Andrew {that kilted, sailing darwinist guy}

Alert! Myspace Angle

My name is Michael Westen. I used to be a spy. Andrew Badenoch. I typed this all by myself. Here’s some insight into my potentially relevant biases…

Credentials: None. All I’m working with is a pocket full of library cards, an internet connection, a meager 130ish IQ, and Openness in the top decile. Will Hunting said that all it takes to get a Harvard level education is $1.50 in library fines. If that was the case, I’d earn about 6 degrees per month. Since that is not the case, you may consider me nothing more than a humble journalist. My formal education is in Multimedia and International Business.

Business: Started multiple companies including a hedge fund, ad agency, and marketing company. Served as Managing Partner of a web design/development company and Marketing Director of an SMB (in which I held no ownership stake).

Bio: 6’1″, 193 lbs., never-been-married, thirty-something, hailing from the Pacific Northwest (Anchorage, Alaska; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Bend, et cetera, Oregon) of the United States of America. I’ve also lived in Austin, Texas and Panama City, Panama. I currently live aboard a sailboat which is likely somewhere in the waters of the Pacific Ocean as you read this.

{Insert Motivational Poster Slogan}

Health/Diet/Lifestyle: Adhere to a lifestyle that’s a personal version of what’s commonly referred to as ““paleo diet” or just “paleo”, “primal“, “caveman”, “stone age”, or “hunter-gatherer”. The ultimate explanation of the strategy is that humans are adapted to foods, movements, and environments in which our species evolved. I extend this idea to its logical conclusion by extending it to thoughts, emotions, and biases. The paleolithic/Pleistocene encapsulates the bulk of  important human evolution that distinguishes us from other life. Proximately, this suggests pre-agricultural-revolution foods, pre-industrial-revolution movements, pre-architectural-revolution environments, and pre-civilization psychology. In short: eat meat, fruits, and vegetables; exercise without machines; explore the planet under our own power. Addendum: There are arguments for vegetarianism, but none are particularly persuasive (least of all the polemic The China Study). In related fad diet news, “raw” diets are hype.

I’m semi-strict about avoiding all grains, but rarely turn down a beer. I use paleolithic insights as a logical framework for making optimal decisions – a method of cost-benefit analysis – not a religion. I drink coffee with cream. I eat cheese and chocolate (sometimes together *gasp*). My day-to-day life does not involve fossil fuel transportation, but I realize it’s not practical to eschew planes, trains, and automobiles in many instances.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Luddite. I love the city. I’m real quick to blame the happiness I derive from – waterfront offices and houses with a view and high ceilings – on the demands of an evolved psychology. I prefer to hike, bike, or sail. I miss my Land Cruiser sometimes. I miss ubiquitous $2 Panama City taxis most of the time.

“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” -Thomas Paine

Politics:

  • Anti-Partisan, but forced to lean more Anti-Republican due in large part to their subsumation and internalization of the “god, guns, and gays” narrative. I maintain a libertarian stance on those 3 Gs.
  • Anti-National: The nation-state is a modern artifact of evolved in-group/out-group psychology. Note: I understand that this sounds radical, but please respect that it is nuanced. I am not an anarchist nor do I support subservience to the United Nations.
  • Economics: More Keynes & Krugman than Laffer-nomics. I agree with George H. W. Bush that supply-siders advocate “voodoo economics”.
  • Fanatical about maintaining and increasing the wall of separation between church and state.
  • The opposite of “liberal” is not “conservative”, but “totalitarian”. I am liberal in this, the “classical”, Liberal-Totalitarian continuum sense.
  • Agnostic on the Conservative-Progressive continuum.
  • Pro-Green: In relation to energy production and the cleanliness of the totality of human habitat.
  • Pro-Blue: In relation to limiting and reducing both toxins and overfishing of the oceans.

Religion: Raised Baptist (various flavors). Sundays of my childhood were spent either in church or pretending to be sick to get out of church. In my late-teens, I began a prolonged engagement in intense theological debates with Jehovah’s Witnesses. After some months, I came to understand various inconsistencies in Protestantism. Through a natural course of deconstruction, I eventually reasoned that the Jehovah’s Witnesses interpretation of the Bible suffered from similar systematic problems and the entire book was inconsistent at best. Eventually, all monotheism seemed untenable. I have read the Bible and the Book of Mormon cover to cover. I have attended Baptist, Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, and other various Christian religious services. I currently find the probability of the existence of god, gods, magical forces, mystical energy, et cetera to be exceedingly low. I do not deny that the interaction between the natural world and the chemistry of the human brain can lead to an amazing range of perceptions. I sincerely support the rights of individual religious beliefs, but am wary of what such beliefs inspire in the way of actions.

