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The Beacon, FEE, Laissez-Faire, Lew Rockwell, Personal Liberty,
Reason, Scott Adams & Sex & The State. See our Sources

Photos Don’t Lie?

True story from five minutes ago.

Someone tweeted me an article showing photos of droughts and other natural disasters with the caption “Photos don’t lie.” I tweeted in response to the article, “On what planet do photos not lie?”

Sixty seconds later I see this photoshopped photo in my feed.

(I knew right away that it was fake because I don’t own a suit.)

How was it meeting our wonderful President, @ScottAdamsSays ?

— Jack Helsinger (@jackway2fast) March 16, 2017

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How to Leak Like a Master Persuader

After the hilarious Rachel Maddow face-plant on live television, with her scoop on President Trump’s 2005 taxes – all two pages of it – the big question in the news today is about who leaked it.

The worst punditry you will see on this question is coming from the people who say Trump couldn’t have leaked it himself because he wouldn’t leak it to a guy who has been his critic for many years.


The very best way to leak a tax return that makes you look good is by giving it to your worst critics so they can self-immolate on live television. Which is what happened.

I have no evidence that the leaked tax returns came from the Trump camp. But the alternative sounds ridiculous to me. I think the alternative hypothesis looks like this:

Trump critic: “Hee-hee! I stole two pages of Trump’s tax returns from 2005 that makes him look good. Wait until I show the world!”

I realize it is hard for President Trump’s critics to accept the idea that he is three steps ahead of them, and not practicing his goose-stepping in the White House bowling alley late at night while tweeting. But in this specific case, are there really two possibilities for how Trump’s tax returns got leaked?

Book. Because.

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Start-ups that Lower the Cost of Health Care

Most of the remaining problems in the world are information problems in disguise. For example, our politicians in the United States are trying to figure out how to provide health insurance to low-income people without breaking the budget. 

It looks impossible, at least with our political system as it stands. 

So I thought I would help. 

In my opinion, the only hope for affordable health care in the long run comes from startups that will dramatically lower the cost of medical services. There are many such healthcare startups in the pipeline, and some could make a big difference to society. As a public service, I’ll collect a list of them in this blog post so investors can see their options for helping the country lower the cost of medical care. 

I started the list with one start-up (Sandstone) that I happen to know because I invested in it. Any healthcare startup that lowers the cost of medical treatment is welcome to add their information to the list. To add your company, do this…

1. Go to and create a schedule with one entry for your company, using as your event date the year you went live with a commercial product, or the year you plan to do so. 

2. You can include any kind of documents, links, photos, or video to your one event. But please include at least a paragraph saying how your startup lowers healthcare costs.  

3. Share your schedule, with its one event, to this address: I’ll check it for completeness and add it to the list.

By the way, WhenHub – a start-up I co-founded – wasn’t designed for this sort of task, but I couldn’t think of an easier way to do it. I’ll use our new streaming feature to create one schedule (really just a list of start-ups) from the shared events. You’ll see the Whencast below grow as I add entries.

The nature of Whencasts is that you can share them on social media and embed them on blog pages. So if this list is useful, feel free to share it. Whencasts stay live and updated no matter where they travel.



I’m also imagining some sort of “digital doctor” healthcare insurance that is super-cheap and relies largely on startups that are not yet part of mainstream medicine. This low-cost insurance plan might be better (but slightly riskier) than traditional medical treatment. For example, if the low-cost insurance people get first access to IBM’s Watson for diagnosing problems, they are probably getting better treatment recommendations than the patients going to human doctors.

I can also imagine this low-cost health insurance plan asking patients to voluntarily give up more health-related privacy than normal, and perhaps agree to some sort of health tracking technology. The data from this group would help improve healthcare technology and treatment for all. 

We probably can’t tax-and-spend our way to universal healthcare. The numbers just don’t work. But startups could get us more options for serving low-income folks if we decide to make that a priority.

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The Survivor Bias in Climate Models

Here’s a link to a smart person who does a better job than I did at explaining the problems with climate models

I mentioned on social media a few times that I am using public persuasion to split the climate science debate into two parts. One part is the basic science, which appears credible. The other part is the climate models that are less credible. Watch for the climate science debate to start making that distinction more often. Historically, both sides have tended to conflate the credibility of all of the parts. That never made sense. 

