Poor Charlie's Almanack mostly by Charlie Munger, edited by Peter Kaufman
Skip past the opening 140+ pages of Munger-rocks-ology, proceed directly to the revised talks given by Munger, and then rage at Kaufman for abridging them and putting annoying pictures/distracting quotes in-line. The talks themselves seem like shortlist pointers to information that any modern person should know. The difficulty remains that the reader gets a huge list of things to go immediately read (good thing I'm in a library now ;).
Munger should have written a book of pointers instead of repackaging his talks. He fends that complaint off in a Q&A session with Kaufman:
I don't have much interest in writing a book myself. Plus it would be a lot of work for somebody like me to try an do it in my seventies. And I have plenty else to do in life. So I'm not going to to do it. But it's a screaming opportunity for somebody. And I'd provide funds to support the writing of an appropriate book if I found someone with the wisdom and the will to do the job right.
Pinker can't understand why Chomsky -- who, again, is such a genius -- takes the position that the jury's still out about why this ability (language) is in the human genome. Pinker, in effect, says: "Like hell, the jury's still out! The language instinct got into humans in exactly the same way that everything else got in there -- through Darwinian natural selection."
Well the junior professor is clearly right -- and Chomsky's hesitation is a little daft.
But if the junior professor and I are right, how has a genius like Chomsky made an obvious misjudgment? The answer's quite clear to me -- Chomsky is passionately ideological. He is an extreme egalitarian leftist who happens to be a genius. And he's so smart that he realized that if he concedes thi particular Darwinian point, the implications threaten his leftist ideology. So he naturally has his conclusion affected by his ideological bias.
And he (Captain Cook) noticed they (the dutch, who didn't get scurvy as much as brits) had all these barrels of sauerkraut. So he thought, "I'm going on these long voyages. And it's very dangerous. Sauerkraut may help." So he laid in all this sauerkraut, which, incidentally, happens to contain a trace of vitamin C.
Well, Cook didn't want to tell 'em (his crew) that he was doing it in the hope it would prevent scurvy -- because they might mutiny and take over the ship if they thought he was taking them on a voyage so long that scurvy was likely.
So, here's what he did: Officers ate at one place where the men could observe them. And for a long time, he served sauerkraut to the officers, but not to the men. And, then, finally, Captain Cook said, "Well, the men can have it one day a week."
In due course, he had the whole crew eating sauerkraut. I regard that as a very constructive use of elementary psychology. It may have saved God knows how many lives and caused God knows how much achievement. However, if you don't know the right techniques, you can't use them.
I know two different doctors -- each of whom had a sound marriage. And when the malpractice premiums got high enough, they divorced their wives and transferred most of their property to their wives. And they continued to practice -- only without malpractice insurance.