Dear Gentle Reader,
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In this letter, we will be discussing the Lindy Effect. Well, specifically I will be exploring how the Lindy Effect can apply to your life. What the practical use of it is. But before we discuss how to apply it, we have to know what it is. But I’m not going to spend my time writing about the definition when there is already the definitive Lindy Effect piece available online for free. So I’m going to just link you to Nassim Taleb’s treatment of Lindy and you’re going to have to read it so we can all be on the same page.
Lindy is an important concept. And I will be referencing it all the time. And also, I’m the LindyMan. So you can’t follow the LindyMan without knowing what the Lindy Effect is. So let’s take some time and read this piece.
Did you read it? Good. Now we can move on to the rest of this letter.
Lindy exists chiefly for your protection, for risk/survival strategies in the modern world. The modern world we live in is an incredible project. Living as an individual today, you get bombarded by new things all the time. New products, new academic disciplines, new books, new technologies, new foods, new living arrangements, new “theories” on life, new postures, the entire modern world is about how do we handle living in an environment that is not at all comparable to the ancestral environment we emerged from. It’s a weird time in human history.
So let’s go throughout your day and see where Lindy can help you
Your alarm clock buzzes at 7:00am. You have to wake up. It’s Monday. You drag yourself to the bathroom to brush your teeth. Next to your brush is a bottle of mouthwash. What is thing? When was it created? About 80-100 years ago. At the end of the 19th century and early 20th century there was an explosion of products. Modern consumer capitalism emerged and this era led to many new products. One of them was mouthwash. Is mouthwash good for you? Well, probably not. Unfortunately, mouthwash doesn't differentiate between good bacteria and “bad” bacteria and kills all bacteria. As a result, mouthwash causes harm in the long run because it can disrupt the microbiome and impede the normal functioning of your body. You’re messing with a complex ecosystem in your mouth with this chemical. You don’t know what’s going to happen with prolonged use. People don’t just use mouthwash once a month, or once a year. They tend to use it everyday. What kind of harm accumulates over the long run?
One study suggests diabetes
It’s kind of like cigarettes. They are this perfectly crafted consumer product that is designed for addiction. It gives you a little nicotine, a little tobacco, a bunch of other chemicals in this tactile friendly tube. Just enough to have one, and then move on to another activity. If people smoked one cigarette a quarter, I doubt there would be a problem with cancer or lung damage. But because it’s crafted for addiction, it’s going to wreck your health.
Are you going to eat breakfast? Maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe you should just fast through breakfast. A lot of what we call breakfast was an invention of the 20th century consumerist creation. Cereals, and pancakes, and eggs and waffles and whatever. That’s relatively new to eat in the morning. This big meal full of sugar.
Ever notice you’re not hungry in the morning?
The benefits of fasting are enormous (insulin, inflammation and more). I’m not going to sit here and link to all the studies. You can find them yourself. Romans and Greeks and throughout the middle ages, breakfast was never really a meal. People worked first (Lions hunted first) and then they ate.
After you’re done in the bathroom, you move to the kitchen and make yourself a pot of coffee. Is coffee dangerous? Can you drink it everyday? Sure. Coffee has been drunk for 400-500 years now. We know the effects of coffee. People aren’t dying from drinking coffee or developing crazy side effects that lead to dangerous consequences. Go ahead and drink your coffee. You can even drink your tea too, another deep lindy drink. Tea isn’t going to hurt you with one dose or many doses.
So you sit down at your computer and load up your twitter. You want to be “in the know” and consider yourself a “news junkie” and so you follow journalists and news organizations on twitter. What ends up happening is you are consuming the worst news all over the globe. Your mood is being wrecked by all the bad things that are happening. Bad things happen all the time. Many people are evil. There’s so much destruction out there. And here you are sitting down consuming it all. Your mind and body were made for a localist environment. Bad news coming at you at 100mph all the time is going to cause you problems. You’ll “be angry” at things so far from you. You’ll be engaged in weird out of scale problems that you can’t control or even contemplate.
Even worse than all of this, you’ll be entering the world of the “journalist”. This creature who doesn’t want to get a real job and wants to write tall tales (fake news) meant to push your buttons. This person who wants to drag you into hell so they can get clicks and earn their paycheck. They want to “write” for a living while leading this cartoonish life where they pretend speak truth to power. but what’s really going on here? they are messing your head up. Getting you angry every day. For what? Is this good for you? Maybe you should focus on your job, your health, your family, your friends, your neighborhood. Your body feels this negativity barrage everyday reading “the news”.
Twitter is a great tool. News was traditionally, throughout history, a two way street. You gave news and you received news. Like a barber shop. So you can create a lindy compatible community to engage with rumor/gossip. But what happens is people treat it like the 20th century media monoculture, where they just rained bad news on you in a one way communication. They get the upside (clicks, salaries) you get the downside (anger, messing up your mood). You lose in this transaction.
Food is lindy. You’re going to kill yourself at lunch because you got fooled by advertising and modernity? Some crazy product someone creates that leads you down a bad path? Food is causing a lot of people to die. You can’t mess around with “new” food. If it wasn’t around 800 years ago, don’t eat it.
If you look at the leading causes of death. All of them can be reduced if someone followed a lindy life
The leading causes of death
1.) vegetable oils
3.) refined carbohydrates
4.) processed food
5.) medication errors
7.) lack of sleep
8.) lack of exercise
This is figuring out something central. What do ALL elements of this list have in common?
