Weekly I/O #52

Running and Writing, Running and Meditation, No Hedged Words, Strong and Vulnerable Things, Reflexivity Theory

Cheng-Wei Hu | 胡程維
4 min readFeb 10, 2023

Weekly I/O is a project where I share my learning Input/Output. Every Sunday, I write an email newsletter with five things I discovered and learned that week.

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The below is extracted from the email sent on Feb 05, 2023

1. Stop every day right after we feel like we can write more. Save the excitement and carry it over to the next day to let momentum kick off tomorrow’s work smoothly.

Book: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir

The writer Haruki Murakami loves running. Sometimes he runs faster than usual but stops the running session earlier. His reason is to let the exhilaration he feels at the end of each run carry over to the next day. Therefore, the next day he can feel excited again going running.

He applies the same principle to his writing. Haruki stops every day right at the point after he feels like he can write more. He saves the excitement and carries it over to the next day. By doing so, the next day’s work goes surprisingly smoothly.

This reminds me of Weekly I/O #8.1 about improvisational productivity. While Haruki kicks off the work using previously saved excitement as fuel, Daniel Gross kicks off by bundling thinking the work with doing it. Thinking and planning are the fun parts that can generate excitement as the momentum to finish the work.

2. I run to acquire a void. Emotions are not strong or consistent enough to sustain a vacuum. But thoughts and ideas that invade my emotions as I run remain subordinate to that void.

Book: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir

These paragraphs from Haruki Murakami beautifully describe the meditative nature of running:

“I just run. I run in a void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void.

“Human beings’ emotions are not strong or consistent enough to sustain a vacuum. What I mean is, the kinds of thoughts and ideas that invade my emotions as I run remain subordinate to that void. Lacking content, they are just random thoughts that gather around that central void.

“As I run I tell myself to think of a river. And clouds. But essentially I’m not thinking of a thing. All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence.”

3. State your conjecture sounds like law of physics. Avoid mealy-mouthed allusions because ChatGPT can do all the hedged answer already. Solid and arbitrary statement sparks more comments and feedback.

Thoughts

This is something I’m working on myself. I always want to avoid arbitrary statements because of my intellectual insecurity and philosophical belief in skepticism. You can probably tell this by how many “can” and “might” I used in my past articles to hedge and avoid things being too absolute.

However, hedged words are usually not useful because they hedge the responsibility of being wrong. Mealy-mouthed allusions like “this might be true” and “there can be no right answer” essentially entail zero practical value. It rarely sparks feedback because there’s nothing to support or against. What’s worse, given all the embedded political correctness genes, large language models (LLMs) applications like ChatGPT are already too good at hedged statements.

In the episode Kunal Shah: Core Human Motivations [The Knowledge Project Ep. #141] (covered in WeeklyI/O#50), Kunal also mentioned he makes his statement on Twitter sound like the law of physics all the time. Even though those statements are just his conjecture, he thinks people should know this is Twitter, not an academic scientific journal. Therefore, not everything has to be strictly supported by legitimate evidence.

In the book It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences (covered in Write Better Sentences), the author also states similar things. The reader should understand your statement is a generalization and subject to debate — no disclaimers are required.

4. What makes us strong are big things. What makes us vulnerable are little things.

Thoughts

Just another shower thoughts.

5. Reflexivity theory: positive feedback loops between expectations and economic fundamentals can cause price trends that substantially and persistently deviate from equilibrium prices

Article: Reflexivity Definition

This theory is like the Matthew effect applied to the economy and finance world. Like what we covered in Weekly I/O#49.3 about Relative Age Effect (RAE), accumulated advantage can lead to positive feedback loops. However, compared to Relative Age Effect (RAE), I think reflexivity theory (or Matthew effect in price) should be more short-term and more certainly will return to their equilibrium prices.

That’s it. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy it. If you would like to receive the content every Sunday, sign up below 😎

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Cheng-Wei Hu | 胡程維

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