52 things learned by Kent Hendricks

Here are a few:

Contrary to the beliefs of roughly 33% of Americans, Kansas is not the flattest state. In fact, it’s the 9th flattest state, and it’s one of only two Great Plains states to make the top ten (the other is North Dakota). The flattest state is actually Florida, the second flattest state is Illinois, and the least flattest is West Virginia. (Disruptive Geo)

…The average high school GPA of a representative sample of 700 millionaires in the United States is 2.9. (Eric Barker, Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong)

…Dinosaurs roamed the earth for a long time. Tyrannosaurus Rex is closer in time to humans than to Stegosaurus. (Peter Brannen, The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions)

…Pepperoni pizza is subject to more government regulation than plain cheese pizza. That’s because cheese pizzas are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, while pepperoni pizzas—which have meat—are regulated by the Department of Agriculture. (Baruch Fischhoff and John Kadvany, Risk: A Very Short Introduction)

Here is the full list, interesting throughout.


First. Being a millionaire used to mean you were rich, but with decades of inflation it means you have enough to retire on $40,000 a year (at the customary 4% spending rate). So, due to the statistical distribution of wealth, a representative sample of 700 millionaires probably contains 600 with wealth between $1 million and $2 million. They are mostly boring, diligent, middle-class people who did the same thing for 35 years and saved a decent amount. I wonder what the GPA of people with $10 million and over is.

That is a fair question, but remember the IQ and wealth scatter plot, the second on this page.

The way I interpret it is that while IQ might say something about potential, not necessarily anything about focus or direction.

Also, are they counting home equity as part of the $1 million? If they are talking about people with a $500K house and $600K portfolio it's really basically middle class.

You all know the median wealth in the US is $100k for a household right? $1M is in no way middle class; it puts you in the top 10% of households. Granted, it's totally doable with a good professional job and diligent saving, but let's have some perspective here.

Credit Suisse says the median wealth in the US per adult is $67,700. That's not much that's pretty lousy compared to other developed countries. In Australia -- a poorer country -- it's $191,500.


This might be a bit warped if US social security payments aren't considered personal wealth. In Australia we have forced savings for retirement that belongs to individuals even though they can't access it until certain conditions are met.

I think the difference between those two figures is likely to be entirely explained by social security.

It's not easy to find a figure for average lifetime SS benefits, but back of the envelope calculations suggest it's well over the $125K difference between those two numbers.

The internet tells me the average social security payment is $17,000 a year. That's a hefty amount. The comparison is complicated as we have a comparable old age pension available to everyone who is old and has inadequate forced savings, which is most current retirees. This is funded out of general taxation revenue, but my impression is social security kind of is too.

For those above 55, it is around top 18% https://dqydj.com/net-worth-by-age-calculator-united-states/ and age is not correlated with IQ, so if you pick out millionaires a large section will be upper-middle class older people of no particular distinction.

seriously "no particular distinction"
is pretty bold and reductive claim
lets see your evidence

it all depends on the definition of millionaire. 1 million in liquid assets for an individual is still a significant amount. for a household, two millions.

See my comment below. These millionaires were studied in the 1980s. Totally changes the picture.

"the second flattest state is Illinois"

I rate driving North/South in Illinois as among the worst experiences on planet earth, made worse by Chicago traffic, and worse still because at least California has scenery and mountains, Illinois just never-ending fields of windmills

#6 The history of the domestication and cultivation of the almond (and it's theft from it's native habitat in ME) is fascinating.

#27 Proving that a Scot will go where a Viking shall not, and probably where no-one else will, which is why Scots are pretty much everywhere now.

