Healthily dosed meanness

I am connecting the dots, progressively. People tend to, by the way. Essentially, all that stuff called ‘civilisation’ consists in people figuring s**t out, progressively.

I am connecting two paths of my educational content, i.e. the account of my investment experience in the stock market, and urban economics, on the one hand, with a third one, namely the philosophy of science and especially the concept of truth, on the other hand.

My so-far adventure with the philosophy of science allows me to approach truth under different angles. One of the most down-to-earth tests for truth is the capacity to recognize when someone is lying to me. From the perspective of Pierre Simon, marquis de Laplace[1], I can recognize a lie when the things which someone tells me are endowed with very low probability of happening, given the knowledge I already have about the phenomena concerned. Gotcha’, f**ker! You went too far into and under the tail of the curve which sets my distribution of probability. Here, a bit accidentally, Pierre Simon, marquis de Laplace, sort of agrees with Sir George Maynard Keynes, when he wasn’t even a Sir yet, as for the theory of probability[2]. Agreement is reached as regards the claim that in practical life choices, the kind of probability that matters to us is the probability of claims we make about reality, whilst the strictly speaking probability of single phenomena happening in a given place and time is nice to know, yet of little utility in daily life.

If, alternatively, I follow the hermeneutic take by Hans Georg Gadamer[3], and you, my friend tell me things which are ugly, in the first place, and do not match at all the patterns of my historically grounded culture, you are probably telling me lies. If I take still another turn, and follow the recently formulated Interface Theory of Perception (Hoffman et al. 2015[4]; Fields et al. 2018[5]), lies are claims which contradict my empirically grounded knowledge about the way I can have the best possible payoffs from interactions with my environment.

The truth is that truth is complex and requires experience, judgment and healthily dosed meanness. That being said, let’s tackle the two problems at hand: my investment in the stock market, and the civilizational role of cities as demographic anomalies. As regards the former, here is the deal. My next instalment of investment comes. Every month, I invest in the stock market the rent which I collect from an apartment in town (i.e. in Krakow, Poland), roughly $670. Every month, I reconsider my investment portfolio and I decide what to buy, and what to sell. I am going to use the theories of truth which I tentatively outlined in the preceding paragraphs, in order to approach my next investment decision in strict scientific terms. Theories of truth will serve me to assess the well-founded of my decisions. Roughly speaking, when I choose between a limited number of alternative options, I can claim, about each of them, that this specific way to do things is the best one. If that claim is true, I can assume that it is truly the best option. Theories of truth are used here to assess the veracity of situation-specific claims. As I think about it, things are going to turn really funny if I come to the conclusion that I can label more than one option as truthfully the best. We’ll live, we’ll see. Anyway, here comes the video content: Invest 5 2020-09-02 07-55-26 ; .

As I have been doing my research on the civilizational role of cities, I have kept repeating and I still maintain that cities are demographic anomalies with a purpose. I am going to use those theories of truth as an intellectual toolbox for nailing down precisely the phenomenon of demographic anomaly. In other words, I want to determine which specific spatial distribution of human population can be truthfully labelled as anomalous, and, on the top of that, I want to assess, just as truthfully, what is the most likely scenario of change in urban life, urban economics and city management under the impact of COVID-19. In this case, theories of truth serve me to assess the veracity of general, theoretical claims. Here is the video on You Tube: Cities 3 2020-09-02 08-38-47 ;  .

I am using theories of truth in two different contexts, namely one situationally specific, and another one theoretically general, and, in my next step, I take on describing those contexts more abundantly. The context of investment decision comes with an important trait, as the philosophy of science comes, i.e. with an apparently clear, yet a bit blurry a distinction between assumptions and hypotheses.

[1] Laplace, Pierre Simon, marquis de, 1795 – 1902, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities, Project Gutenberg EBook, #58881

[2] Keynes, John Maynard, 1921, A Treatise On Probability, McMillan and Co., Project Gutenberg Ebook #32625

[3] Gadamer, Hans Georg, 2004, Truth And Method, 2nd, revised edition, Continuum Books, ISBN 08264 7697X

[4] Hoffman, D. D., Singh, M., & Prakash, C. (2015). The interface theory of perception. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 22(6), 1480-1506.

[5] Fields, C., Hoffman, D. D., Prakash, C., & Singh, M. (2018). Conscious agent networks: Formal analysis and application to cognition. Cognitive Systems Research, 47, 186-213.

Business models and the nature of truth – back to school #2

I am introducing another handful of educational content in the form of video tutorials.

The video recorded on August 23rd, noon sharp, is the first in a separate path of teaching devoted to Political Systems. The link to You Tube is here: PolitSys 2020-08-23 11-16-44 ( ). The video introduces two case studies: the constitution of Uganda ( ) and the constitution of India ( ). In terms of theory, two articles are hinted at: Almond, G. A. (1956). Comparative Political Systems. The Journal of Politics, 18(3), 391-409 ( ), and Easton, D. (1957). An approach to the analysis of political systems. World Politics: A Quarterly Journal of International Relations, 383-400 ( ). General concepts which you will find developed in this video are:

>> Constitution as a double-function tool: the set of rules for the political game, and the foundation of the national legal system

>> Constitutional systems as paradoxes: rules of the very brutal political game put together, in the same document, with ambitious ethical principles for the entire nation.