This will get more fun when I introduce my new persuasion anchor. It seems to me that the actual damage from climate change is predicted not by climate models but by … economic models.

How accurate have economic models been in the past? For anything?

Now ask yourself how often you have seen that distinction – climate models versus economic models – called out. 

You’ll see a lot more of it soon. The High Ground Maneuver is powerful.

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Tracking My Persuasion

After 18 months of reading my blog posts about President Trump’s talents for persuasion, you might wonder how persuasive I am on my own. If you have already read my book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, check out this article in Business Insider to see an example of my influence. The author who talks about my ideas – exactly the way I talk about them – is named Adam Alter. 

(What were the odds of that???)

The article links to a third author’s work on systems being better than goals. Look for my influence in that author’s work too. 

I designed my book to be influential. If you reread it, look for the persuasion technique throughout. The book came out in 2013. Now you can see my systems-are-better-than-goals idea all over the place. You’ve probably also seen books and articles saying passion is overrated. That comes from my book as well. At this point, after a few years, authors are less likely to remember where they first saw these ideas, or what influenced them. The trail is growing cold.

Here’s another article that comes almost directly from my book without attribution. The author later clarified that he had read my book before writing his article. I doubt any of the authors I mention in this post were conscious of what influenced them.

All of this was predictable to me because I designed the book for maximum persuasion. I figured there was no point in writing a book about systems for success if I didn’t also make it “sticky,” so the thoughts would stay with people and be useful. 

I think most of you would be appalled to see your ideas come from other authors mouths without attribution. But I’m not, because I designed my book to influence people the way you are seeing it happen in real time. You are witnessing a feature, not a flaw. I prefer more imitation to less. These are powerful ideas that are worth spreading.


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Two More Movies on One Screen

Recently, one of my millions of critics left a message on social media about my writings on the topic of climate science. I pasted the critic’s comment below, as well as a response from a third party who explains to her that she is watching the wrong movie.

I present the exchange here as an example of how two people can look at the same screen and see completely different movies.

Your first reaction might be along the lines of thinking my critic is nuts, or has low reading comprehension. But neither is likely to be the case. The critic is (I assume) totally normal. This sort of hallucination happens to all of us on a regular basis. But we can only see it clearly when it happens to others. 

Don’t be smug that you can clearly see how deluded the critic is. The point is not about this one person. The point is that sometimes this one person is you. And me. No one is exempt. It’s just easier to see the phenomenon in others.

Here is the exchange.


“First of all, anyone who writes an article on climate science that starts it with “I don’t know much about science and even less about climate science” should not be taken seriously.

But then it is very much in vogue these days to flaunt your ignorance while railing against anyone who takes facts, science, and education seriously. They are just a bunch of elitists. His flippant, thinly reasoned but cutesy questions is one way to flaunt it I guess. But that does not a scientist make. He is the trump of scientists to use your analogy.”

Response from Chris Fusco:

“His article is about persuasion, not climate science. His blog is all about the science of persuasion and observations of persuasive technique.

“He is the trump of scientists to use your analogy.” He’s not a scientist, and doesn’t say he is. He says at the start “I don’t know much about science, and even less about climate science.” He clearly states “As a public service, and to save the planet, obviously, I will tell you what it would take to convince skeptics that climate science is a problem that we must fix.”

He says “climate scientists are the Hillary Clinton of scientists. They think facts and reason will persuade the public. Even though science knows that doesn’t generally work.” The science of persuasion demonstrates that people are most persuaded not by facts, but by emotions. He has argued in the past based on the science of persuasion that Trump didn’t win because of his command of facts or reason, but rather because of his ability to appeal to emotion to persuade people to vote for him while Hillary mainly tried to appeal to people using facts and reason.

The substance of your comment supports the premise. You were persuaded to comment based on emotion, making only emotional arguments, validating the point. You didn’t address his “thinly reasoned” arguments and refute them on their merits by disproving them using the “facts, science and education” you believe he is missing. Instead you said things like “But then it is very much in vogue these days to flaunt your ignorance while railing against anyone who takes facts, science, and education seriously. ” This is a emotionally persuasive straw man argument. The implication is that he is ignorant and rails against anyone who takes facts, science, and education seriously and you don’t. He never made that argument. His arguments were all about persuasion.

