Gurwinder Profile picture
Feb 11, 2022 42 tweets 10 min read Read on X
My friends, a new MEGATHREAD has arrived!

In 40 tweets I’ll explain 40 useful concepts you should know.

Reading time: ~7 minutes.
Value: potentially a lifetime!

1. Social Proof:
When unsure how to act, people copy others, outsourcing their decisions. When Sylvan Goldman invented shopping trolleys, people didn’t want to use them because they seemed silly. So Goldman paid actors to use trolleys in his stores, and everyone quickly followed.
2. Twyman's Law:
The more notable the data, the more likely it's wrong. This is because errors and data manipulation are far more common than genuine notable (i.e. surprising) results.

Conversely, the more boring the data, the more trustworthy.
3. Spotlight Effect:
We often get the anxious feeling that our every move is being scrutinized by others. The truth is, no one is paying as much attention to you as you are. People are too concerned with how they appear to others to care much about how you appear to them.
4. Relative Privation:
An all-too-common fallacy where people dismiss a concern because something else is worse.

“How can you talk about X when Y is happening?”

By this logic, how can anyone ever talk about anything other than literally the single worst thing in the universe?
5. Expectation Effect:
What you see is influenced by what you expect to see. In one example, researchers Peter & Susanne Brugger showed people this picture. In October, most people saw a duck. During Easter, most people saw a bunny.

h/t: @d_a_robson Image
6. Shirky Principle:
Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution. It’s the best way to ensure their survival and growth. Examples include planned obsolescence and the various “industrial complexes” (military, prison, pharmaceutical, etc).
7. Gibson's Law:

“For every PhD, there is an equal and opposite PhD.”

In matters of law & policy, anyone can find a subject-matter expert who supports their view, because having a PhD doesn’t necessarily make someone right, it often just makes them more skilled at being wrong.
8. Noise Bottlenecks:
Consuming online content makes us feel like we're learning, but 90% of the content is useless junk: small talk, clickbait, marketing. We're filling our heads with noise, which is drowning out signal. As such, we feel we're getting smarter as we get stupider.
9. Belief Perseverance:
Our opinions are like bricks in masonry; each supports & is supported by others. Changing a belief means tearing down all beliefs atop it. Such demolition is hard to bear (easier to live with a skewed building) so people will rarely let that 1 brick budge. Image
10. Proteus Effect:
In virtual spaces, people become like their avatars. For instance, using a "sexy" avatar tends to make a person more flirtatious. This suggests people's personalities are largely a performance choreographed to social expectations.
11. Narrative-Market Fit:
News & commentary are products, so they follow market pressures. The more a story fits a fashion or meets a strong consumer demand, the more likely it has been crafted purely for audience engagement, and the less you should trust it.

h/t: @david_perell
12. Fredkin's Paradox:
The more similar two choices seem, the less the decision should matter, yet the harder it is to choose between them. As a result, we often spend the most time on the decisions that matter least.
13. Cunningham's Law:
The best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question, but to post the wrong answer, because people online are more interested in criticizing people than helping them.
14. Audience Capture:
Many influencers make their name by attacking cultural foes. Their growing audience demands ever more attacks, so, like Aztec priests trying to keep the rain flowing, they get trapped in a cycle of offering blood sacrifices to appease unseen entities.
15. Burying The Lede:
If a journalist wants to downplay the most important aspect of a story, they'll bury it at the bottom of their article and mention it as briefly as possible. They'll also reframe their headline and narrative to emphasize other aspects, like so: Image
16. Ben Franklin Effect:
Getting someone who dislikes you to do you a favor can get them to like you, as people's identities are a story they tell themselves, and if they're kind to you they need to square their actions with their identity, so they tell themselves they like you.
17. Mismatch Theory:
Moths evolved to navigate by the moon, a good strategy until the invention of electric lamps, which now lead them astray. Equally, humans evolved to be tribal, a good strategy until the Digital Age, where it now leads us to act like polarized goons online.
18. Agent Detection:
For aeons, it was safer to presume an unusual arrangement was designed by an intelligence than that it was natural. This helped us avoid traps. The result is that we've evolved to presume anything unusual is designed. Hence creationism & conspiracy theories.
19. Problem Selling:
Problem-solvers take an issue and break it down into small solvable chunks. Problem-sellers (e.g. politicians, the press) do the opposite: bundling many small issues into one big problem that looks insurmountable and terrifying.