Page last updated on January 6, 2011 at 9:23 pm

31 Comments → “Andrew {that kilted, sailing darwinist guy}”


  1. Kevin Holbrook

    3 years ago

    You just supplanted the Dos Equis guy as Most Interesting Man Alive. Respect.

    Reply

  2. Pieter D

    3 years ago

    Wow, this is a great site! I like the contents, the graphics (!) and your style! Congrats

    I had to google Dos Equis (I'm from Belgium, we don't need foreign beers here), but a darwinist kilted sailer indeed seems at least as interesting.

    Cheers.

    Reply

  3. freeagent

    3 years ago

    Hi Andrew, I got here from a link at Free The Animal and have enjoyed your site and insightful views immensely.

    Good work and see you again.

    Reply

  4. JasonS

    3 years ago

    You, Andrew, are my new hero, and we have a great many parallel's in our lives, including haling mostly from the NW (Portland here), starting businesses, and virtually every philosophical point you made above. Keep these posts coming, your insight is amazing. Thanks for articulating the jumbled convictions in my head.

    Reply

    • Andrew

      3 years ago

      Ahhh Portland. I do miss the Matador.

      Reply

      • Jeromie

        3 years ago

        Are you referring to the Matador on 23rd ("Trendy-third") that serves the most amazing stuffed jalapenos with avocado-ranch that I've ever had?

        Reply

        • Andrew

          3 years ago

          Yup. Well… It's closer to 17th, but yeah. I used to live in that tall building next to Zupan's on Burnside & 23rd. The Matador's a little dirtier (I mean that in a good way) than most of the rest of the 21st/23rd corridor… Higher proportion of girls with tattoos and dyed black hair… Which is something I seldom complain about.

          Reply

          • Jeromie

            3 years ago

            My girlfriend went to Linfield for her BS in nursing (I went to Portland State for my undergrad). So, she lived on 22nd and Northrop and I spent many nights in her dorms. That meant we were able to enjoy all of the deliciousness on 23rd – and The Matador was the most frequently visited location, for sure. Before I cleaned up my diet, there happy hour nachos were awesome. The biggest pile of food for $4 I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

            Reply

  5. Jeromie

    3 years ago

    Most of the amazon links didn't work :(

    I added a couple that did work to my wishlist! Thanks for the good material.

    Reply

    • Andrew

      3 years ago

      Thanks for pointing that out! I had no idea… They should all be fixed now.

      Reply

  6. Jake

    3 years ago

    Hi Andrew,
    I just stumbled across your site and plan on exploring it more as we have a large overlap of interests and viewpoints. One topic I might suggest you explore would be Austrian Economics. Austrian Econ is to Keynesian Econ as Libertarian is to Authoritarian. A great place to start is http://www.mises.org. (If you prefer books to the web, I'd go with "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt.) It's a whole new rabbit hole and was a frame-of-reference shifter for me similar to paleo and EP.
    Best,
    Jake

    Reply

    • Andrew

      3 years ago

      I'm not unfamiliar with the Austrian school, but I'm definitely not steeped in it either. For the most part, I agree with its foundational assumptions, but remain skeptical of hastily drawn conclusions of laissez-faire prescriptions for a world with 6+ billion people, corporations as immortal "persons", and the unholy union of banks and markets. There's some wisdom between the lines of Thomas Paine's 'Agrarian Justice' that I just can't shake. Granted, it's a gaping chasm to jump from Mises to Paine in three sentences without a 100% probability of losing some important nuance.

      I'd be particularly interested if you have sources linking EP and economics in a convincing or interesting way. None of the attempts I've seen have been particularly insightful. Then again, I've seen very few attempts. The 20th Century Homo economicus paradigm is completely vacant of insight and EP can help explain why, and perhaps sharpen our understanding in a way that would be beneficial to Austrian economic theorists as well.

      In other words, I remain economic "school" agnostic, and am interested in the interplay.

