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Paul Graham

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The more you realize that most judgements are greatly influenced by random, extraneous factors—that most people judging you are more like a fickle novel buyer than a wise and perceptive magistrate—the more you realize you can do things to influence the outcome.
--
"Two Kinds Of Judgment", April 2007

 
Paul Graham

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The simple fact is that Chairman Mao was a pretty perceptive political thinker. You can deplore what he did in China and still realize that not everything he wrote was the sheer embodiment of evil. [...] Is this really how you want to start judging politicians -- by their favorite philosophers? [...] Actually thinking about issues has gone way out of style on the right. It's much easier to march in lockstep with populist goons like Glenn Beck. [...] It's appalling that so many LGF readers are buying into this insanity. What's wrong with you people?

 
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I myself, as a person, have been influenced by many writers and many things, and my writing has felt the impact of the writing of many writers, some relatively unknown and unimportant, some downright bad. But probably the greatest influence of them all when an influence is most effective — when the man being influenced is nowhere near being solid in his own right — has been the influence of the great tall man with the white beard, the lively eyes, the swift wit and the impish chuckle.

 
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Statistical criteria should (1) be sensitive to change in the specific factors tested, (2) be insensitive to changes, of a magnitude likely to occur in practice, in extraneous factors.

 
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You are amazed that matter can form a man when matter is all mixed up at random and so many things go into making a person. But do you not realize that before matter forms someone it has also stopped along the way to make a stone, lead, coral, a flower, or a comet because there was too much or too little of it to make a human being? No wonder, then, that an infinite amount of incessantly moving and changing matter makes up the few animals, vegetables and minerals that we see. No wonder, either, that if you throw dice a hundred times, they will all show the same numbers at some point.
This movement of matter, then, could not fail to produce something, and whatever it is will always be admired by the unthinking person who does not realize how close it came to not being made.

 
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