Tag Archives: 538

Seeking Tribe #9: Getting Back After It


As a few of you may have noticed, I didn’t send an issue of Seeking Tribe last week. After 2 months of delivering every week, I faltered and let a week go by.

The reality is that this happens to all of us in various pursuits.

Many times in my life I’ve had a killer gym routine that I couldn’t imagine leaving (including the beginning of 2020) and now I’m 9 months without entering a squat rack— although I’ve been staying active with the few weights I have.

It’s easy to view the decision to not continue, the moment that breaks your streak, as a big failure and beat yourself up.

But you don’t have to! Instead, it can be an opportunity to ask yourself “Do I want to keep doing this?” and reaffirm your commitment.

Whatever streak you loved and lost, I hope that you’ll take this as a prompt to pick it back up and start wherever you can.

I guarantee that when you look back a couple months from now, you’ll feel more powerful knowing that not only can you keep a good habit but you can choose to pick it back up after circumstances get in your way.

I believe in you.

The Best of my Recent Reads:

  • “The magnitude of the effect we saw was about four times larger than what clinical trials have shown for traditional antidepressants on the market,” says Alan Davis, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Because most other depression treatments take weeks or months to work and may have undesirable effects, this could be a game changer if these findings hold up in future ‘gold-standard’ placebo-controlled clinical trials.” The published findings cover only a four-week follow-up in 24 participants, all of whom underwent two five-hour psilocybin sessions under the direction of the researchers, from Psychedelic Treatment with Psilocybin Relieves Major Depression, Study Shows

    This study was partially funded by Tim Ferriss. A key take away from the election results was that drugs are winning the war on drugs. I hope that our policies shift more towards risk-management and that our gov’t will reschedule controlled substances at the Federal level to permit much more research.

    How could anyone oppose that in a world where we’re actively emphasizing the importance of scientific research for our public health?

  • My friend, Ethan Bidna, shared this excellent link from 538 titled, ‘How Good Are FiveThirtyEights Forecasts?‘ where they assess their own record.

    Just to emphasize, as my last email was certainly polarizing (people messaged me to say thanks! and other people unsubscribed), I think that the 538 project is entertaining and has value!

    The bigger issue seems to be that there are issues with [a significant amount of] the polling that their model uses. Garbage in, garbage out. I’m sure there will be great retrospectives to come once every vote has been [re]counted. I also do think that my last email aged pretty well…but it’s easy to imagine the alternate world where I would have to come here and apologize for being wrong. I promise you that I’ll do just that!

  • Are you pursuing your own independent intellectual or creative projects? Looking for a community of people who are also on their grind? 

    If so, check out this great personal case study by Jason Simpkin assessing his first year as a member of Indie Thinkers, a private community for ‘Indie Thinkers’. I feel like I have to step up my game after seeing how much Jason has created over the last year.

    I am a member of this community. Feel free to DM if you’re interested in learning more!

Just Fun:

  • I have been actively avoiding video games for the last 6 months, with the exception of Duolingo (182 day streak!). However, on Monday, I finally broke down and permitted myself to buy and play Hades.

    You play as Zagreus and your goal is to escape from hell. Your Dad is Hades and he won’t let you leave. I still haven’t escaped (on hell mode) but I’ve come very close. The game is really fun and has high replay value because no ‘run’ is the same.

A Direct Ask:

I hope you all have a wonderful start to your week! As always, please feel free to reply to this email. I appreciate every email 🙂

This post was initially sent on November 15th, 2020 as part of an early prototype of my newsletter Seeking Tribesubscribe here!


Seeking Tribe #8: We’re All Going To Make It


I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloweekend. It feels strange that we used to have, more or less, one set day to wear a mask…and now we all wear them every day (is this a coronavirus joke or…?)