>> The principle of national sovereignty

>> The method of studying constitutions by simulated removal and negation of rules

Material recorded on Monday, August 24th, 2020 (Econ Basics 1 2020-08-24 08-02-06 ; ) contains the first, more or less formalized lecture in the fundamentals of economics. I use five essential readings – Netflix Annual Report 2019, Discovery Annual Report 2019, Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’, David Ricardo’s ‘Principles of Political Economy and Taxation’, and Carl Menger’s ‘Principles of Economics’ – in order to show the basis axes of approach to economic sciences. Firstly, it is the special social tension between the diversity of skills and social roles, on the one hand, and the fact of them all summing up to one big body of labour (Smith). Secondly, I introduce the distinction between capital and labour, and the importance of capital resources (Ricardo, example Netflix). Thirdly, and finally, I present the concept of economic good (Carl Menger) and the importance of translating technology into products.

The video recorded slightly later on August 24th, 2020 (Renew BM 2 2020-08-24 09-35-20; ) is the second educational piece in the stream devoted to Business Models in the industry of Renewable Energies. I stay with the two business cases from the first video, i.e. First Solar Inc. and SMA Solar Technology AG, and I focus on connecting their capital accounts – their respective BALANCE SHEETS – to their business models. In terms of the capital base, First Solar is six times bigger than SMA. First Solar’s business model is based, capital-wise, on using retained earnings and additional paid-in capital to finance property, plant, equipment and a large reserve of cash. As regards SMA Solar, they mostly use retained earnings and long-term, complex contractual debt in order to finance factories and large inventories. What emerges as a common denominator between the two is the stream of capital from retained earnings to the financing of fixed productive assets.

In the second video focused on business models in the media industry (Media BM 2 2020-08-24 13-42-46;  ), I keep working with two business cases: Netflix, and Discovery Communications. This time, I focus on deconstructing a business model out of the capital account, i.e. from the balance sheet of a company. I present it in the form of a game, which I frequently practice in class with my students: I ask them to identify the biggest numbers (financial aggregates) on both the active and the passive side of the balance sheet. I demonstrate this exercise in this video and explain how you can use the balance sheet to guess the fundamental traits of a business model.  

I am also putting online a second video in the educational path devoted to the philosophy of science (Phil Science 2 2020-08-24 14-17-58;  ). I am investigating the nature of truth, with three basic readings: Philosophical Essay on Probabilities’ by Pierre Simon, marquis de Laplace, ‘Truth and Method’ by Hans Georg Gadamer, and an article entitled ‘Conscious agent networks: Formal analysis and application to cognition’, by Chris Fields, Donald D. Hoffman, Chetan Prakash, and Manish Singh. I briefly discuss the limitations we, humans, encounter when trying to discover truth about reality.

Back to school

More than an entire month has passed since I placed my last update on this blog. I took some time strictly off – some human tribes call it ‘vacation’ – and I have been assiduously doing science. Back from vacation, and imbibed with new science, I am blogging again. Actually, this new science is so fresh that I need to blog about it just to put some order in my findings and my ideas.

I have been doing science, and, in the same time, I have been preparing my teaching content for the new academic year.  As for science, I have been focusing on two things: the general theory of collective intelligence, on the one hand, and the puzzling data on urban density, on the other hand. I am going to develop on that second issue more exhaustively, as these are facts, and facts have disquieting a tendency to bring new insights into the comfortably established theory.

As regards teaching, I have three big curriculums to prepare for the winter semester: economics, management, and economic policy together with political systems. In this update, I am bringing, as sort of test missiles, my first three educational videos for the next semester. In other words, this update on my blog is actually a long, articulated link to those videos on You Tube. Below, I give the links and a short explanation for each of those three.

The video which I recorded around 2 p.m., on August 22nd, 2020, is pertinent to Business Models in the Film and TV production business. In my teaching of management, I have that special path, addressed to students in the Major ‘Film and TV Production’. I am teaching them the basics of management, with a special edge on show business. In this specific video you will see the beginning of two case studies: Netflix and Discovery Inc. You will see the basic tips for finding and retrieving financial reports of those businesses, as well as the first steps into analysing their business in depth. Here is the link to the You Tube video: Media BM 2020-08-22 13-41-17 (–1KQ ).  

The video recorded around 2:30 p.m., August 22nd, 2020, regards the Philosophy of Science. It is both extra-curricular content for all those among my students who want to develop their scientific edge, and my auto-reflection on the general issue of collective intelligence, and the possibility to use artificial neural networks for the study thereof. I dive into three readings: ‘Civilisation and Capitalism’ by Fernand Braudel, ‘Philosophical Essay on Probabilities’ by Pierre Simon, marquis de Laplace, and finally ‘Truth and Method’ by Hans Georg Gadamer. I focus on fundamental distinctions between reality such as it is, on the one hand, our perception, and our understanding thereof. The link is here: Phil Science 2020-08-22 14-30-16 ( ).

The video recorded early in the morning of August 23rd, 2020, is devoted to Business Models in the industry of Renewable Energies. The general concept of business models is the overarching common denominator in my teaching of economics and management in the coming academic year (2020/2021). Here, I start with a quick glance on two business cases: FIRST SOLAR and SMA SOLAR. You can see there two different business models, one oriented on big scale in manufacturing, the other one focused on building complex networks and platforms of exchange. Here comes the link to You Tube: Renew BM 2020-08-23 07-52-34 ( ).