These are ULTRA MODERN, not Lindy.
I remember back in the early 2000s there was a big boom in “life hacking”. Reading psychology and making changes to your life to fit within these seemingly real human asymmetries. One of the big books of that era was “Thinking Fast and Slow” By Daniel Kahneman. This book won awards, was on best seller lists, it was this respected chronicle of psychological truths. It turned out it was all fake. The findings never replicated. There was something called “ego depletion”. The more willpower you use, the more it depletes. so you should save all your willpower throughout the day. That was fake. In fact, Seneca says the opposite, the more you practice your willpower, the stronger it gets. Fake stuff to mess up your mind
Priming, another finding that didn’t replicate. That you could psyche yourself out by looking at an image and then going outside. The marshmallow test was another one. How do you know you’re not going to get the other marshmallow? 1 in the hand is better than 2 in the bush. That’s lindy. You don’t know if you’re going to get the other marshmallow.
Remember the Myers-Briggs test? That’s all fake. It’s not real. But employers used it. People used it. Look it up, it’s been debunked.
What about extroversion and introversion? It depends who you’re talking too. If its someone who shares the same interests as you, you all of a sudden open up and talk a lot. If you’re around people who you don’t know or don’t share the same interests, you don’t talk as much. You’re an extrovert in one domain and an introvert in another domain. It’s fake.
The list goes on and on, I won’t go into it.
We live in an era of pathologizing. And Psychology is causing much harm with theories that aren’t real. It get’s even worse, when they start locking people up in crazy homes.
Speculations about individual psychology have no place in ancient literature; custom demanded that those wrongly done to death be placated. Ancient motives were expressed by actions, however deviously contrived, warranted by familial loyalty or enjoined by pious precedent. Socrates notion of the “examined life” was less a call for introspection than an incitement to dispassionate assessment. The Platonic psyche was a vestige of immortality, not an apartment for neuroses.
The point is that whatever is not worthless is psychology we already know from elsewhere. What should replicate in psychology is what tricksters, illusionists, marketers, advertising people, jilted lovers & crooks have known forever.
The issue: bad science is worse than no science.
The best training you can offer yourself is detecting circularity. It teaches you to think not just forward in 2nd, 3rd steps, but backward in minus 1st, 2nd steps, etc.
Modernity is full of circularities (education, citation rings, journalism, classifications, IQ, psychology...)
As Karl Popper said about psychoanalysis they always come up for an explanation for failure, then ad-hoc the crap out of it. Or blame you for not knowing psychology or having narcissistic tendencies or problems with your mother.
So you’re done with work and you want to get in some exercise. What do you do? Well, when you do real workouts you aren’t working out your “muscles”, you are working out your neural and skeletal system. It requires concentration to push a piece of metal over your head. We are now learning that Osteocalcin is a hormone in the bones that gets released from stress. And standing exercises that employ a barbell and very heavy weight are the best way to workout these complex systems in our body.
We also want to work out our heart. You can do that with sprints.
This is the metaphor of Milo of Croton, he carried a young lamb on his back up a hill, as the lamb grew, Milo got stronger.
Stay away from gym machines. Those were created in the 20th century. They were made for bodybuilding culture. Bodybuilding culture is some grotesque subculture that is a product of modernity. Where they workout each muscle individually. Like I just said, working out isn’t about the muscles, but about the other systems in your body, interconnected to each other.
What about yoga? Well, I researched yoga and found out it was not lindy. It caused quite a stir a few years ago. The postures in yoga were an early 20th century creation. They were part of early bodybuilding and women’s gymnastic culture from Europe that was emerging at the time.
My BS meter went off when I thought about if Yoga was lindy. No way people were going into a room for 2 hours a day and just stretching, putting their bodies in these strange postures. Turns out, they were not! I caught a lot of heat for my Yoga posting. People attacked me on twitter. It was fine.
A month ago even Discovery Magazine admitted yoga wasn’t ancient. Tennis is older than Yoga.
So is Yoga good or bad for you? I have no idea. There is no precedent for it. Who knows what happens to your body if you keep doing it for decades. Lindy doesn’t say “don’t do it”, it says “we don’t know whats going to happen”
Lindy works in the aesthetic domain.
Ever notice modern architecture isn’t good? That it looks worse than traditional architecture? Sometimes you walk around and feel alienated by it. One of the reasons is that architects try to impress other architects. So there is this inside game going on that you don’t see. Some strange niche competition that leads to despair for those who have to live in it. Think of Le Courbesieur terrible little projects around the world. Sad places.
Then you look at traditional architecture and columns and high ceilings, and open air places. it looks so splendid. Walk around in these European cities, it feels good. You feel good. These places have survived a long time, and are still enjoyable to be in. Whereas, newer architecture immediately feels dated.
Not only the architecture but the design of the town or neighborhood. There was a walking culture in ancient times. People went on long walks. Now, with the advent of car culture, there are many places where you can’t go on long walks.
Lindy also helps in the relationship domain. Something that has come up over and over is that men have a harder time dealing with breakups than women. Maybe it’s because all a woman has to do is go outside and a man will approach her, while the man’s job is much harder, he has to hunt. There is a realistic chance he will be alone.
Whatever the underlying “why” we do know the “what”.
How many men have hit a depression or suffered because they did know a breakup affects them asymetrically than women?
Lindy could save your life
Ok, I think we covered enough for now.
This is just a starting point of how Lindy can be practical in your day-to-day life.