While the spoozy szn has past, I know the real scary day on your calendar, for many of you, is Election Day. Although, it does seems unlikely that we’ll have a clear winner on Tuesday (I’d guess ~ 20% probability that we have a  definite winner on Tuesday night – ie. some sort of wave scenario, or otherwise surprising trend; particularly after reading reports that some PA counties will not count votes until the following dayThis could change).

Before you go to check 538 again, I’d like to encourage you to not. One of the common critiques is that 538 “got it wrong in 2016”, which reflects a common misunderstanding of probability. No candidate is given a 0% probability of winning, therefore, in reality, a certain outcome cannot be used to refute the validity of their models.

However, this rebuttal can be easily followed-up with another critique. This type of modeling can be better or worse, more or less useful, but it’s ultimately unfalsifiable. Were the odds 99-1? or were they 55-45? We only get to live in N=1 reality, so we’re not able to see in how many simulations of the world Candidate A or Candidate B wins.

I have no idea what the results of the election will be. Personally, I am looking forward to exiting from this (two-and-a-half-year?) electoral cycle. Politics, and more importantly, governance are important. But I am hopeful that soon we’ll all have more energy and attention to focus where we can can make the greatest direct, positive contributions.

Now, like all of 2020, is a wonderful time for each of us to practice having a healthy, functional belief about our ability to influence the world. There are tangible actions you can still take to influence the [on-going] election at the margin, please have at it and leave it all on the field. Just know that no matter how many times we refresh the latest polls page, we will not have any greater predictive power about what electoral results the future will bring us.

The most doomer scenarios are all unlikely, ie. Civil War, large-scale violence, etc. I would bet against a significant breakdown in our society’s functioning (although I think it’s plausible that we’ll see localized issues and violence similar, and perhaps a bit greater, to what has already occurred in 2020). While the only thing that most of our elected officials can agree on is “This is the most important election of our lifetime,” I think more voters (and non-voters) would agree with the statement “The United States is worth more than the results of a single election.”

People are going to continue to work, go shopping at the grocery store, educate their children, and love their neighbors. Most people have spent much less time thinking about any of this than most of you who are still reading this. Please do not let fear or despair come to dominate your life. Elections have consequences and life goes on. Both are true!

We’re all going to make it.

The Best of my Recent Reads:

  • The Centralized Internet Is Inevitable by Samo Burja

    I still believe that the internet has and will continue to “change facts on the ground” and facilitate the creation of products that enable [certain] 3rd-parties to be disintermediated, ie. Bitcoin or 3D Printing

    Samo likely wouldn’t dispute any of that but still provides a powerful counter-narrative that’s worth considering

  • There are millions of highly skilled developers in the world. Only a small fraction work at large technology companies, and only a small fraction of those work on new product development. Many of the most important software projects in history were created by startups or by communities of independent developers.” from Why Decentralization Matters by Chris Dixon

    Samo referenced Chris’ piece so I figured I’d feature it to present the kind of theory that he’s challenging

  • I don’t know if I will see the completion of this project, or even if it will work in the long term. But that doesn’t bother me. I’m focused on placing the next brick.“, from Bitcoin at 12 by Nic Carter

    Bitcoin hit a valuation of $14,000/BTC as it turned 12 years old. This piece from Nic resonated with my own thesis on Bitcoin, in that, I do not think it’s inevitable, or perhaps even likely to succeed in its vision.

    That doesn’t mean it won’t change our world, or continue to capture the minds and talents of many of the most competent technologists. Or the dollars of institutional and retail investors… [Not investment advice].

I should have much more original content in the upcoming newsletters! My plan was to press publish on quite a few pieces that I’ve been working on. However, I ended up having quite a few time-sensitive work opportunities pop-up throughout the past week. Please wish me luck on these interviews :))

As always, please feel free to reply and leave any feedback, questions, or share something random with me to spark a conversation. I wish you all nothing but the best this week!

This post was initially sent on November 1st, 2020 as part of an early prototype of my newsletter Seeking Tribesubscribe here!