      Reply

      • Jake

        3 years ago

        I agree that I'd like to see more EP and econ interaction. Given that Austrians define "economics" as the study of human interaction, you think it'd be fertile ground.

        I've thought a lot about how evolution and free markets have a lot in common. I would even say that Mother Nature is the quintessential example of the free market in action. Not necessarily survival of the fittest, it's the survival of what people actually want (peacock feathers, anyone?). Think Beta vs. VHS– Beta was supposedly better quality, yet it went extinct. I think EP fits in well there.

        The market serves as a mechanism for providing for the subjective wants of its participants. Everyone's diverse preferences can be expressed and catered to, leading to an attempted natural maximum of happiness. Take the inverse: communist USSR where everyone was "provided" what some central planner deemed "necessary," not what the people necessarily wanted. That was what Hayek dubbed "The Fatal Conceit;" that any one person could know the wants and preferences of a nation worth of people and then provide it to them. (Not just what they specifically want, but when they want it.) It does sound pretty arrogant when thought about it on those terms.

        To get a little more technical, my biggest gripe with Keynesianism is the Fed. Interest rates act as price signals showing people's preferences for consumption now vs. later. When the Fed artificially lowers interest rates below the market rate, it is effectively sending a signal to the market that people would rather consume now than in the future. Entrepreneurs see this signal and engage in projects to meet those demand preferences. After products/factories are built, it turns out the consumers didn't actually have that preference, there's a glut (or bubble), and the entrepreneur has to pay for that mistake. (Think Las Vegas real estate in the 2000s. It's no coincidence the Federal Funds rate was extremely low leading up to that time frame.) Entrepreneurs make mistakes all the time on what they think the market wants as people's preferences are ever-shifting. That's OK as the odds of everyone being wrong at the same time appear remote. (There are the occasional manias where people lose their minds; i.e. tulips, South Seas, tech-bubble, but they're usually fueled by cheap money.) The Fed's manipulation of the interest rates causes a large confluence of these entrepreneurial errors ("Let's all building condos in Vegas, we'll be rich!), creating the dramatic booms and busts that we've been subjected to since their doors opened in 1913.

        Anyway, that's my long and boring view of it.

        I found a couple articles of interest after a preliminary search of Austrian Econ and EP: http://mises.org/daily/4700 http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=

        Neither one is particularly astounding (I am interested in Shermer's book now), but they do serve as jumping off points for your own thoughts.

        Out of curiosity, what was the investment strategy for your hedge fund? (I run a fund.)

        Best,
        Jake

        Reply

        • Andrew

          3 years ago

          (Some of these conversations are just too good and complex to conduct within a blog comment system. As soon as I hit submit, I’m going to look at installing a forum within evolvify.com for threads like this, and open it up to everyone.)

          Shermer’s okay, but I’d recommend a cocktail Kahneman & Tversky, Nassim Taleb, and Robert Shiller if you want to get in deep.

          Daniel Kahneman @ TED
          [youtube XgRlrBl-7Yg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgRlrBl-7Yg youtube]

          Robert Shiller on Behavioral Finance @ Yale

          Nassim Taleb & Daniel Kahneman Discuss the Financial Crisis

          Reply

          • Jake

            3 years ago

            I've read multiple books synthesizing Kahneman and Tversky's prolific research. They're definitely pioneers. That video is kind of a mind f— when you think about your own happiness in comparison. I read Dan Gilbert's "Stumbling on Happiness" which covered a lot of the same material, so I was at least a little prepared.

            Though I'm familiar with his work, I truthfully haven't read much Shiller yet.

            Taleb is a different story. I'm a HUGE NNT fanboy and I think I've consumed nearly every piece of public information that relates to him that's out there. His two books are on my read-once-a-year shelf (speaking of that, you should consider adding a bookshelf section to your blog). I'm geeked to get a hold of Taleb's third book: http://www.amazon.com/Bed-Procrustes-Philosophica

            Reply

            • Andrew

              3 years ago

              Cool. It sounds like we're on a similar wavelength will all of this stuff. I read Gilbert's book before I'd heard of EP and found it quite insightful. I found myself skimming Shermer's book and quit about halfway in because it didn't seem to add any light that those above hadn't covered.

              The behavioral economics stuff is all intriguing, but as far as I know, it's still missing a deep analysis by an Evolutionary Psychologist™ PhD.

