Thinking for Yourself
August 29, 2017
Author: Bianca Yang
Today, I’m going to start an experiment. I’ll write my standard English-language mumbo-jumbo first, then I’ll write a more journalistic piece in Chinese. Both of these pieces are designed to elevate my thinking in each language. My skill in Chinese lower, so I’ll start at a lower level of thinking and work my way up to more strategic, original writings.
I want to talk about Charlie Munger, the man who is often known as Buffett’s right-hand man. So many people have discovered and come to glorify Munger that he rightly calls himself a cult leader. His 3-hour cult session for the Daily Journal Corp has vastly outgrown the capacity of the Daily Journal space and is seeping into all corners of the universe and financial meatspace. I won’t deny that Munger is a smart man, but I do want to caution people from attaching themselves too heavily to him.
Munger has been right on so many times, it’s hard to see why you would bother searching for another diamond in the rough. Munger is now 93, but his ability to keep up with modern happenings and comment intelligently on just about everything is simply remarkable. It’s almost like the world and all its events are his orchard. Listening to him speak is like going with him on a tour of this orchard. He is the master garden keeper, who picks items off the trees at his leisure to comment on.
I won’t deny that I am a Munger cultist. My writing surely has revealed as much. I certainly would have benefited from listening to him a bit more when making investment decisions (ahem Valeant). But the desire to imitate Munger has to end somewhere, so I can develop my own model of how the world works and how I fit into the inner workings.
Imitation is a great tool because it helps you build up the fundamentals. Novice artists will imitate prescribed styles of drawing because those are the best ways of doing things. Young children mimic their parents’ way of speech. New people in a social group imitate their peers’ actions to get up to speed on the accepted norms and behavior. But to become a mature member of a group, you have to demonstrate unique thought and distinct ability. You have to contribute.
I’m not entirely sure where I want to go with this piece, so I will stop it here and say that you want to surround yourself with people who freely share their thinking process and who respect you. A sign of their respect is that they are willing to be challenged and to challenge you on your thoughts. Also check for honesty, because smart, ambitious and dishonest people will seek to tilt the playing field so you fall off the edge (while they stand on high ground).
我最近又開始對科幻有興趣了。我到此為止最欣賞的科幻作家還是阿希莫夫。我總之是放不下他的 I, Robot 選集。我是因為他那一本含著深意的書才開始尋找科幻夢想家。我試過 Philip Dick, David Brin, Robert A. Heinlein, Neal Stephenson 但還是找不到跟阿西摩夫有一樣默契的作家。雖然如此，我是認為隨時做事比沒做比較好，所以撿起一本最近很熱氣的中文科幻書。其實這本書是十年前出版，我是落後到這種程度才可說是最近才發現有這個作品。這本你們應該聽過吧：「三體」。
這本書的劇情你可已在 Wikipedia 上瀏覽一下吧。我本來不是因為被劇情吸引才開始讀這本書，我是想用這本書來提高我的中文程度。我幾年前，在高中的時候，發現我的中文程度以退步到一個完全要不得的水平了。但我對正常的教學方式和刻本沒什麼興趣。我一想到透過網路找對話老師就覺得非常羞恥，所以只好用自己的精神怒力去找 YouTube 短片，新聞報紙，書本，漫畫，卡通，小說，等等的資料去補習。我現在的手段沒有特別有效，但我還是能看見我每天漸漸的進步。反正陳腐的片語說：「千里之行，是於足下」。
「你不必有希望而承擔，也不必成功而堅持。」 “One need not hope in order to undertake, nor succeed in order to persevere.” – William the Orange