The Zurich Axioms

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The Zurich Axioms by Gunter, Max

1.      On Risk: Worry is not a sickness but a sign of health. If you are not worried, you are not risking enough.

·       Always play for meaningful stakes

·       Resist the allure of diversification

2.      On Greed: Always take your profit too soon.

·       Decide in advance what gain you want from a venture, and when you get it, get out.

3.      On Hope: When the ship starts to sink, don’t pray. Jump.

·       Accept small losses cheerfully as a fact of life. Expect to experience several while awaiting a large gain.

4.      On Forecasts: Human behavior cannot be predicted. Distrust anyone who claims to know the future, however dimly. 

5.      On Patterns: Chaos is not dangerous until it begins to look orderly.

·       Beware the historian’s trap.

·       Beware the chartist’s illusion.

·       Beware the correlation and causality delusions.

·       Beware the gambler’s fallacy.

6.      On Mobility: Avoid putting down roots. They impede motion.

·       Do not become trapped in a souring venture because of sentiments like loyalty or nostalgia.

·       Never hesitate to abandon a venture if something more attractive comes into view.

7.      On Intuition: A hunch can be trusted if it can be explained.

·       Never confuse a hunch with hope.

8.      On Religion and the Occult: It is unlikely that God’s plan for the universe includes making you rich.

·       If astrology worked, all astrologers would be rich.

·       A superstition need not be exorcised. It can be enjoyed, provided it is kept in its place.

9.      On Optimism and Pessimism: Optimism means expecting the best, but confidence means knowing how you will handle the worst. Never make a move if you are merely optimistic.

10.   On Consensus: Disregard the majority opinion. It is probably wrong.

·       Never follow speculative fads. Often, the best time to buy something is when nobody else wants it.

11.   On Stubbornness: If it doesn’t pay off the first time, forget it.

·       Never try to save a bad investment by averaging down.

12.   On Planning: Long-range plans engender the dangerous belief that the future is under control. It is important never to take your own long-range plans, or other people’s, seriously.

·       Shun long-term investments.

Mats Larsson, September 27 2018


P.S. Please see the review of the book The Zurich Axioms for more color on the philosophy presented. Or read the book.