First, learn to see… that is what being astute is about

catdrawing_whiskersThis starts with a blog post by Johathan Fields

Put a business-person in front of a cat and ask them to draw a picture…

cat-cartoonScrawled on the page, with rare exception, you’ll see some kind of two-dimensional, cartoonish line-drawing of a cat. Not the cat sitting in front of that person, but the representation of a cat that person was taught to draw as a kid. The one that’s been imprinted on that person’s mind since she was nine. And they’ve got no idea that’s what they’ve just drawn. They just laugh it off and say, “I can’t draw.”

Put an artist in front of that same cat and you’ll get something quite different. A three-dimensional, shaded, life-like image of the actual cat. Well, of course, you say, she’s an artist. Thing is, that explains why the image is beautifully drawn, but it doesn’t explain why one person drew a “stock-art” cat that existed in her head and the other drew what she saw in front of her.

The difference is that the artist was trained and practiced not just in the art of drawing, but in the art of seeing. Dropping the filters, leaving behind the childhood patterns and imprints that stopped her from observing what was actually right in front of her. The objective image, rather than the conjured illusion of sight.

You can’t hope to draw the truth or build on the truth until you see and know the truth.

The non-artist never learned this, so she defaulted to pattern-recognition. And the sadder thing is, she had no idea she was doing this.

The best of the best don’t just do more with what they see, they see more before they do.

I wonder what might happen if we all spent more time learning to see?

Now, how and why does it apply to you? Because it is not only artists, or not artists that inhabit the world. It is you... and someone who can see more... more truthfully, closer to how it actually is.

The second part is illustrated by Charlie Munger... Intelligence by MY standards is 130, which is probably 160 or so on the IQ tests, uses 40 spiritual capacities to understand and apply all the knowledge that he gleaned from his studies of psychology and other social sciences, to fulfill his bottomless curiosity.

Here is the Harvard University speech from 1995. 1

You may need to listen to it a lot... and even then you probably won't hear a lot... because you lack the capacities, the curiosity, the desire to learn and see the world correctly.

But if you do, your reward will be the good life...

I dare to say that the source of unhappiness, lack of success, lack of health is these cognitive biases: your inability to see what is, and your tendency to be fooled.


  1. The Psychology of Human Misjudgement by Charlie Munger (also known as Charlie Munger: 25 Cognitive Bias talk)
    Harvard Faculty Club, October 6, 1994.

    This acclaimed talk by Charlie Munger, the billionaire and business partner of Warren Buffett, was been pass around in the classes of most high level MBA programs and between value investors, who seek to improve their critical decision skills.

    In 2005, Charlie decide to revise his talk from memory and unassisted by any research. Because he thought he could do better at age 81 than he did more than ten years earlier when he knew less and was more harried by a crowded life and was speaking from rough notes instead of revising transcripts. (In the Resources)

    Charlie Munger's 25 Causes of Cognitive Bias: The number in brackets shows where in the speech it is in the video above.

    1. Reward and Punishment Superresponse Tendency (2:30)
    2. Simple, Pain-Avoiding Psychological Denial (5:45)
    3. Disliking/Hating Tendency (6:34)
    4. Doubt Avoidance Tendency (9:55)
    5. Influence-from-Mere Association Tendency (12:07)
    6. Reciprocation Tendency (19:27)
    7. Social-Proof Tendency (22:40)
    8. Inconsistency Avoidance Tendency (26:00)
    9. Contrast-Misreaction Tendency (26:23)
    10. Authority-Misinfluence Tendency (29:51)
    11. Deprival Superreaction Tendency (31:27)
    12. Envy/Jealousy Tendency (34:37)
    13. Drug-Misinfluence Tendency (35:28)
    14. Mis-gambling Compulsion (35:51)
    15. Liking/Loving Tendency and Disliking/Hating Tendency (38:13)
    16. Availability-Misweighing Tendency (41:52)
    17. Stress-Influence Tendency (49:23)
    18. Reason-Respecting Tendency (50:25)
    19. Use-It-or-Lose-It Tendency (52:47)
    20. Stress-Influence Tendency (52:55)
    21. Senescence-Misinfluence Tendency (53:58)
    22. Twaddle Tendency (54:04)
    23. Lollapalooza Tendency — Confluences of Psychological Tendencies Acting in Favor of a Particular Outcome (55:13)
    24. Benefits of this Psychological Thought System (1:00:50)
    25. Special Knowledge Problems Lie Buried in the Thought System (1:07:08)

    Transcription of the speech |
    White Paper, reviewed by Munger |
    Influence by R. Cialdini |
    Thinking, Fast and Slow by D. Kahneman |
    Judgment Under Uncertainty by Tversky |
    Poor Charlie's Almanack |