Saying “They are just a bunch of elitists. His flippant, thinly reasoned but cutesy questions is one way to flaunt it I guess,” instead of addressing his actual arguments, ironically, is a flippant, elitist emotional argument used for the purpose of persuasion. Berating someone, like shaming, is an emotionally coercive persuasion technique. It says “You are socially unacceptable to a class of people that are better than you.” The implication is “I’m better than you. You’re not good enough.” It tells the audience, “If you don’t agree with me you’re not good enough.” It’s not imbued with any grace, accountability or responsibility though. The accuser makes no actual effort to improve others. At best they’re just blowing off steam. At worst they are being emotionally coercive, which is a form of violence.

If you sincerely take facts, science and education seriously, you use them to inform and educate others, especially those who may have it wrong. You approach every argument as a dialogue – an opportunity to both teach and learn, testing the limits of your own knowledge and experience and measuring that of others. That’s what a scientist does. That’s what Scott did in his article. Hence, the “cutesy” questions. He doesn’t presume to understand or know it all.

Persuasion is not about informing and educating, it’s about influencing someone else to change THEIR behavior to accomplish YOUR goal. This is an important point. The evidence of one’s goal is in the substance of their technique. If you read the article, he uses logic and reasoning to support his arguments and statements. He was not trying to persuade his audience using emotional arguments, he was trying to educate them on persuasion. He wasn’t attacking scientists, science, climate science, or Hillary. He was critiquing, commenting and informing their ability to persuade.”

Do you think this explanation changed the critic’s mind?

I doubt it. The usual response to this situation is to change the topic.

Again, don’t be smug. You would change the topic too if someone shined a light on your cognitive dissonance. That’s just how it works.

Are you going to a major event sometime soon? You might want to bring the free WhenHub app with you so you can easily find your friends or family.

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Could Cognitive Scientists Eliminate ISIS?

In a word, yes, assuming they had lots of help from the CIA to deliver their persuasion.

I would not have said this was possible five years ago. But in 2017, cognitive scientists know how to reprogram a human brain fairly effectively. They have weaponized what hypnotists have been doing for decades. 

As luck would have it (sort of) we can test persuasion ideas at Guantanamo Bay without any cruelty whatsoever. There would be no hardcore “brainwashing,” just a series of pleasant experiences engineered to get a certain outcome.

The key to making all of this work is what businesses call A/B testing. The idea is that you rapidly test one approach after another until you get the best result.

I believe that current facial recognition technology can tell us how a subject is responding to a suggestion. When one approach works well, we don’t stop – we keep testing until we find the one that works best. And different approaches would work with different personality types. So we need a number of persuasion approaches. The A/B testing would be perpetual by design, so our results would improve over time. Once we can reliably reprogram the Guantanamo Bay prisoners, we take that weaponized persuasion to ISIS. 

Regular readers of this blog have seen me discuss lots of examples of persuasion at work. But you haven’t seen anything yet. Your opinion of free will will evaporate in the next few years. I had that experience when I trained to be a hypnotist. Once you see a subject’s brain get reprogrammed in real time, you never believe in free will again. That’ll happen to you within five years – you will see examples of brains being reprogrammed right in front of you. The science on how to do it is super strong now. It will be everywhere. And it is totally legal. We used to call it “marketing” when it didn’t work that well. This new stuff is something else. It works so well it makes your ethical alarms go off. 

I’ll make a prediction, just for fun: If President Trump orders the release of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners in 2-3 years, it won’t be as risky as you think.

You might enjoy reading my current book because I’m writing a new book and you never want to read the second book first.

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Income Inequality

Note: If you got here from the link in my tweet, I used “orange kitten” to thwart Twitter’s shadowban on me. 

Back in 2014 B.T. (Before Trump), the headlines were all about income inequality. I don’t recall hearing much of anything about immigration in the news. Then candidate Trump – the Master Persuader – told us that immigration was a big problem. Almost instantly the media started treating it like the biggest issue in the world. The public followed. And when Trump won, do you know how the experts who had been wrong about 100% of everything for a year explained it? They said President Trump won because he picked policies that people liked.

Well, not exactly.

