David Friedman’s Substack

David Friedman's Substack explores a wide range of subjects from economic principles and climate change to intellectual debates and law enforcement, emphasizing critical thinking, skepticism towards mainstream narratives, and the interplay of natural and social sciences in understanding human behavior and societal issues.

Critical Thinking and Truth Seeking Political and Economic Theories Science and Climate Change Legal and Ethical Considerations Societal and Cultural Analysis Philosophy and Morality Education and Learning Methods Technology and Society

The hottest Substack posts of David Friedman’s Substack

And their main takeaways
251 implied HN points • 15 Mar 24
  1. In online arguments, people often assume you're on one side or the other, leading to misconceptions about your beliefs.
  2. Political arguments during an election year are fueled by people fighting for their side, rather than interested in discussing ideas.
  3. The tendency to view the world in terms of 'us' vs 'them' contributes to the polarization and misinterpretation in online debates.
233 implied HN points • 09 Mar 24
  1. Some believe Trump winning the 2024 election could lead to the end of free and fair elections in America due to potential election rigging or disenfranchisement of Democrats.
  2. Trump was successful in instilling fear in the political establishment, even though he achieved little in terms of policy during his presidency.
  3. There is concern that Trump, if re-elected, may resort to using legal tactics against his opponents, potentially leading to a situation similar to ruling parties in undemocratic states like Putin's Russia.
179 implied HN points • 12 Mar 24
  1. In our legal system, the idea of rule of law versus lawfare hinges on whether prosecution depends on the severity of crimes and quality of evidence or on personal agendas of law enforcers.
  2. Civil cases such as the one involving Trump being sued for inflated property values show how legal actions can have significant financial consequences, even without direct harm.
  3. Charges against Trump related to election interference bring up the debate of what actions should be considered criminal in the political realm and the potential threats to the democratic system.
116 implied HN points • 18 Mar 24
  1. Market failure in politics occurs when individual actions that seem rational result in group outcomes that are not beneficial; this concept extends beyond just economics.
  2. Supporters of political parties often engage in actions that go against their own interests, creating market failures within the political system, which can lead to unintended consequences.
  3. In politics, the balance between individual self-interest and the collective interest of a group can determine decision-making; sometimes, actions that benefit individuals may harm the overall success of a party or ideology.
341 implied HN points • 13 Feb 24
  1. Consider forming opinions on controversial issues based on evaluating arguments rather than just trusting the experts
  2. Experts may not always have expertise in all aspects of an issue, so it's important to critically evaluate their arguments and not just rely on their authority
  3. It's crucial to judge both arguments and arguers, as bias and incentives can influence the opinions of experts in controversial topics
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350 implied HN points • 04 Feb 24
  1. Be skeptical of claims on contentious issues and don't readily believe them without verification.
  2. Evaluate arguments by reading carefully, checking claims, and assessing the logic for yourself.
  3. Recognize that scientific truth is not established by official committees, but through a decentralized process of expert agreement.
134 implied HN points • 06 Mar 24
  1. There was a hypothetical scenario where Democrats could have strategically prevented Trump from being certified as the President through a complex legal process, but ultimately it was deemed unlikely to happen due to various factors.
  2. If a candidate is disqualified after winning the majority of electoral votes, it could lead to complex and uncertain scenarios such as the House getting involved in the election process and potential power struggles between political parties.
  3. The article also mentions a potential loophole in California's primary system that could have led to a Republican senator in a typically Democratic state, but it was clarified that the scenario was not possible due to the timing of different elections.
170 implied HN points • 28 Feb 24
  1. Labeling someone as 'homophobic' for having negative views of homosexuality can falsely imply a single cause for their opinion and stigmatize them without considering other reasons.
  2. Using terms like 'racism' and 'denier' to label those with differing views can be a dishonest tactic to imply that their opinions are unreasonable without proper argumentation.
  3. Words like 'thermal pollution' and 'CO2 emission as pollution' can carry hidden value judgments, implying negativity without explicitly stating the values being used.
206 implied HN points • 22 Feb 24
  1. IQ is heritable and may differ among different races, but claims about the intelligence of Africans remain a topic of debate.
  2. The fiscal impact of immigrants is a complex issue, with data suggesting immigrants from countries with lower national IQ may have negative fiscal impacts in welfare states.
  3. Restricting immigration from low national IQ countries is debated, with considerations about the potential benefits and drawbacks in terms of societal contributions and economic impacts.
