how do you seek and find Truth? Here are a few principles that I have learned from others:

1. Groups search for consensus, individuals search for truth.

2. Strong ideas, loosely held. You do not have to be defined by your ideas, because they can be changed based on better logic, evidence, and understanding.

3. Do the work required to hold an opinion: Be able to articulate the other side's position better than the opposition can.

4. Explore the road less traveled.

These principles have worked for me in many areas of life.

What principles have worked for you?

Sci-Fi Detour

Go browse through Lux Capital's Investments page. It is straight out of a sci-fi novel. They recently invested in a company called Variant that is seeking to find the wildest, most outlandish outlier set of humans on the planet to sequence their genomes and hunt for clues to what causes these extremities.



Howard Marks' latest memo: Uncertainty II (Howard Marks)

Intro to how credit default swap auctions work (New York Federal Reserve)

Lessons from a trading great - Jim Leitner (Macro Ops)

The 'don't worry, make money' strategy of Baillie Gifford (Forbes)

Moats before (gross) margins (Andreessen Horowitz)


An invitation: the most outlier humans (Josh Wolfe)

Why remote work is so hard and how to fix it (Cal Newport)

The rise of TikTok and understanding its parent company, ByteDance (Turner Novak)

Behind the downfall of Luckin Coffee (WSJ)

Why Andreessen Horowitz believes so deeply in crypto (Fortune)


Beyond Hong Kong, an emboldened Xi Jinping pushes the boundaries (WSJ)


Could the pandemic redefine 'enough'? (Frank Martin)

How to overcome your fear of falling behind (Alex Hughes)

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