Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A few things I learned from Remus at The Woodpile Report

Offer a credible cover-story when you "go-dark" 

Ol' Remus would likely have been mortified over the interest in his disappearance. 

If his intention had been to go-dark, then he failed miserably.

The human brain does not like dissonance. It worries when presented with puzzles and riddles the way your tongue probes the place where you are missing a tooth.

When the time comes to go-dark, offer a credible or even an incredible cover story.

"I just got a job on an off-shore oil rig in Turkmenistan and will be working 90 hours a week and there is no internet connection." Who would question that?

"I won the lottery" or "I added another girl to my harem" or "I am touring casinos as the backup drummer for a rock band" or "I don't trust Silicon Valley so I am going dark".

Problem solved. Most people will accept the story at face-value and leave you in peace.

Check original sources, draw your own conclusions

Click-bait is designed to capture our attention. Sometimes it is accurate. Often it is not.

Hand-over-hand your way back to the original sources. Read the entire article and chase down the reference links. THEN draw your own conclusion. It might be very different than the click-bait headline.

Units matter

I once sent Remus an image purporting to be radiation levels due to Fukushima's leaking reactor.

A short time later, Remus sent it back. "The units are in meters. I don't know of any form of radiation that is measured in meters. I think it is wave heights across the Northern Pacific."

Sure as God made little green apples, that is what it was. Remus didn't even need to chase it back to original sources. Remus looked at the image's "key" and immediately deduced that I had been duped.

Cui bono?

Who benefits?

This is not an absolute test. There are altruistic people in the world. Nevertheless, the question can help otherwise murky coincidences to pop into focus by providing an appropriate focal plane.

Stay away from crowds

Most of the time, people act on the basis of enlightened self-interest. Sometimes their self-interest does not align with your best interests. "Most of the time..." is not the same as "All of the time..."

Crowds invoke the laws of large numbers. Once the crowd exceeds twenty, it is safe to bet that somebody in the crowd is emotionally disturbed to the point where they are, or should be, medicated.

Crowds promote dilution of responsibility. "Responsibility" is slaved to the individual. When the crowd becomes large enough, say more than four people, the sense of individual responsibility evaporates. The crowd is capable of heinous acts that the individuals would never contemplate on their own.

Bernard's Law: The effect of combining half-wits is multiplicative. Two half-wits have a collective quarter-wit when combined. Three half-wits have an eight-of-a-wit to work with. The IQ of "Our vibrant tapestry of diversity" averages about 85. According to Bernard's Law, combining ten people with an IQ of 85 results in an organism that functions with an IQ of 20.

I am sure there are other lessons I learned. Please feel free to add to the list in comments.


  1. I communicated with Remus on a couple of occasions, the first of which was to offer money to help with his blog...he flatly rejected it. Later comms regarding Appalachia, and the redoubt, contrasted with pictures I sent him of my farm...he said it was too easy for tanks to roll over my position, no way he'd be caught with his pants down like that. I loved the way he thought about EVERYTHING...a truly Renaissance Man.

  2. I think the thing I learned is that, even though things are bad and trending worse, you can't focus on that to the exclusion of all else. Remus always had art and science in the mix. I'm trying to revamp my daily life so that I don't "over focus" on anything.With my personality, that can be difficult, but I persevere.

  3. what I learned from 'Ol Remus was to be in control of your AO, whether it is a large area away from population centers, or simply your house in the suburbs. I still have many lessons to be implemented. But I keep on at it every day.

  4. We, meaning you and I and your readers, matter.