What happened is that candidate Trump persuaded us that immigration was a big problem. And in so doing, he pushed the issue of income inequality off the page. Do you remember the last time you saw CNN obsessing about income inequality? I thought it was the public’s biggest issue two years ago. Did it just sort of stop being one?

No, President Trump is in our heads. He told us what our priorities were and we accepted it, even if we hated his plans. Some people think is it a priority to get tougher on immigration, some think the opposite. But we all agree the issue is important.

If you had asked me in 2014 to list my country’s top 10 problems, immigration would not have been on the list. Now it’s usually at the top of the news. Trump did that. And by doing it he showed us a level of leadership that I have never seen in my lifetime. Even if you don’t like where he is leading us.

But here’s the interesting part. If you want to address income inequality, what is one of the best ways to do it? Answer: Limit immigration. That means higher wages for American citizens and lower profits for the top 1% who want cheap labor.

I saw a factoid yesterday that illegal immigration from Mexico is way down lately, presumably in anticipation of the Trump administration being tough. That’s an indicator of rising wages to come. I suppose the top 1% can pass along the higher costs to some extent. But the jobless guy who gets a job won’t be too unhappy that his food is 10% more expensive. He still comes out ahead. And if the employer gets a Trump tax cut, she doesn’t need to pass along as much of the higher wage expense to consumers.

Speaking of jobs, if Trump’s job-creation hype evolves from anecdotal to real, that’s a great way to reduce income inequality too. As I have often said, economies run on psychology, and Trump is a master of psychology. He proved that already by injecting enough optimism into the system that it goosed the stock market, and business confidence in general. That should translate into more investments and a better economy.

The Trump administration also recently tightened their connection to historically black colleges to see how they can help. The best way to reduce income inequality is to address the hardest cases first, to get the most bang for the buck. And the African-American community is coming from the deepest hole. We see no results there yet, but the move makes sense from the perspective of addressing income inequality.

The Trump administration remains skeptical of climate change alarmism for now. Aggressive remediation would cost jobs, which would make income inequality worse. So Trump is on the right side of climate change when it comes to income inequality. But what if climate change is the disaster that most scientists believe it will be? What does that do to income inequality?

Well, my best guess is that the disruption from warming would force the top 1% to hire lots of people to fix all the problems caused by the climate. We might need that sort of global challenge to create enough human jobs as the robots start taking all of the manufacturing work and more. None of this is completely predictable, but it is hard for me to see how the need to adjust to climate change creates fewer jobs.

As I said above, the main reason that income inequality is no longer a major headline is that Trump made us believe that other issues are more important. But the other reason that you no longer see liberals make the trend toward greater income inequality their flagship issue is funnier. 

Trump is solving it.

If you are meeting your friend who is always late, you might like the WhenHub app because it lets you know how late they will be. You can get stuff done while waiting. And if your friend won’t use the WhenHub app, obviously you need better friends. But I don’t have an app for that.


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How to Convince Skeptics that Climate Change is a Problem

I don’t know much about science, and even less about climate science. So as a practical matter, I like to side with the majority of scientists until they change their collective minds. They might be wrong, but their guess is probably better than mine.

That said, it is mind-boggling to me that the scientific community can’t make a case for climate science that sounds convincing, even to some of the people on their side, such as me. In other words, I think scientists are right (because I play the odds), but I am puzzled by why they can’t put together a convincing argument, whereas the skeptics can, and easily do. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

As a public service, and to save the planet, obviously, I will tell you what it would take to convince skeptics that climate science is a problem that we must fix. Please avoid the following persuasion mistakes.

1. Stop telling me the “models” (plural) are good. If you told me one specific model was good, that might sound convincing. But if climate scientists have multiple models, and they all point in the same general direction, something sounds fishy. If climate science is relatively “settled,” wouldn’t we all use the same models and assumptions?

And why can’t science tell me which one of the different models is the good one, so we can ignore the less-good ones? What’s up with that? If you can’t tell me which model is better than the others, why would I believe anything about them?