224 implied HN points • 16 Feb 24
  1. During the Great Depression, federal expenditure actually increased every year under Hoover instead of being cut.
  2. The theoretical structure in macroeconomics is not as solid as in microeconomics, leading to various viewpoints and no new orthodox approach.
  3. The government responses to economic crises like the Great Depression and the Great Recession can increase uncertainty among private actors, slowing down recovery and making decisions riskier.
242 implied HN points • 10 Feb 24
  1. Technology like smart watches and apps can provide constant reminders or notifications, sometimes without the option to stop them.
  2. Encouraging reading habits through rewards or forced reading can have unintended consequences, such as making reading seem like a chore to children.
  3. Various instances of 'robot nags' exist in everyday technology, aimed at influencing behavior or decision-making, sometimes intrusively.
143 implied HN points • 25 Feb 24
  1. Words can change in meaning over time due to overuse or intentional group efforts.
  2. Pejoratives like 'fascist' or 'socialist' may lose their original meaning through political shifts and overuse.
  3. Words like 'geek' and 'hacker' have evolved from negative connotations to positive interpretations over time.
260 implied HN points • 29 Jan 24
  1. Words like 'exponential' and 'organic' are commonly misused with meanings different from their actual definitions.
  2. Terms like 'guarantee' and 'literally' are often used incorrectly causing confusion in communication.
  3. Understanding technical terms like 'statistically significant' is crucial to avoid misinterpretation in discussions.
224 implied HN points • 01 Feb 24
  1. The definition of authoritarianism can be biased by mixing right/left political views with the assessment.
  2. Altemeyer's book had biased questions, emphasizing one direction, which can cast doubt on the conclusion drawn.
  3. There are lessons to learn from the interactions between the author and Altemeyer regarding the potential for biases and errors in research.
125 implied HN points • 19 Feb 24
  1. Technology has enabled a variety of scams, like mass production blackmail and forged evidence threats, taking advantage of a large number of people at a low cost.
  2. Legal and computer service scams are becoming more prevalent, with scammers using tactics like phone calls offering legal help after accidents or fake tech support from companies like Microsoft.
  3. Advanced technology like deepfake videos and ransomware pose serious risks, as seen in cases where fraudsters used deepfake technology to trick workers into transferring large sums of money or when victims are extorted for payments to decrypt their files.
233 implied HN points • 23 Jan 24
  1. Bogus historical stories can teach true lessons but lack evidence
  2. False historical facts can survive due to people's desire to feel superior to ancestors
  3. Political factoids can be fabricated to support or reject certain positions
242 implied HN points • 20 Jan 24
  1. It's not enough to have mistaken beliefs to be considered nutty.
  2. Beliefs that no reasonable person with your intellectual background could hold may qualify as nutty.
  3. Defending beliefs in a consistent, intelligent manner doesn't make someone a nut, but ignoring known facts to maintain beliefs may suggest otherwise.
296 implied HN points • 26 Dec 23
  1. Economics helps understand human behavior, even in a household setting.
  2. Turning shared responsibilities into competitive games can help manage tasks efficiently.
  3. Assigning tasks based on incentives can align interests and make chores more manageable.
224 implied HN points • 11 Jan 24
  1. Consider the ethical implications of publishing research with potential real-world effects.
  2. Publishing evidence against popular beliefs can be challenging but contributes to the marketplace of ideas.
  3. The decision to publish should prioritize the pursuit of truth over personal biases or potential consequences.
197 implied HN points • 17 Jan 24
  1. Children's personalities are influenced more by their peer group than parents.
  2. Creating a family-as-peer-group can foster strong family identity.
  3. Alternative education methods like homeschooling can help transmit family culture.
143 implied HN points • 26 Jan 24
  1. The author shared their personal experience with testing positive for Covid and highlighted symptoms like exhaustion, coughing, and loss of appetite.
  2. The author noticed a unique symptom where tastes became unusually strong, possibly indicating a change in their sense of taste.
  3. The author reflected on a potential silver lining of their altered taste, considering that it may align them more with their family's taste preferences.
305 implied HN points • 11 Dec 23
  1. The existence of a god does not automatically determine what is right or wrong.
  2. There are solutions to moral questions that do not rely on the existence of a god.
  3. In the early history of Islamic philosophy, there was a debate between schools of thought regarding human reason and moral judgments.
