Nov 29, 2017

Cowen on reducing complacency in your children

Tyler Cowen recently appeared (a) on James Altucher's podcast. He's much more pessimistic as a guest than as a host.

Here's a bit I liked enough to transcribe:

Altucher: How can I get my kids to be optimistic? Because I feel like my kids, they're not necessarily pessimistic, but they're not necessarily willing to try or experiment with new things. I feel that they are scared about the future and what they need to do to have a mediocre future.

Cowen: How old are they?

Altucher: 18 and 15.

Cowen: It's too late.


Cowen: They'll probably do fine. But whatever you would have wanted to do differently, it's probably too late. Maybe 15, you could still do something.

Have it be clear that their bequest won't be large; have them live somewhere that's not so great & not so stimulating; let them be bored; and insulated them, somewhat, from information technology.

Maybe you did those things, I don't know.

Altucher: And what will happen then? Will they be encouraged to seek out dynamism because they'll be so bored?

Cowen: Possibly. It increases the variance of their outcomes – if you move them to the Dakotas, it could also work out badly, right? So there's risk, and there's certainty of a good-enough outcome.

So you can't have everything. If you want them to have a chance of being truly top achievers, you want to introduce more variance.

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