2. Stop telling me the climate models are excellent at hindcasting, meaning they work when you look at history. That is also true of financial models, and we know financial models can NOT predict the future. We also know that investment advisors like to show you their pure-luck past performance to scam you into thinking they can do it in the future. To put it bluntly, climate science is using the most well-known scam method (predicting the past) to gain credibility. That doesn’t mean climate models are scams. It only means scientists picked the least credible way to claim credibility. Were there no options for presenting their case in a credible way?

Just to be clear, hindcasting is a necessary check-off for knowing your models are rational and worthy of testing in the future. But it tells you nothing of their ability to predict the future. If scientists were honest about that point, they would be more credible.

3. Tell me what percentage of warming is caused by humans versus natural causes. If humans are 10% of the cause, I am not so worried. If we are 90%, you have my attention. And if you leave out the percentage caused by humans, I have to assume the omission is intentional. And why would you leave out the most important number if you were being straight with people? Sounds fishy.

There might be a good reason why science doesn’t know the percentage of human-made warming and still has a good reason for being alarmed. I just haven’t seen it, and I’ve been looking for it. Why would climate science ignore the only important fact for persuasion?

Today I saw an article saying humans are responsible for MORE than 100% of warming because the earth would otherwise be in a cooling state. No links provided. Credibility = zero.

4. Stop attacking some of the messengers for believing that our reality holds evidence of Intelligent Design. Climate science alarmists need to update their thinking to the “simulated universe” idea that makes a convincing case that we are a trillion times more likely to be a simulation than we are likely to be the first creatures who can create one. No God is required in that theory, and it is entirely compatible with accepted science. (Even if it is wrong.)

5. Skeptics produce charts of the earth’s temperature going up and down for ages before humans were industrialized. If you can’t explain-away that chart, I can’t hear anything else you say. I believe the climate alarmists are talking about the rate of increase, not the actual temperatures. But why do I never see their chart overlayed on the skeptics’ chart so we can see the difference? That seems like the obvious thing to do. In fact, climate alarmists should throw out everything but that one chart. 

6. Stop telling me the arctic ice on one pole is decreasing if you are ignoring the increase on the other pole. Or tell me why the experts observing the ice increase are wrong. When you ignore the claim, it feels fishy.

7. When skeptics point out that the Earth has not warmed as predicted, don’t change the subject to sea levels. That sounds fishy. 

8. Don’t let the skeptics talk last. The typical arc I see online is that Climate Scientists point out that temperatures are rising, then skeptics produce a chart saying the temperatures are always fluctuating, and have for as far as we can measure. If the real argument is about rate of change, stop telling me about record high temperatures as if they are proof of something.

9. Stop pointing to record warmth in one place when we’re also having record cold in others. How is one relevant and the other is not?

10. Don’t tell me how well your models predict the past. Tell me how many climate models have ever been created, since we started doing this sort of thing, and tell me how many have now been discarded because they didn’t predict correctly. If the answer is “All of the old ones failed and we were totally surprised because they were good at hindcasting,” then why would I trust the new ones? 

11. When you claim the oceans have risen dramatically, you need to explain why insurance companies are ignoring this risk and why my local beaches look exactly the same to me. Also, when I Google this question, why are half of the top search results debunking the rise? How can I tell who is right? They all sound credible to me.

12. If you want me to believe warmer temperatures are bad, you need to produce a chart telling me how humankind thrived during various warmer and colder eras. Was warming usually good or usually bad?

You also need to convince me that economic models are accurate. Sure, we might have warming, but you have to run economic models to figure out how that affects things. And economic models are, as you know, usually worthless.

13. Stop conflating the basic science and the measurements with the models. Each has its own credibility. The basic science and even the measurements are credible. The models are less so. If you don’t make that distinction, I see the message as manipulation, not an honest transfer of knowledge.

14. If skeptics make you retreat to Pascal’s Wager as your main argument for aggressively responding the climate change, please understand that you lost the debate. The world is full of risks that might happen. We don’t treat all of them as real. And we can’t rank any of these risks to know how to allocate our capital to the best path. Should we put a trillion dollars into climate remediation or use that money for a missile defense system to better protect us from North Korea?

Anyway, to me it seems brutally wrong to call skeptics on climate science “anti-science” when all they want is for science to make its case in a way that doesn’t look exactly like a financial scam.* Is that asking a lot?

