The client cascade

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In January of 2020, nearly two years ago, I got an email from an executive at a large streaming entertainment company. Would I consider conducting a business writing workshop for the company? Sure, I said. He asked for details and references. I sent the prospect — let’s call him Oliver — my one-page writeup for … Continued

Financial strategist market forecasts are worthless, but not useless

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In Sunday’s New York Times, Jeff Sommer complains that financial strategist forecasts for market returns are terrible. They are. But they are a little better than guessing. And they have value nonetheless. Sommer’s critique Sommer thinks the forecasts of economists and financial strategists are way off. Here’s his critique: [T]he stock and bond markets are swinging haphazardly, … Continued

Beware of analysts and “thought leaders” flogging trends

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People who thrive on attention — analysts and “thought leaders” — will tell you about what’s new and on fire. Making long-term decisions based on that is likely a mistake. If you’re not on top of a trend, you’re nobody Imagine for a moment that you are trying to be a thought leader. This includes … Continued

We need more doctors and scientists in Congress. But not Dr. Oz.

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Dr. Oz, the cardiothoracic surgeon and TV personality, is running for an open US Senate seat in Pennsylvania. He’d be one of the worst possible choices, because his “medical recommendations” are generally bullshit. Members of Congress need to discern the truth, not make it up. What’s wrong with Dr. Oz? Dr. Oz is a famous … Continued

The impossibility of enforcing Twitter’s squishy new policy on private media

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Twitter announced yesterday that it would allow people to remove unwanted photos or video of themselves. But there are lots of ill-defined exceptions, and the policy as a whole will be unwieldy to enforce. Analyzing the new policy changes Twitter already bans posting of people’s private information (“doxing”). Here’s the start of the blog post … Continued

Fivethirtyeight made suggestions on how to fix Facebook. Would they work?

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On fivethirtyeight.com, Kayleigh Rogers wrote a piece called “Facebook’s Algorithm Is Broken. We Collected Some Suggestions On How To Fix It.” Let’s try to figure out whether these suggestions would work. I’ll analyze each suggestion in the article from four perspectives: Would it solve Facebook’s major problems right now, specifically the viral spread of misinformation … Continued