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Skeptical of Studies

Whenever I see a headline that begins with "New Study Proves...", I skip over it and move on to the next one. I love science, and I even like studies, but I have a big problem with the way studies are framed today, especially in the media. There are two major things wrong with these so-called scientific studies, which, combined, give us misleading and often outright incorrect headlines which many of us use to inform our decisions.

The first principle that is crucial to understand is that correlation is not the same thing as causation. For example, people who send their children to private schools are more likely to be convicted of stock market fraud than those who don't.

New Study Shows That Sending Children to Private School Could Lead to Criminal Behavior in Parents!

Well, no. People who have the money to send their kids to private school are more likely to be in a position to conduct stock frauds. There is a link between the two things, but it is not a causal link. In other words, sending your children to private school is not going to turn you into a criminal.

A Limit Approaching Perfection

On Kevin Espiritu

If you're afflicted with this idea that you need something to be perfect - whether that be a skill, deliverable, project, whatever - you probably know how crippling it can be.  You'll spend 2x as much time getting something from 90% to 100% as you did getting it from 0% to 90%.

A while back I started thinking about how little I learned in college/high school, and then realizing that I was dead wrong.  I definitely learned a lot of concepts, most of which are applied in totally different ways than my teachers and professors intended.

Take calculus for example.  Don't really care about it in my day to day life...doesn't help me much.  But the concept of limits has been awesome for understanding how to view perfection and growth in general.

If you're unfamiliar, a limit is a value that a function "approaches" - never to actually reach the value...which is why it's called the limit.

If you view your progression at anything as a limit approaching perfection, I guarantee you'll have a much better time in life.  For example, if you're trying to ship out a project for a client, it's often best to ship it out at 95% rather than 100%.  You might be thinking that this shortchanges the client's investment in you, but it's not true.  Shipping out at 95% allows you to ship something else out at 95% instead of spending that time on the last 5% of the initial deliverable.

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