People ask me why I keep writing on this topic. My interest is the psychology around it, and the persuasion game on both sides. And it seems to me that climate scientists are the Hillary Clinton of scientists. They think facts and reason will persuade the public. Even though science knows that doesn’t generally work.

* Or a Chinese hoax. They look similar.

If you are taking the family someplace fun for spring break, you might enjoy having the WhenHub app because you need to know where everyone is at when you are in strange places.

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Wiretapping Word-Thinking

The other day, President Trump declared that “President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

Then the world went nuts. 

Former CIA Director James Clapper denied that Trump was wiretapped, saying, “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign,“

Yet we know General Flynn was in Trump Tower when his conversation with the Russian diplomat were recorded.

Does that means Flynn was “wiretapped”? 

No. But it might mean the person on the other end was. And we already know he was.

Does it mean Trump Tower was “wiretapped”?

No. But it might mean that the person on the other end was. And we already know he was.

And what does “wiretapping” even mean in a world in which all communications are recorded routinely? if the government records you routinely, and then it decides to look at some of those records, with a court order or without, has any “wiretapping” happened? I don’t think so.

And what does it mean to say “Obama was tapping”? Does it mean he directly ordered it, or does he just have to wonder aloud how awesome it would be if someone did it? We expect presidents to have deniability about the spooky stuff because we watch television shows and that makes us smart.

I don’t have an opinion about what happened, or didn’t happen, with the wiretapping. But this story did make me laugh when I realized we find ourselves in the following fun situation:

1. President Trump is the world’s biggest liar (according to his foes).


2. President Trump now has direct access to more national secrets than any other living human being.

And that means fun. 

This wiretapping situation shows us how much fun it will be. Six months ago, if Trump made a hard-to-believe claim about something that is also hard to verify, the country would assume he was lying, incorrect, or negotiating. Now, if he says something hard-to-believe, such as the recent wiretapping claim, you have to wonder if the President knows something you don’t. Because he knows a lot of somethings you don’t. 

If history is our guide, this odd situation, in which the most famous “liar” in the world also has access to the world’s best secrets, will be more entertaining than dangerous. We’re seeing that entertainment now. Trump can make any claim about hard-to-verify situations and we’ll all have to wonder if he knows something we don’t.

I feel sorry for the people watching the other movie – the one in which President Trump is essentially Hitler. In my movie, he’s having a bumpy transition ride but generally doing the people’s work. My movie is more of a comedy. And you could not write a better comedy than one in which the biggest “liar” in the world is in charge of the biggest secrets in the world.

Mmm, popcorn. 

About North Korea

In other news, watch President Trump force China to put the clamps on North Korea’s missile program by making it clear we’ll handle it for them if they can’t take care of their own backyard. If the United States has to take care of China’s problem for them, it sure would be embarrassing for China. And persuasive.

I base my North Korea prediction on the assumption that by now President Trump has burrowed so far into the brains of the Chinese leadership that he’s already got functional control, Master Persuader style. They just don’t realize it.

If you are a television news producer, you will probably enjoy using the WhenHub app because it will show your invited guests on a map as they approach their various studios. No more worrying who will be late. Just send the guest one text with a link to ask them to temporarily show up on the map on their way to the studio. The geostreaming ends automatically soon after they reach their destination.


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My $1 Million Climate Model Bet

I will bet anyone $1 million dollars that I can come up with a climate forecast model that ignores C02 and still predicts the temperature 30 years from now to within half a degree. Does anyone want to take that bet?

Obviously there is a trick involved, so I won’t accept your bet for ethical reasons. But let’s see if you can figure out how I could win that bet every time. 

I am 100% confident I can build a climate prediction model, using my current skill set, that will predict the measured temperature in 30 years to within half a degree.

Furthermore, you can pick whatever measurement type and place you want for the bet. My trick does not depend on doing anything clever with the measurement itself.

I can also build an accurate climate prediction model for any local geography. I can do it for the ocean or the air. And in each case, I have a 100% chance of getting the right answer to within half a degree.

Would you take the bet?

I’ll tell you the trick at the end. If you don’t understand how I plan to do it, you also won’t understand why this headline is hilarious nonsense.

Still puzzled? 