h/t: @BoyanSlat
20. Hyperbolic Discounting:
Just as objects far away seem smaller, so do things far into our future. As a result, we are inclined to choose immediate rewards over future ones, even when these immediate rewards are much smaller. To overcome this bias, use @naval’s Compass: Image
21. Generation Effect:
The best way to understand a topic is not to read about it, but write about it. The act of explaining something helps one to connect the dots and commit them to memory far better than the passive act of reading. (One reason I make these megathreads!)
22. Guerrilla Information War:
Conquerors once expanded territory by seizing land, but with the Digital Age it became more efficient to expand virtually by seizing minds. World War III is already happening, but it's being fought not for land but for clout.
23. Extended Cognition:
Our eyes are no longer our eyes. They've been reduced to optic nerves relaying what's seen by our new sense organs: phones & computers. We now see much more, but by extending our nervous systems outside ourselves, we've exposed them to a vulturous world.
24. 48-Hour Rule:
Our minds are in constant flux, and our stated opinions are often just flickers of untamed inspiration that we'd disown upon reflection. So, what if we had a 48 hour grace period to reflect on and retract our words before we were judged?

h/t: @ScottAdamsSays
25. Irony:

On reflection, I no longer think this is a workable plan:

26. Curse of Dimensionality:
The more detailed you make your data, the less insightful it becomes. Adding just 1 extra parameter to a graph causes the graph's volume to expand exponentially, dispersing the contained datapoints and negating meaningful associations between them. Image
27. Reactive Devaluation:
We judge a message by the messenger. In 2002, researchers Moaz et al showed Israelis a Palestine peace plan. When told it was authored by Palestinians, the participants rated it as far less fair than when told it was authored by the Israeli government.
28. Van Restorff Effect:
Things that stand out are more likely to be remembered. As such, news stories that are most unrepresentative of reality tend to be our most persistent representations of reality.
29. Trait Ascription Bias:
We tend to view ourselves as having a fluid personality that adapts to the environment, while viewing others as having fixed personalities. "I acted unreasonably because I was under pressure. He acted unreasonably because that's just who he is."
30. Wittgenstein's Ruler
The less you know of the measurer compared to the thing being measured, the less the measure measures the measured and the more it measures the measurer. E.g. if a stranger says most people are leftist, this is a better indicator the stranger is rightist.
31. Via Negativa:
We have a better understanding of what is not than of what is, e.g. we don't know if studying will make us an expert, but we do know not studying won't. Therefore, when in doubt, base decisions on avoiding what you should not do instead of doing what you should.
32. Misinformation Effect:
New info affects old memories. Researchers Loftus & Palmer showed people car crash footage, then asked how fast the cars were going when they smashed/collided/bumped/hit/contacted. The estimations depended on the specific verb used in the question: Image
33. The Fisher Protocol:
Leaders are often detached from the consequences of their decisions. Roger Fisher suggested implanting the country’s nuclear codes into a volunteer. To launch nukes, the President would have to personally kill the volunteer and thereby confront reality.
34. Ideograph:
Tyrants gain and maintain power by claiming to represent a higher authority: God, Nation, Justice, the People. These are intangible abstracts, to which any requirement can be attributed, authorizing the tyrant to do as he pleases. (see also: Glittering Generality)
35. Antiroutine:
To create original output, consume unusual input. Avoid trending videos, NYT bestsellers, widely cited papers. Instead. read ignored texts, plumb the past for forgotten ideas. Step outside the zeitgeist so you can see it with fresh eyes.

h/t: @mmay3r
36. Nocebo Effect:
Harmless substances can make people feel ill if they *think* the substance is harmful. According to a recent meta-analysis, most adverse effects of Covid jabs are not caused by the vaccine but by fear of the vaccine!…
37. Gaslighting:
The most misused word. It's not simply lying, it's trying to make someone doubt their sanity, like in the film Gaslight.

E.g. Zersetzung was a Stasi psyop to sneak into homes and rearrange furniture and reset clocks to convince dissidents they were going crazy.
38. Idiocy Saturation:
Online, people who don't think before they post are able to post more often than people who do. As a result, the average social media post is stupider than the average social media user. Worth remembering whenever Twitter dumbassery drives you to despair.
39. The Opinion Economy:
The rise of social media as the primary mode of interaction has caused us to overvalue opinions as a gauge of character. We are now defined more by what we say than what we actually do, and words, unlike deeds, are cheap and easy to counterfeit.
40. Signaling:
Our social behaviors are calibrated to demonstrate our genetic fitness to other humans, primarily to the opposite sex so we can fulfill our biological imperative of procreation.

