Every problem is a calibration problem. That’s why most advice is basically useless: it tells you what to do, but doesn’t tell you when to stop. Therefore, the best pieces of advice are calibration advice. What we need is a metric to know if we are doing well, or if we should change our habits (and in which direction). For example, here are two poor pieces of advice:
"You should spend more time reading blogs, because compared to traditional media, bloggers have more freedom to communicate in original ways, and are more accountable when they say something false."
"You should spend less time reading blogs, because keeping up with a big pile of subscriptions takes a lot of time and makes you anxious."
Neither of these is really useful. Instead, we can produce one piece of calibration advice:
"After catching up with your backlog of blog posts, ask yourself what you remember out of it. If you can’t say what half of the posts were about, you should probably clean up your subscriptions."
Of course, that doesn’t sound like the timeless advice my grandmother received from her grandmother. To make it compelling, we need to make it rhyme:
"Before you subscribe to another blog,
check what you took home from your backlog."
Now that sounds like ancient wisdom.
Thereafter is my humble attempt at writing calibration proverbs. As a non-native, English’s pronunciation is still a mystery to me, so the rhymes might be a bit wonky. Anyways, may these proverbs contribute to making 2022 a better year than 2021.
"He who thinks a claim by evidence is backed,
can he predict the effect size just from the abstract?"
"Only when you leave a long conversation,
you can tell if it warranted your apprehension."
"If you don’t enjoy the taste of tea,
seek how to infuse it properly."
"Always check for bikes when you get out of your car.
"When checking the source teaches you something new,
the source of the source you should check too."
"One hour with your kids is worth two hours online,
according to Han et al twenty twenty one."
"Man whose roommates wear t-shirts in winter,
would better calm down with the goddamn heater."
What other calibration proverbs should we transmit to our grandchildren?
Thanks to Justis for the proofreading and rhyme consulting.