Driving south or west from Chicago in Illinois is bad, but there are some things to notice. You can see things that are 5-10 miles away and the sky is huge.

there is no more beautiful place in the world than all those farmlands south of Chicago

so many memories

for example

that one time at the country fair when her hair was that exact tinge of new-straw-late-August-brown, her eyes were brown too although later in life, when we were so lucky to have all those sons and daughters, one very two years for a decade !, later in life, her eyes would be a little more greenish, like a line of trees against the sky is nothing else but greener as the sun is setting - I remember ----

ok, ok, so you skipped ahead, and here I am again saying they would be more greenish, compared to how they were in those happy days when they were brown (Color de cafe, as they say in Amarillo and Palos Verdes - let those who can understand, understand) and here I am again saying that I would not really have known happiness in life as well as I do if I had not known the happy way she laughed at the other 4-H contestants

God I would give a billion dollars to drive south from Chicago again and see her laugh again, I would not even mind much if her little pals from the 4-H band were just as much distant , in their shy way, as they were then

county fair , not country fair (I have been reading too much Hardy lately)

remember, whoever you are, happy times

pray, and pray some more, because only (with a few exceptions) in prayer, in this world, are we really aware of this

God loves us all

God I would give a billion dollars to drive south from Chicago again and see her laugh again, I would not even mind much if her little pals from the 4-H band were just as much distant, in their shy way, as they were then

because I made her laugh and smile and she made me laugh and smile

Yeah, as a native of hilly Western PA, I rather disliked all that flatness. It's disorienting, like being adrift at sea.

Fortunatus et ille, deos qui novit agrestis

qui rerum cognoscerit causas


vela dabant et LAETI spumas salis aere ruebant

if you figure this post out treat yourself to the best pizza you have ever had, Sicilian or not

this comment, not this post!

"Not very much used to be the only words I knew in English

well, very much, too, very much and not very much"

here, backwards, is what that was about

fields praising Vergilius from Latin in lines some ... (illustrating)

county cook old dear from Antarctic-ward (multiple) counties of beauty the illustrating

diapason of device rhetorical the

now have you before heard haven't you if which of

by followed

blimp colonel of times and life the from quote a

sartor resartus - it was a little more subtle than that, but that is what it was

why do I bother?

why do I bother? because somebody, somewhere, will understand this:

If you need somebody you can trust, trust God.

failing that, trust somebody who has trusted God.

Failing that, trust somebody who has trusted somebody who has trusted God.

Trust me, you will never find anyone in this world who can give you better advice than God can give you.

And trust me a little more ----
I have seen the power of prayer, giving life to a dog or a cat who was ready to die alone, who moments after their lowest point in life saw that they were loved - in this world!, for God's sake - and who revived and, full of the joy of life, lived many more years because of the power of prayer
(my prayer, the author humbly said ....)

I have seen the power of prayer redeeming the suffering of old people with thousands of sins in their heart, turning their suffering at three o'clock in the afternoon to joy at four o'clock in the afternoon

and I have seen more than that.

that is why I bother.

Like you, I have lived through millions of moments, and I know, as you know, that there are an infinite number of angels, an almost infinite number of animals worthy of our love, and just a finite number of us

It is no small thing to be a friend to a creature who never had a friend in this world.

that is why I bother, so, please, don't think ....

don't think - "oh my goodness, I am reading even more sub-literate words on the internet"

don't think --- "oh what am I doing reading this" "this nonsense" (as the Brits like to say, God bless their hearts)


don't think that, think this

It is no small thing to be a friend to a creature who never had a friend in this world.

Look at it this way. Cowen and Tabarrok look at the numbers - a billion or two people lifted out of poverty in the last few decades - and they think, hey, if you care about someone, and have the imagination to see that someone living a life of poverty a few decades ago was or should have been a friend of yours, and then see the story like this: the person you cared so much about, that third world person (I say this as someone who has fallen in love at least once, and more than once, with someone born in what we used to call the third world) one day, was told that the next few decades would not be the future life of poverty one would have guessed was their life in 1985, but the life of something better, from the economic point of view ----

because of good human economic theory -

well, have that imagination.

Pray for those who suffer, or who would have suffered if you had not prayed for them.

Pray for our poor socialist Pope Herod, who gave up so much so long ago but has forgotten the goodness he used to feel for those who suffer the most, and who,like poor King Herod, praises those who kill the innocent.

Pray for those people with student loans who never once knew the pleasure of being a student who was appreciated, a student who was considered the potential equal of their teachers instead of a source of cash. Pray for the teachers who exploited their students, and pray that they will, one day, help pay off all those loans, because it is the right thing to do.