Essentially, each of us is just a marketing campaign for our DNA.
And that’s it!

If you've read this far, you're my kind of human. Thank you for existing.

And if you want to see more of these threads, let me know with likes/retweets/comments.

Stay sane.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Gurwinder

Gurwinder Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @G_S_Bhogal

May 24
23 truths I wish I knew at 23.

1. One of the biggest sources of idiocy is the belief that you need to have an opinion on everything.
2. If you want to be right, don’t try to be right, try to be less wrong. If you want to be smart, don’t try to be smart, try to be curious and humble.
3. No one is paying as much attention to you as you are. People are too concerned with how they appear to others to care much about how you appear to them.
Read 24 tweets
May 4

In 20 tweets I’ll summarize 20 of the most useful principles I know.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes.

Value: A lifetime.

1. Dopamine Culture:
“Every kind of organized distraction tends to become more and more imbecile.”
— Aldous Huxley

The delay between desire & gratification is shrinking. Pleasure is increasingly more instant & effortless. Everything is becoming a drug.

What will it do to us?
2. False Consensus Effect:
“Everyone driving slower than you is an idiot and everyone driving faster than you is a maniac.”
— George Carlin

Our model of the world assumes people are like us. We don’t just do whatever we consider normal, we also consider normal whatever we do.
Read 22 tweets
Jan 2
In my years on Twitter, I’ve summarized hundreds of useful concepts into tweet form.

Here are the best concepts to help you navigate 2024, as chosen by the editors at @UnHerd

1. The Opinion Pageant:
The rise of social media as the primary mode of interaction has caused us to overvalue opinions as a gauge of character. We are now defined more by what we say than what we actually do, and words, unlike deeds, are easy to counterfeit.
2. Idiocy Saturation:
Online, people who don’t think before they post are able to post more often than people who do. As a result, the average social media post is stupider than the average social media user.
Read 12 tweets
Dec 27, 2023
In 2023 I learned hundreds of useful concepts.

Here are 20 of the best, to equip you for 2024:
1. Licensing Effect:
Believing you’re good can make you behave bad. Those who consider themselves virtuous worry less about their own behavior, making them more susceptible to ethical lapses.
A big cause of immorality is self-righteous morality.
2. Moravec's Paradox:
What's easy for humans is hard for AI, and vice versa. For instance, differential calculus requires far less compute than merely climbing steps. Thus, AI will likely replace most white collar experts before it replaces most blue collar laborers.
Read 22 tweets
Nov 25, 2023

In 20 tweets I’ll summarize 20 key principles to understand the world.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes.
Value: potentially a lifetime.
1. Herostratic Fame:
Many people would rather be hated than unknown. In Ancient Greece, Herostratus burned down the Temple of Artemis purely so he’d be remembered. Now we have “nuisance influencers” who stream themselves committing crimes and harassing people purely for clout.
2. Hotelling's Law:
Rival products (burgers, pop songs, political parties) tend to grow more alike over time, because creators copy more successful rivals to replicate their success and steal their customers/audiences.

Paradoxically, this increases the value of being different.
Read 22 tweets
Sep 3, 2023
Amid the bewildering cacophony of info, how do people decide what to believe?

They tend to automate their reasoning in 1 of 5 ways. As such, there are 5 kinds of "NPC", each with its own customs and shortcuts to "truth".

Learn to recognize each with this handy guide.
1. Conformists:
These people trust the process by which society reaches consensus, so accept the mainstream view on all things. The trouble is, consensus is often illusory: Image
2. Contrarians:
These are the antithesis of conformists: instead of believing whatever the mainstream believes, they believe the opposite. This is because they start from the position that society’s consensus-producing system is made to manipulate the masses. Image
Read 7 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Don't want to be a Premium member but still want to support us?

Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Or Donate anonymously using crypto!


0xfe58350B80634f60Fa6Dc149a72b4DFbc17D341E copy


3ATGMxNzCUFzxpMCHL5sWSt4DVtS8UqXpi copy

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us!