“You know at first, it may seem weird that there is this guy who mainly keeps to himself and wears a trench coat. But then you find out he carries around a concealed sword at all times because he is immortal and the only way he can die is if someone cuts his head off … ”

People not ruled by emotions are generally internally consistent(*). If they do not make sense, it is typically because not all facts are known.

(*) It may be that emotional people are also internally consistent but they are not following any kind of system I can understand?!

I was reminded about the Highlander concept, when DW told me that one of her colleagues had told her I did not look like someone who could eat a lot. (I usually eat for three people at dinner.)

But consider these _unknown_ facts.

1) My bodyfat percentage is less than 10%. Muscle is denser than fat. Hence I do not take up as much volume, and so I am heavier than I look. Most people underestimate my weight by 10-15 pounds.

2) I weigh 175 pounds. If I had normal, that is, “American normal”, body fat concentrations of around 24%, I would weigh 190-195 pounds.

3) I only eat one big meal a day.

So what is seen is some guy looking like he weighs 160 pounds eating what looks like three meals of a guy of almost 200 pounds, yet it all makes sense.

By assuming that people are internally consistent, a lot can be learned about the underlying fundamentals by observing strange behavior. Of course in order to successfully pull that off, one must possess a lattice work of mental models. For instance, in the three points above, it must be known that such diets exist, that muscle is denser than fat, and what the normal ranges are. Not only must these be known as facts, they must be part of active thoughts.

I used to use such deductions walking around in suburbia. Let’s assume that it is very likely that your neighbors do not make more than you on average, that is, if you make average wages. Now observe that they park several cars in their driveways, an occasional boat, and their garages are full of stuff. What can we say about their financial situation? When the tide went out with the subprime collapse it turned out as predicted. Each street had a number of foreclosures on it.

Originally posted 2009-08-08 00:59:55.