An ode to the unreasonable man

One of my favorite quotes of all time is George Bernard Shaw’s line that “all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” I thought of it this week upon learning that E.O. Wilson—perhaps the world’s eminent evolutionary biologist—passed away at the age of 92. In 2014, I was inspired by this Smithsonian magazine profile of Wilson, which detailed Wilson’s quest with the idea of setting aside half the planet as “permanently protected areas.” He called it the “Half Earth” plan, noting that people “haven’t been thinking big enough” about conservation. To me, Wilson was, to borrow the Shaw expression, a truly “unreasonable man.” In the best possible sense. All progress for a better future—all innovation—depends, to some degree, on audacious thinkers like Wilson.

“Throughout the 544 million or so years since hard-shelled animals first appeared, there has been a slow increase in the number of plants and animals on the planet, despite five mass extinction events. The high point of biodiversity likely coincided with the moment modern humans left Africa and spread out across the globe 60,000 years ago. As people arrived, other species faltered and vanished, slowly at first and now with such acceleration that Wilson talks of a coming ‘biological holocaust,’ the sixth mass extinction event, the only one caused not by some cataclysm but by a single species—us.”


What Belichick and Buffett have in common

My friend John Huber—founder of Saber Capital Management—wrote a great essay this week that even non-NFL super-fans can appreciate, which compared Bill Belichick’s decision-making process to investing. I think John correctly distills the essence of Belichick’s greatness, which rests, in part, on his ability to genuinely make long-term decisions, think independently, and act in the best interest of the organization—even when he may look foolish in the short-term. “The media hyperventilates about short-term results,” John writes. “This happens in sports, it happens in business, and it happens in the stock market. Humans are emotional.” John continues: 

“The mental framework of focusing on compounding sensible decisions is what Belichick and Buffett both have in common. Neither man suffers from social proof tendency, and it’s a very rare human trait to be able to have such detachment from the world’s opinions and what is considered conventional and acceptable. To be able to be in the arena and yet remain completely insulated from the noise and the emotion that can distract you from quality decision making is the skill that I admire most about both of these GOATs. It’s a behavioral edge that exists in both of their respective professions, and it’s one that is so hard for their competitors to copy.”


Instead of New Year’s resolutions, try this

Tim Ferris has a smart post this week about why he no longer makes New Year’s resolutions, but rather “past year reviews”—or PYRs. There’s something actionable about his advice here that I find compelling, a good refresh for the start of the new year. Speaking of—happy 2022! 

“And just remember: it’s not enough to remove the negative. That simply creates a void. Get the positive things on the calendar ASAP, lest they get crowded out by the bullshit and noise that will otherwise fill your days.”

A few more links I enjoyed: 

“I’m always trying to find people on the edge… But the problem is, is that you don’t typically get on a podcast unless you’re an articulate intellectual. And I have a feeling that the people with the solutions to the next iteration of society’s problems are not going to be articulate intellectuals. They’re going to be closer to Rory Sutherland, who is extraordinarily articulate and also intellectual, but also in a way that is fundamentally behaviorist and irrational. In that, he tells effective stories and he has an acknowledgement of the failures of profitability and rationality in a way that is highly unusual. And I’m always like, ‘I’m gravitating towards this person because he’s articulate and his words are being beamed directly into my brain with no critical filter.'”
“Maybe our best days are behind us. Maybe it will be impossible to see the same amount of growth going forward. It’s certainly possible. I choose to believe that most people will continue to wake up in the morning looking to improve their lot in life. People have been betting against the U.S. economy for decades. They’ve never been rewarded for it. Progress is in our DNA. Good luck betting against it.”
“The language that investors, and even news outlets that cover them, use to describe this kind of development echoes real-life property terminology… However, this is an unusual way to describe the process of designing 3D models or virtual environments. As software engineer and crypto skeptic Stephen Diehl explained to WIRED, this sort of language can be more about building a story than describing a technical process. ‘People need to kind of have a narrative behind it. Because at the end of the day, you’re just buying numbers in a computer,’ he said. ‘The story that you’re buying something in a new high-rise or a building is largely kind of bullshit.'”
“In true TDM style, we re-pitched Spotify (SPOT:NYSE), having pitched it in 2019. A lot has changed since then, but our belief that Spotify will become one of the leading internet consumer businesses of our generation has only grown since then. Below is the video of Hamish’s full virtual presentation, where he pitches our 11 minute investment thesis in with energy and intelligence.”

This information should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell any particular security. It should not be assumed that any of the investments or strategies referenced were or will be profitable, or that investment recommendations or decisions we make in the future will be profitable. This article contains links to 3rd party websites and is used for informational purposes only. This does not constitute as an endorsement of any kind. While Nightview uses sources it considers to be reliable, no guarantee is made regarding the accuracy of information or data provided by third-party sources. Nightview Capital Management, LLC (Nightview Capital) is an independent investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about Nightview Capital including our investment strategies and objectives can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available upon request.