And if you need to have celebrities mentioned, even though you can fly in a fast plane for hours over this beautiful country of ours and not fly over, not even once, a town in which a celebrity lives ------ Pray for poor Obama, and the poor Bushes, but most of all pray for the people you have been lucky enough to meet in this life.

But pray with thanks in your heart -

thanks that so many millions of people, hundreds of millions, have had, recently, lives of prosperity instead of the lives of poverty that it looked like they were going to have in 1985

and pray with thanks in your heart for Michael Novak, and people like me who bought his books, back in the day, and who prayed for happiness for people

in this world and in the next

Philippians, Chapters 1-4

that is why I bother.

I understand this world, and I understand how beautiful it looks, far below the clouds, far below the place where sunlight in its immutable and almost golden and always (I remember!) unfathomable diapasons turns to blue, azzuro, sky blue,

God loves us all
you more than me
but that is another story

that is another story but it is a quick one

God is my friend

One day I thought that maybe he might be, if he is anything like me, tired of always being expected to give more love than he gets

so one day I said, God, my young friend, I am totally fine if you love me less, we will still be friends

best of friends
my best friend

that is how friends talk to each other

the funny thing is

I meant what I said

it is no small thing to be a friend to someone who never expected to have a friend like you in this world


Philippians, chapters 1-4, don't under-rate it

That surgery thing is terrible, because there is nothing you can do about it. If you have brain surgery on a Saturday (my nephew) or laser eye surgery at 5pm on a Friday (me), it's because you had an emergency, not because you scheduled it.

So you have to go into it knowing the odds suck.

While I don't have time to look into it right now, I believe further research suggests these claims are bogus. The death rate is more likely higher on certain days because of the case mix on those days, not because of worse care.

Well, that certainly seems likely from our experience. We would have avoided those if we could.

That one didn't make sense to me because doctors and nurses have different rotations and shifts, so it's not like the Friday or weekend doctor is working his fifth or sixth straight day without a break.

Doctors with more seniority can choose more desirable shifts in many systems.

However, I don't believe the evidence is there that this is driven by staff performance.

I have noticed that doctors who are on call while at a party may have at least one drink.

Which reminds me of an unrelated funny story.

My girlfriend took me to meet a neighbor. On the way she tells me that he's a doctor and now in charge of scheduling liver transplants. So we get there and start chatting and he offers a glass of wine and I say sure, and he gives me the biggest glass of wine ever. Which I still find hilarious.

If you want to mine some interesting contradictions, it might be that doctors know alcohol is bad, but doctors tend to drink.

The phrase “rule of thumb” refers to an eighteenth century law that specified the maximum width of a rod a man could use to beat his wife without being prosecuted.

A 100% canard. See here and many other place where it has been totally debunked.

Yes, it's disturbing this was not caught

Plus all the catchy social psychology entries... Didn't this year's Many Labs debunk that handwashing one, even?

Re #14: Does that mean that if Wayne's World were re-made today, they would ask if the rich man in the other car had an iPhone instead of Grey Poupon?

Nah. Grey Poupon is supposed to be exclusive while iPhones are marketed as something all the cool kids are supposed to have.

Also, I've been given three iphones so far as hand me downs by people wanting to upgrade so their phones would have a higher number than their previous phone had, so when you get to a point where Queenslanders are using them they are clearly no longer exclusive.

skippy, for what is worth
our model she has been watching
your aussienews on the youtube and apparently
usacablenews is a lot dumber tshit=tso
than your
kangarooeaters' aussie news and we are
wondering if it is true what the american sociology dept.
said about newzealand girls?

I'm guessing you're referring to this New Zealand study that has followed children for 46 years:


As far as I am aware, the conclusions are sound, although I don't know which exact part you are are referring to.

The study would probably make a good Marginal Revolution post.

1the link you linked is not a study it is a sandwich narrative about a study
the study sounds interesting but it is not accessible from your link
2 "as far as I am aware" is not a scientific standard
has the study been replicated?