              I've thrown up a forum for anyone wishing to discuss applications of evolutionary psychology and biology in greater detail. Consider it in beta testing at the moment, but it seems to be humming along okay so far. http://evolvify.com/forum

              Reply

        • Andrew

          3 years ago

          Reply

  7. Andrew

    3 years ago

    This again demonstrates a misunderstanding of what was once adaptive and what remains adaptive. This again demonstrates misunderstanding of my writing. This again demonstrates the naturalistic fallacy.

    Look into Steven Pinker's "cheesecake" analogy, or Stephen J. Gould's "spandrel" concept. A key flaw underlying your misunderstanding is the failure to recognize evolutionary artifacts. This is a central concept in evolutionary biology and psychology.

    Reply

  8. Andrew

    3 years ago

    Thanks, Greg.

    Reply

  9. Grok

    3 years ago

    After reading this, I'm convinced my father may have been hiding in your parent's wood pile 30 something years ago.

    Reply

  10. @KillerAbsMtn

    3 years ago

    You have the most epic beard in the Paleo community, by far.

    Reply

  11. BAMBAM

    3 years ago

    Paleo Dieter and RD in training (I guess that's what they call it) here. It was your critique of President Obama's personal trainer that brought me to this blog. I found his demonization of the Paleo Diet extremely disappointing. Maybe someone without the paleo community or cross-fit can work his/her way onto the next President's sports and nutrition committee and model the paleo lifestyle for the President and the public. If I can make it to a Michelle Obama speaking engagement where she takes questions, I will ask her if she is willing to consider a book recommendation …Cordain's book. Considering her work with "Let's Move" and her emphasis on improving school nutrition, perhaps she will be open to it.

    May I make a book recommendation for you as well?

    I used to work at a library with lots of wise old ladies that read lots of obscure old books so this may seem kind of left field…

    There is a River – The Edgar Cayce Story.

    It is the true life story of a man believed to have psychic abilities in the early 1900's. It's fascinating to see how different psychic episodes played out in the provincial southern towns where he grew up and gave readings. I hope the playwright who develops the screen play does the book justice. It's not a Hollywood film yet…but it will be so fingers crossed.

    Reply

  12. @pabilonie

    3 years ago

    Nice Burn Notice reference!

    Reply

  13. John Lewis

    2 years ago

    Hi Andrew: I arrived at this page via a post entitled "Why Your Girlfriend Wants To Cheat On You". Love your unique voice, and I was also intrigued by many of the insights in the post. I'll be back! Kind regards, John.

    Reply

  14. Ava Sydney

    1 year ago

    VERY interesting, love it all!

    Reply

  15. Rebecca Chou

    11 months ago

    I find that the demands of being in a society are overwhelming and unnatural. We aren't meant to spend our energy worrying about taxes, insurance, and making all of our 600 payments. Until the paleo lifestyle seeped it's way past my diet and exercise, I thought that I personally was just unfit for societal living. Now I see the strains society puts on everybody's biological potential. You speak my mind but with prettier words. I'll keep reading.

    One critique (as a science teacher): evolution is not something one believes in. Science is no place for beliefs…that is strictly the realm of faith (just as proof does not belong in faith…the very existence of proof would annihilate faith the same way that the existence of belief in science would annihilate science). Evolution as a mechanism is scientific fact that some choose to ignore. Evolution as a theory simply attempts to explain why evolution occurs. Most ignorant people think they don't believe in the theory of evolution. They are in fact rejecting both scientific fact (the law of evolution) and the hard work of decades of great minds explaining evidence in a way that is never at odds with anything observed ever. To sum up without getting too geeky about theories: not believing is very different from choosing ignorance.

    It would make me happy if you reworded that on your about page. :)

    Reply

  16. Katharina

    7 months ago

    A clean and precise content: The content with
    its clear goal and detailed description is always welcomed.
    If you are blogging for business your template should be more professional or at least reflect the business itself.

    Reply

  17. Nenita

    7 months ago

    The difference between blog anonymity and blog greatness is the quality of your headlines. The goal here in creating a killer sports blog is finding a special niche within that segment of the blogosphere.

    Reply

  18. Andrew

    3 years ago

    You really just don't get it, and I'm not going to do all the work for you. I'm also not going to continue this discussion unless you understand the concepts of Pinker and Gould that I mentioned above.

    Reply

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