224 implied HN points • 23 Dec 23
  1. Anarchy in stateless areas and the difficulty of annexation by adjacent states.
  2. The ways in which states reorganize societies to make them easier to rule.
  3. Arguments on progressive taxation, social contracts, and libertarianism.
287 implied HN points • 26 Nov 23
  1. Having an aggressive personality can work as a commitment strategy, but can lead to potential risks in encounters.
  2. Being honest and showing virtue is beneficial in voluntary interactions, leading to higher payoffs for individuals.
  3. In a market society where most associations are voluntary, virtues have higher payoffs and vices have lower payoffs, resulting in overall nicer behavior.
215 implied HN points • 18 Dec 23
  1. Many problems arise when trying to map continuous variables to binary responses.
  2. Arbitrary lines are often drawn to simplify complex issues, which may not always reflect reality.
  3. In legal and moral systems, certainty plays a significant role in determining guilt and punishment.
152 implied HN points • 08 Jan 24
  1. Who bears the burden of a tax depends on the effect of the tax on the transaction terms, not just who hands over the money.
  2. Excess burden of taxes includes costs incurred by individuals that nobody receives, even if the government doesn't collect the tax.
  3. Smith's view on taxation aims for incidence of tax burden proportional to income, not necessarily flat rate income tax.
179 implied HN points • 29 Dec 23
  1. Plunkitt of Tammany Hall describes and defends the machine system of politics in New York City in the early 20th century.
  2. Richardson's book explains how the precinct executives played a crucial role in the machine system by managing to swing a majority of votes in primary elections.
  3. The debate arises on whether the machine system of politics, as described by Plunkitt and Richardson, was a positive or negative force compared to modern democracy.
323 implied HN points • 03 Nov 23
  1. The fundamental question is not whose side you are on, but what is the right answer.
  2. There should be a focus on evaluating ideas as right or wrong, rather than labeling individuals as good or evil.
  3. Differences in political views often stem from disagreements on facts and outcomes, rather than intentions or morality.
161 implied HN points • 20 Dec 23
  1. The story outlines a tragic account of Joseph Biden and his son's involvement in illegal activities.
  2. Irresponsibility and incompetence led to a series of damaging actions that affected Joseph Biden's political career.
  3. The father's love for his son conflicted with his public promises and political obligations.
278 implied HN points • 02 Nov 23
  1. There used to be a blog called Slate Star Codex with diverse and civil discussions.
  2. Meetups were arranged by the diverse community from the blog including the host of the post.
  3. The invitation is to attend a real or virtual meetup at the host's house in San Jose.
269 implied HN points • 28 Oct 23
  1. Murray Rothbard criticized support for government as an intellectual mistake, highlighting his approach to argument in libertarianism.
  2. Disagreement with Rothbard on producing libertarian law in an anarcho-capitalist society due to differing views on law development and enforcement.
  3. Rothbard and Ayn Rand shared similar styles and approaches in their political views despite disagreements, with Rothbard eventually satirizing Rand in a play.
129 HN points • 14 Dec 23
  1. In the past, legal systems used ordeals and confession through torture to ensure guilt beyond doubt.
  2. Over time, legal systems have evolved to rely on plea bargains as a less costly alternative to lengthy trials.
  3. The use of torture in legal systems was not only for extracting information but may also have served as a method of punishment without conviction.
233 implied HN points • 25 Oct 23
  1. Individual rights should be considered in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with property rights for those affected by land seizures
  2. Considerations of intentions and actions guide the rights of immigration and use of force for both Israelis and Palestinians
  3. The conflict is fueled by perceptions of group rights over individual rights, hindering resolution
143 implied HN points • 29 Nov 23
  1. Economics predicts individual behavior based on personal goals, while evolutionary psychology focuses on genes' goals for reproductive success.
  2. Evolutionary psychology sees the human mind as specialized modules shaped by Darwinian evolution for survival in hunter-gatherer environments.
  3. Behavioral inconsistencies in economics can be explained by beliefs in 'just prices' influenced by evolutionary psychology and ancestral trading practices.
233 implied HN points • 07 Oct 23
  1. Law enforcement can seize money without evidence of illegal activity through civil forfeiture cases
  2. Privately prosecuted law can be used against government actors for illegal acts, although it is challenging
  3. Historically, private criminal prosecution was possible and used to hold government officials accountable
161 implied HN points • 10 Nov 23
  1. Gift economies are systems of exchange based on reciprocity and social obligation without explicit contracts.
  2. Gift economies can take various forms, like providing services without monetary compensation but receiving status or recognition as a reward.
  3. In gift economies, transactions are based on gifts rather than explicit trades, creating a different dynamic of value exchange.