The Better Letter

The Better Letter explores the intersections of markets, politics, faith, and personal life through a lens that emphasizes long-term thinking, reality-based decision-making, and appreciation for randomness and uncertainty. It critiques short-sightedness, promotes critical thinking, and reflects on societal trends and human behavior.

Investing and Financial Planning Economic and Market Predictions Decision-Making and Cognitive Biases Politics and Society Personal Development and Life Philosophy The Role of Luck and Randomness Faith and Culture

The hottest Substack posts of The Better Letter

And their main takeaways
511 implied HN points β€’ 26 Jan 24
  1. Fear sells and makes money, driving many market predictions based on fear.
  2. Investors face fear daily, driven by narratives over data, making them susceptible to fear-mongering.
  3. Long-term investment is crucial; while fear may lead to short-term moves, the market trends upwards over time, favoring investment.
393 implied HN points β€’ 11 Jan 24
  1. No one can predict the future accurately, despite our obsession with prediction.
  2. Bad forecasting is common among experts, with stock market predictions often less accurate than a coin flip.
  3. Economists and analysts also struggle with accurate predictions, often underestimating variables like inflation and economic growth.
196 implied HN points β€’ 01 Feb 24
  1. The Beatles' success was a result of luck and timing, as well as their innovation and willingness to take risks.
  2. Critics initially dismissed The Beatles' music, but later recognized their impact and influence on the music industry.
  3. The Beatles faced criticism and skepticism from critics throughout their career, but their music ultimately endured and influenced generations to come.
294 implied HN points β€’ 17 Nov 23
  1. Humans are not always rational and make decisions that defy traditional economic theory.
  2. We all have biases and tend to protect our deeply held values, making it difficult to accept new information.
  3. There is a rising trend of denialism and irrational beliefs that are not confined to a specific political ideology.
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117 implied HN points β€’ 09 Feb 24
  1. Avoiding errors is often more important than making good decisions.
  2. Drafting quarterbacks in the NFL is crucial but challenging, with a high likelihood of error.
  3. The index mindset favors risk mitigation over ambition, but taking risks can lead to great outcomes.
196 implied HN points β€’ 08 Dec 23
  1. Baseball's analytics revolution owes its existence to a smart security guard creating statistical analysis accessible and interesting.
  2. The success of 'Moneyball' accelerated the statistical disruption in baseball and led to the widespread use of advanced statistical measures in MLB.
  3. The Bill James approach transformed baseball analysis to be more objective, relevant, and useful, impacting team strategies and decision-making.
412 implied HN points β€’ 07 Apr 23
  1. Realistic retirement planning is crucial, especially considering the impact of debt and the average 401(k) balance.
  2. Advice on saving more and saving earlier is important, but should be realistic and consider individual circumstances.
  3. Retirement planning should acknowledge competing priorities and be approached with creativity and understanding, without judgment.
176 implied HN points β€’ 03 Nov 23
  1. Constantly seek out errors in your ideas and be willing to admit and fix them.
  2. Don't assume that past investment success guarantees future results or that beating the market is easy.
  3. Focus on reducing debt, living within your means, and accumulating savings for financial peace.
353 implied HN points β€’ 18 May 23
  1. Second order thinking considers the potential unintended consequences of actions.
  2. Complex systems are prone to unexpected failures and consequences.
  3. Engaging in second order thinking can lead to better decision-making and anticipating outcomes.
157 implied HN points β€’ 20 Oct 23
  1. Baseball analytics have revolutionized the sport, but interpreting data on human behavior is complex.
  2. Clutch hitting in baseball is a controversial topic with no solid evidence of its existence as a repeatable skill.
  3. Combining traditional scouting with statistical analysis in sports management is often more effective than choosing one over the other.
235 implied HN points β€’ 05 May 23
  1. Income annuities can provide retirees with guaranteed consumption and hedge against longevity risk.
  2. Consumers often reject income annuities due to loss aversion, complexity, and lack of understanding.
  3. Being a good financial advisor involves selling what clients need, even if it's not what they initially want.
255 implied HN points β€’ 13 Jan 23
  1. We cannot predict the future accurately.
  2. Even experts and renowned economists make wildly incorrect forecasts.
  3. History is full of surprising events that challenge predictability.
275 implied HN points β€’ 09 Dec 22
  1. Gaslighting is the act of misleading someone for personal gain by making them doubt their own reality or sanity.
  2. Gaslighting is commonly used in various sectors like politics, media, and finance, including hedge fund marketing.
  3. Hedge fund marketing often uses gaslighting tactics to present false information and hide poor performance, leading to high fees and underwhelming results for investors.
196 implied HN points β€’ 26 Jan 23
  1. The Doomsday Clock was moved to 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to Armageddon.
  2. Throughout history, there have always been doomsday prophets predicting the end of the world.
  3. Paul Ehrlich, a scientist and doomsday prophet, has been consistently wrong in his predictions for the past 55 years.
176 implied HN points β€’ 10 Mar 23
  1. Self-knowledge is ongoing self-interpretation.
