Reflections on the intersection of economics, history, politics, psychology and science

Olbert’s Laws

When I was a teenager I started keeping track of what I called Olbert’s Laws. These were more like aphorisms than true laws…but I thought “laws” sounded catchier than “aphorisms” :). I didn’t invent all of them…but as you’ll see that itself is related to one of the laws.

This is the current, occasionally updated collection. Enjoy!

No matter who you are and what you can do there are always at least a dozen people who can do everything you can do at least as well as you can.

Sturgeon’s Hypothesis says “90% of scientists are bottle-washers”. The trick is to be in as many of the 10% categories as you can, simultaneously.

Any response time longer than zero is too long or soon will be.

People by and large structure their lives so as to minimize the amount of time spent in conscious thought.

When the ship sails all debts are paid

Tomorrow is promised to no one.

Always steal from the best.

The other side always gets a move. But so do you.

Learning always involves some degree of pounding your head against the wall. But it’s ultimately worth it.

No instruction manual ever contains more than 70% of what you need to know to do a job.

Never put anything in an email or online post you wouldn’t want to be seen on a billboard in your downtown (for elected officials)

We each speak for the majority