I’ll give you another hint in the form of a thought experiment. What if you got an unsolicited email from a new investment company giving you a hot stock tip. You don’t invest because you have never heard of this company, but a month later, the stock they recommended is way up. Next month, you get another email from the same company, with another stock pick. That too goes up in the coming month. By the third time in a row that this company picks a winning stock, you start to think they must have a secret method. Let’s say the overall market was mixed, so getting three in a row is an achievement. Would you invest with this company?

How did the company get those three stocks right? They used a scam. It’s the same scam I’m playing on you right now with my $1 million bet.

The investment company sent out thousands of emails, and they had different stock recommendations in each. Some of the stocks ended up being winners, some losers. After a month, they see which of the thousands of emails had winning stock recommendations, then they only send their second email to that group. Then they repeat. By the third mailing, they might have reduced their population of “winners” from the original 10,000 recipients to just a dozen who, by chance, got three good stock recommendations in a row. 

Now do you see how I could make a climate model that is right every time?

All I need to do is make a hundred different models, each producing output that is half a degree apart, until I have at least one model that fits every possible outcome. My models would look like this:

Model 1: Current Temp + .5 degrees

Model 2: Current Temp + 1 degree

Model 3: Current Temp + 1.5 degrees


And I’d include all the temperatures below the current temperature too, just in case we start to cool off. In 30 years, one of my prediction models will be correct by chance. I’ll throw away all the loser models and collect my $1 million bet.

Now keep all of that in your head and take a second look at this headline. Does this model still look impressive? I’m guessing there were quite a few prediction models in the past, and lots of them now too. One of them will be more accurate than the others in 30 years. 

Does that really tell you anything?

My point here is that I don’t care how many climate models are accurate if you don’t tell me how many were wrong. If 99 out of 100 climate scientists create models that are wrong, and one gets it right, would you bet on that winning model to stay right in the future?

If you answered yes, I recommend letting someone else make investment decisions for you.

If polar bears used WhenHub, they would find it easier to meet up with other polar bears. But I don’t know where they would charge their phones.

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Am I Predicting or Influencing?

People keep asking me whether I predicted the Trump presidency or influenced it. There’s no way to know. 

Or is there?

The Google search trend for “cognitive dissonance” is up. But that could be a coincidence.


In case you have been missing Robots Read News, here’s a new one.


Do you find it mind-boggling that service providers can’t tell you exactly when they will arrive at your home or office? My startup’s Whenhub app would fix a lot of that. 


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Free College (online)

At the moment, the in-person college experience is superior to taking classes online. Today, online teaching is mostly simple videos of people talking and pointing at things. But that advantage of in-person college over online classes won’t last forever. The in-person experience will stay largely as it is, but online lessons will evolve indefinitely toward better techniques, more content, and more scientifically-proven methods. Best practices will propagate quickly online.

Only three things are missing to make this vision of universal free online college a reality:

1. You need an open online platform on which anyone can post a lesson plan, and anyone else can use it or improve it.

2. You need a law that says copyrights are suspended for the online education platform (only), so anyone can copy and improve the work that came before.

3. You need some form of accreditation.

The government can take care of the copyright and accreditation issues if it chooses to do so. And my startup accidentally built an online education platform that you can use today. We didn’t build it for that purpose, but it does the job. People are already creating and sharing class lessons on it.

We don’t yet have a feature for voting on the best class lessons, but that’s coming at some point.

Some of my regular readers know that in 2012 I blogged about trying to “sell an idea” that would change the world. This was the idea. We didn’t build our startup to do this function. It happened by accident when we built a platform that can do literally thousands of things that involve creating and sharing content in a time-ordered way. Creating class lessons just happened to be one of the things it does. I didn’t even realize it until it was up and running.

Whenhub might not become the ultimate online education platform. But it does a good job of showing the potential. I mocked up an example Whencast below to show how easy it is to create a lesson plan and share it. Just go to, sign up for free, clone this template, and add your own content.

Notice that I used artificial dates just to keep the lessons in order. And I added to the first lesson a photo, video, text, and a link, just as examples. 

If the country wants free college for everyone, this is the disruptive path it will probably have to take. In ten years, I can’t imagine a scenario in which physical colleges are still competitive with online options, on price or performance.

A physical college is largely limited to using the professors it has. But an online system such as Whenhub can improve forever. It isn’t even a fair contest in the long run.

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