  2. Confabulation is a self-delusion where we guess at explanations for our choices.
  3. People are prone to confabulation, even famous figures, and it can impact our decision-making process.
255 implied HN points β€’ 18 Nov 22
  1. Christian nationalism in the US is a complex mix of history, politics, and beliefs.
  2. Christian nationalists aim to influence laws, governance, and American culture based on their faith.
  3. Understanding and critically evaluating the impact and implications of Christian nationalism is crucial for American society.
176 implied HN points β€’ 03 Feb 23
  1. Humans fear the unknown and uncertain, especially in situations where escape is difficult.
  2. Excessive fear, apocalyptic thinking, and doomsday cults arise from our natural tendency to prioritize threats over opportunities.
  3. Despite prevalent doomsday scenarios, history shows that extreme projections often do not come true, and advancements in technology and science offer hope for the future.
275 implied HN points β€’ 14 Oct 22
  1. Thinking for oneself is a subversive and significant act in today's world.
  2. The internet can distort reality and shape our behavior through narratives and influences.
  3. The digital world blurs the line between private and public, and it's crucial to be mindful of what is shared online.
157 implied HN points β€’ 17 Mar 23
  1. Unlikely events happen more often than we realize, influencing outcomes in sports, investments, and life.
  2. Probability plays a significant role in determining outcomes, such as in coin tosses, NCAA brackets, and market predictions.
  3. Randomness, noise, and unpredictability are intrinsic to life, affecting decision-making and the way we perceive events.
196 implied HN points β€’ 16 Dec 22
  1. Pain is part of the process in investing and it's necessary to achieve long-term rewards.
  2. Finding the next Amazon stock is extremely difficult and most stocks do not provide high returns.
  3. Investors should be prepared to endure significant drawdowns and volatility in the stock market to reap the benefits of higher returns compared to other investments.
176 implied HN points β€’ 30 Dec 22
  1. The Cannonball Run is a famous and challenging cross-country race that has inspired movies and made a mark on American pop culture.
  2. Unexpected events can lead to quick changes in plans, like the author's journey from East Coast to West Coast in a short amount of time due to flight cancellations.
  3. The author's experience in the Cannonball Run offers insights on dealing with uncertainty, making adjustments, and the importance of communication in times of crisis.
157 implied HN points β€’ 20 Jan 23
  1. 2022 had many challenges in the market with declines and economic shifts.
  2. Consider that investing and financial success often involve some level of luck and being born in the right circumstances.
  3. Despite market fluctuations, it's important to maintain perspective and find ways to help those less fortunate.
176 implied HN points β€’ 23 Dec 22
  1. Christmas is about retelling familiar stories and songs.
  2. Acts of kindness and generosity can make a big impact, especially during the holidays.
  3. The best Christmas presents are often about love and unexpected moments of joy.
137 implied HN points β€’ 26 May 23
  1. Remembering the legendary Tina Turner, known as the Queen of Rock & Roll.
  2. Diversity and inclusion are crucial in all aspects of society, including music history.
  3. Freedom of expression, questioning the norm, and embracing diversity are essential values to uphold.
176 implied HN points β€’ 02 Dec 22
  1. Christian nationalism has found favor with a subset of American evangelicals, blending patriarchal, Reformed fundamentalism and alt-right politics.
  2. Stephen Wolfe's book, 'The Case for Christian Nationalism,' argues for authoritarianism and theocratic rule, advocating for a Christian prince with autocratic power.
  3. Wolfe's views clash with traditional Reformed beliefs in limited government, separation of powers, and religious liberty, opting for authoritarianism over representative democracy.
216 implied HN points β€’ 30 Sep 22
  1. Humans have a unique capacity to imagine and create narratives to turn visions into reality.
  2. The narrative fallacy challenges us to separate facts from the stories we create around them.
  3. Stories are powerful and help us make sense of the world, even though they can overshadow factual reality.
176 implied HN points β€’ 11 Nov 22
  1. The author is working on a piece about Christian nationalism
  2. No documented cases of Halloween candy harming children
  3. Consider honoring military veterans today
117 implied HN points β€’ 17 Feb 23
  1. Umpires have a challenging job calling baseball games, with some achieving remarkable accuracy rates.
  2. Robots are being considered to call balls and strikes in baseball due to their precision and lack of biases.
  3. Human biases, including favoritism towards high-status individuals, can influence umpires' calls during games.
117 implied HN points β€’ 10 Feb 23
  1. Math is powerful in Super Bowl betting with the odds and over $16 billion at stake.
  2. Evaluation is key in NFL management and investing; making good choices can lead to success.
  3. Learning from mistakes and thinking outside the box are important in life, investing, and football decisions.
137 implied HN points β€’ 06 Jan 23
  1. Annual Investment Outlook presented on 12th Night (Epiphany)
  2. Song recommendation: 'Totally Worth It'
  3. Report estimates 60 million hours saved daily from work from home
157 implied HN points β€’ 04 Nov 22
  1. Election issues like economy and crime are important for voters.
  2. Despite objective data showing improvement in various aspects, people are generally more unhappy now.
  3. Focusing on what is true, real, and important can lead to a more meaningful life.