Sunday, October 14, 2012

How to Be Smart in a Stupid World

  • Before making a decision, even a small one, ask yourself, "What's the risk/reward or cost/benefit of each option?"
  • Draw your political perspectives from the likes of Tom Friedman, David Gergen, and Charles Krauthammer not from entertainers, for example, Jon Stewart, Dennis Miller, or Stephen Colbert, let alone Angelina Jolie, Adam Sandler, or Bono.
  • Patronize The Economist, The PBS News Hour, CSpan, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal rather than TimeThe Daily Beast, Cable Network TV News, or the Huffington Post, let alone floggers (no it's not a typo) such as the Daily Kos or Daily Caller
  • Prefer people who have developed intelligently derived views from both liberal and conservative perspectives rather than people who are liberal or conservative on everything.
  • Draw your beliefs more from non-fiction, for example, good biographies or books on leadership than from fiction: novels, movies, and plays. Fiction creators are artists. I don't believe it's wise to form one's views based disproportionately on artists' input.


Anonymous said...

Bless you.

Maria Lopez said...

Many of these make sense to me but meritocracy has definite limits. Both because once someone has money even money they didn't earn they tend be seen by themselves and some others as meriting it even when they don't.

Also pure meritocracy seems to suggest the absurd and impossible practice of taking money from people because they no longer are capable of doing what they did to earn it.

Finally, I'm not convinced that it is better for people who can't earn money due to some malfunction of their bodies shouldn't be cared for by the state.

Because of these three problems I'm convinced pure meritocracy is neither possible or desirable and some level of redistribution should be practiced.

I also think work-life balance is worthwhile. First because for non-entrepreneurial people, it is often not a choice between working and relaxing but between working to accomplish your bosses goals and working to accomplish your own. Also, while one can obviously go overboard with sex, food, or drugs, with in limits it is okay to provide yourself with pleasure. While I'm in favor of a limited degree redistribution, my attitude toward puritanism is influenced by Ayn Rand.

Marty Nemko said...

My definition of meritocracy doesn't mean that the state shouldn't help a poor person who cannot be self-sustaining. It mainly refers to selecting people for college or employment based on merit, not attempts to "level the playing field" with near-quotas.

I agree that productivity needn't be defined as "what the boss needs." Certainly, one can be more productive pursuing goals that are your own rather than your employers. My concern is with the many people who fritter so much time on watching TV, playing video games, chatting with friends, dancing, and playing recreational sports.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marty:

As always, another gem.

Some more I'd add:

When it comes to healthcare, put more of your trust in mainstream medicine than alternative medicine, while keeping in mind that neither school of thought has all the answers.

When choosing friends and romantic partners, focus less on "coolness," looks, and popularity and more on personality and intellect.

Get your education/training from master practitioners in the discipline in which you seek education/training, not academicians.

Fight against and vote against attempts to transfer resources from those with the greatest potential to benefit to those with the greatest deficit.

-Your reader in Pennsylvania

Marty Nemko said...

Excellent additions, Reader in PA.

Matt said...

I'm curious to know what you mean about prioritizing productivity over work-life balance.

Marty Nemko said...


Perhaps I can best explain by an example. Imagine there were two cardiologists. One chose to work 40 hours a week so s/he could have good work-life balance: lots of golf, hanging out, watching TV, going shopping, going to day spas, etc. The other chose to work 60 hours a week, so more people could see their cardiologist without having to wait so long. I'd argue that the latter was a wiser cardiologist--recognizing that he would do far more good in his life, and--contrary to the work-life balance advocates--would not be less effective, or more likely to burn out.

Dan said...

"•Practice secular humanism rather than religion."

Not classy to toss religion into your argument. In any case, I would say that basing one's worldview on how to appear smart to Marty Nemko is the height of foolishness.

In any case, I found that without some faith, life was limitlessly depressing.

Further, most nations I can think of where faith is dying are enervated, cold and dying. Some are intellectual and prosperous, but few are vital and most have their best years behind them.


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