You do know that I am responding to a vaguely worded question about something someone saw on the news, right? Please go right ahead and provide them with a link to the paper if you think I'm being slack.

On the pizza thing, why don't we refactor? Put one organization in charge of both dietary information and food safety. Put another in charge of drugs and medicine.

Are food stamps still run by the department of agriculture? Crazy.

Whatever the levels of spending you want, you should agree that the organization can be streamlined.

If you think that two agencies regulating pizza is crazy, you should see how many agencies are involved in managing salmon in the west: https://www.fws.gov/salmonofthewest/charge.htm

It's called WIC now, and what's crazy is having both WIC and farm subsidies, which is a classic case of log-rolling, pork barrel politics. Eliminate them both for maximum bureaucratic streamlining of the Dept. of Agriculture.

Food stamps were originally sold to Congress partially as a way to get rid of all the stocks of agricultural commodities the federal government owned because of price supports.

Searching on my mobile, I can’t find the link to the original millionaire study anywhere. Every article referencing it just links to the book. Has anyone been able to locate this?

A search of Barker's book (and googling) reveals it comes from Thomas Stanley "The Millionaire Mind" Table 1.1 via Shawn Achor, in his book " Before Happiness" p. 5. However, that is college GPA not high school. Also the research took place in the 80s so being a millionaire was more meaningful. However, the sample is not random, it is chosen specifically from neighborhoods thought to be rich.

Thanks Josh, your help in digging for this is appreciated. :) Sounds like I'll be reserving judgment re the study's conclusions for now.

If West Virginia is the least flattest state, why is Florida not the most flattest state?

Or: is some lesson in grammar pertaining to superlative forms NOT the 53rd lesson Kent Hendricks learned in 2018? (Quick, Kent: you have ninety-six hours left!)

I'm pretty sure that "least flattest state" was intended to be a humorous construct.

--in which case "most flattest" would have been a fine risible construction to apply to the prevailing topography of Florida, whose growing fame as a land of opportunistic sinkholes begins to match its enduring fame as home to the swampy depression known as the Everglades.

5. Doesn't make any sense at all.

Sure it does. Swinging down the stairs, the outer wall curves in the same natural arc as your arm. Coming up, the inner wall of the stairs gets in your way.

Yep. Go on a castle staircase (or any spiral staircase), imagine yourself swinging a sword, and it is obvious.

Lefty knights for the win?

I guess back then you were not allowed to be a lefty.

Fighting may be why a significant amount of humans are left handed. Chimps have a dominant hand but there appears to be an equal split between left and right. It is possible humans became majority right handed because it makes learning skills by copying others easier. But when the majority of people are right handed, left handed people can have an advantage in a fight and that advantage was enough to keep a significant portion of the population left handed.

But this is only a "just so" story. I got nothing to back this up.

35. The gene variant for skin cancer -- the extra pale allele -- probably occurs in perhaps one in every 100,000 births. It was apparently common in north Asia 13,000 years ago but didn't become common in Europe until around 6,000 years ago. A likely reason for it only taking off at that point is the spread of agriculture which presumably reduced the amount of vitamin D in the diet and also probably resulted in changes in clothing technology that reduced exposure to sunlight and so being able to produce more vitamin D in skin that was exposed was probably extremely useful. As a result northern Europeans are the most genetically vulnerable to skin cancer population in the world.

As a righty the idea seems reasonable, but I would want a significance test of a random sample of castles with spiral stair cases to make sure the result is distinguishable from chance.

Well that righty comment went in the wrong place.

#19 seems most useful, and that's a gamble I make claiming this after reading the first 19:

"You are 44% more likely to die if you have surgery on a Friday (1.44% chance) compared to a Monday (1.00% chance). The likelihood of death jumps 82% compared to Monday if you have surgery on the weekend. (Dan Ariely)"

"When you share something with someone, they are 19 percent more likely to share with someone else. And that person is 7 percent more likely to share with yet another person. (Dacher Keltner, The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence)"

Bad logic structure! They are 19% more likely [than what!] to share with someone else??? More is by nature comparative, and what is being compared should be specified!!! Also, the trans sensitive singular "they" makes me feel like puking!

Agreed, and I felt the same about his #7 "On average, a piece of gossip gets passed on to 2.3 people—often people who are higher status than you. " Who are these higher status people - the people doing the gossiping or the ones receiving the gossip? Does the information move up or down the chain of command?

During the World Cup, domestic abuse rates rise by 38% when England loses.

This also sounds bogus, as when it was once claimed that the rate of spousal abuse in America spiked on Super Bowl Sunday (not true.

The tallest mountain in Florida, 330 feet

24. There are only two escalators in the state of Wyoming. (The Atlantic)

Presumably side by side, one down, one up.

Been a while since I was in a Chemistry classroom but I don’t think Half Life means what it as presented as meaning.

Florida is not flat: contrary to popular belief, all of Florida is not flat. Florida is a diverse state, culturally especially. It's easy to spot the not flat part of Florida, just find Howey-in-the-Hills, and there you are. The place has a rich history, for those with inquiring minds. And yes, the "Howey Test" for identifying a "security" arose there.

I did read the whole thing but was not super impressed overall; there were some interesting factoids but too many clunkers.

Items 5-8 exemplify why the list is problematic although still interesting.

5. I can readily believe that spiral staircases in say a castle that needed to be defended go up clockwise for exactly the reason stated. (Castles and forts also tend to have the path approaching them come from the right rather than from the left for a similar reason: soldiers who are marching to the castle will have their unshielded right sides exposed to the defenders.)

The problem is that I have encountered a number of spiral staircases that do not go up clockwise. This list of famous spiral staircases shows several:

and unless the photo has been reversed the Garvan Stairs in this list also go up counter-clockwise:

So the military history behind #5 is valid but the empirical fact is false: although most spiral staircases go up clockwise, some do not.

6. A lot of foods are poisonous if eaten in overly large quantities, so wild almonds are not all that special. At one point I was interested in wild foods and noticed that wild spinach appeared in a book of wild foods -- and also appeared in a book about poisonous plants in the wild. Because spinach (both domestic and wild) contains oxalic acid, which is toxic in large doses. But spinach is a good food to eat; just don't overdo it. (Interestingly the author mentions spinach and oxalic acid in #12, but failed to see how it rendered #6 otiose.)

Or more famously, potatoes that turn green can contain alkaloids. Cashew plants are protected by a chemical similar to the one that makes poison ivy something to avoid. Etc. etc.

7. What the heck is this trying to say? Most gossip goes to people who are higher in the social hierarchy, fine -- but how does this act as a check on their power? If anything, I would expect it to make them more powerful because they are hearing more gossip and thus know more about other people.

8. This one is surprising and interesting. I'm reminded of a book about DeBeers that described how the diamond cartel was able to convince Japanese people that a proper wedding required that the bride be given a diamond ring. Or how KFC chicken has become a traditional Christmas meal in Japan.

It's pretty clear that Kent hasn't heard of the replication crisis.

My thought exactly.

Even if the maximum speed of a T Rex was only 12 mph (and it could have been as high as 17 mph), most people would not be able to outrun it. Expressed in terms that runners typically use, 12 mph is a 5-minute mile, and most Americans, the majority of whom are overweight, would not be able to get up to that speed even for short bursts. And if that T Rex was a little faster than his buddies, and got up to just 15 mph (4-minute mile), then we would all have been toast. Of course, even for me, someone who can run at those higher speed, the key issue is how long can the T Rex keep up his maximum speed (I am guessing not very far).

On a different topic, as others have already pointed out, that etymology about the rule-of-thumb expression having anything to do with wife beating is nonsense. Before you publish something, you should do your research.

"Seattle has twice as many parking spaces as households," Sure, plenty of parking provided you are willing to park an hour away from where you are going. On the bright side, the new bike lanes are practically empty!

Are you seriously implying that you should be allowed your metal box on public space for free?

Kansas, like a pancake, can be flat, but tilted.

Thanks for the link; it provided an old-fashioned family guessing game.

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