One-stop shop to make India 20 times richer | Liberty and opportunity for all | Science and truth.

Videos of my talks in Delhi in February-March 2010

I have the pleasure of publishing on the internet the full videos of two of my talks delivered in Delhi in February-March this year. These videos are also simultaneously being published on the FTI website.

I'd like to thank  Manali Shah of IFAN and CCS and Ram Atri of FTI for organising the recordings, and  Dipinder Sekhon of FTI for uploading these on Veoh. I downloaded the recordings uploaded by Dipinder and combined them, a process which has unfortunately doubled their size. (If I get access to the original recordings, I'll upload a less bulky version in due course.)

If you could not attend these talks please consider going through these videos which will give you a better sense about what the Freedom Team is working towards. 

Since these videos are quite large in size, you might prefer to download them and view them on your own computer at your leisure. Use the downwards pointing arrow on the control panel of the videos to download. Thereafter you can use Real Player or other media players to view the downloaded file on your computer.

As you might already be aware, a short summary of these (and other) talks along with a few photographs was provided in  the March 2010 issue of the FTI magazine. In addition, the pre-ASSOCHAM talk chit-chat of 27 February has been uploaded by Dipinder at Veoh for those interested: (here and here).

a) Outreach event sponsored by IFAN, 27 Feb, Delhi

The video, below,  is over 2 hours in duration, and will consume 915 MB in  bandwidth. 

[flv: 480 368]

b) Chetna, at the Centre for Civil Society, 3 March, Delhi

The video, below, of this outreach event  is 1 hour and 56 minutes long, and will consume 608 MB  bandwidth. 

[flv: 480 368]
Continue Reading

The role of the sun in climate

In this blog post I continue my summary of findings from various readings in relation to climate change. This post deals with the role of the sun. (My other blog posts on the subject are here)

Where the sun fits into the scheme of things

To set the context we must look more broadly at the universe, from the more distant things to the more proximal things. The order in which we must look is:

a) Big Bang:  The Big Bang energy currently pervades the Universe as microwaves. This ensures a background temperature of 2.73 degrees Kelvin (i.e. -270.42 degrees centigrade). Does this radiation vary? No. So clearly this can't be responsible for climate change. [NOT IMPORTANT]

b) Galaxies: The Milky way and other galaxies spew out energy at higher wavelengths such as cosmic rays which hit the Earth and heat it up. This perhaps adds some degrees C to the Earth. Does this radiation vary? Yes, depending on the Sun's and Earth's magnetic fields. It also varies depending on the relative position of the sun in the spiral arms of the Milky Way. This effect is very slow, however, and unlikely to influence climate within the lifetime of an average human being. [NOT IMPORTANT] (

c) Sun: The biggest variable source of energy that hits the Earth is the Sun. It is a pulsing star, and its energy outputs goes through various cycles. It really PULSES! It started life as a rather dim star and has significantly increased in intensity over billions of years. The sun is the ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM that must be studied carefully if we are to find the causes of climate change. [IMPORTANT].

d) Earth's rotation around the sun: This significant shifts the amount of energy flowing into the Earth (seasons). Its tilt matters as well, although these are pretty much long term effects and can be mostly discounted. [NOT IMPORTANT]

e) Moon: Some energy is perhaps reflected back to the Earth by the moon. If tides are a result of the moon's gravitational force, then definitely some of solar energy reflected back to the earth should matter – but it is a regular phenomenon and can be excluded.  [NOT IMPORTANT]

f) Earth's core: The Earth is molten inside. But that doesn't explain its inner heat, which is largely attributable to radioactivity. That is why as you go deeper into the earth (e.g. as in a deep mine) it heats up dramatically. (I've been inside the Kolar Gold fields, and sure, it gets really hot below these deepest gold mines in the world) . Does the radioactivity at the centre of the earth vary a lot? Possibly only minimally. But it is still a crucially important unknown. [IMPORTANT].

g) Crust of the earth: The crust of the Earth is brittle and mobile. Tectonics releases a lot of energy into the Earth's surface, and includes volcanic activity. This is highly variable, hence likely to be quite important. [IMPORTANT].

g) Water: 2/3rd of the surface of the earth is water, and quite deep. Water absorbs heat slowly and releases it slowly. It leads a convection currents across the earth and has a dramatic influence on the Earth's climate. Snow and ice have properties that affect the Earth's climate significantly, as well.While the total amount of water doesn't change, its distribution and influence is constantly in flux. This must be important. [IMPORTANT].

h) Gases: Water vapour and methane are critical here, being powerful greenhouse gases, but CO2 also matters. [IMPORTANT].

g) Plant and animal life. This is absolutely crucial. [IMPORTANT].

h) Humans: This is another important variable given our significant re-design of the surface of the earth. [IMPORTANT].

I've noted some findings on other causal factors elsewhere so won't go into these things here. Just the sun.

The effect of the sun

Sunspots and other measures of solar activity

Have the changes in solar activity (sunspots) made an impact? 

The key issue here is whether the  above figure shows a relationship with the Little Ice Age that ended in about 1850. If solar activity has delayed impacts on the earth's climate (possibly through absorption of heat by sea water and slow changes on ocean currents), then a broad relationship exists between the little Ice Age that lasted till 1850, and the subsequent increase in temperature that we have seen in the last four decades. 

If the sun's impact is immediate, then of course the relationship is much weaker. However, there is no reason why the entire heat from the sun should instantly impact climate. If that were the case then we would see sea levels rise everyday in the afternoon and subside at night. Sea temperatures change very slowly, because of their depth. It seems plausible therefore that at least some portion of the effect is relatively longer term. In which case, the increased solar activity over mid-20th century could be leading to warming today, as the energy is released from within the deep oceans. 

Further, there seems to be clear evidence that there has been extra solar activity during the 20th century, particularly in the 1950s and 1990s ( This comes out clearly in the figure below:

Source (

Claims that there are inaccuracies in the IPCC report on solar activity:

This article seems to be particularly important and argues that "the original satellite data showed, that TSI (measured in Watts) increased from 1986 to 1996 by cca one third… But then Judith and Clause "laundered" the graphs and voila… solar output increase was gone. The people, who were in charge of the satellites and who created the original graphs (the best world astro-physicists: Doug Hoyt, Richard C.Willson) protested against this manipulation. In vain." (see here).

My view on this is that this is all too much for me to examine in detail given limitations of time. However, I've been compiling a few articles on the subject which might help me find the accurate position on this subject in the coming year/s. I'll keep adding information here. 

My tentative conclusion

I've already come to the view that CO2 is a boon and that sea levels (and climate) always change. So regardless of whether the sun is a significant explanatory variable in the current  increasing temperatures of the earth (which are relatively minor, though), climate change is not a threat. That much is clear.

I am unable to figure, though, out why so much self-contradictory evidence is published regarding the influence of the sun, and look forward to the day when I'll be able to form a much clearer understanding on its role on the climate. It is highly implausible that the sun has a negligible influence on the earth's climate, as the IPCC has claimed. So if there was genuine fraud (see the article here, again), that's a serious matter for scientists to resolve. But even without the claims of fraud, there doesn't seem to me to have been sufficient evidence provided that the sun is not the MAJOR factor driving climate change. It is highly implausible that CO2 is the key factor in such change (that doesn't fit historical records).

I haven't had the time to fully read this particular academic paper here (this  paper is rather significant!), but over the next year I hope to read a lot more in my spare time and publish my findings as I arrive at various conclusions.

One thing is clear to me – that IPCC has NOT done the due diligence it needed to have done, before it arrived at its conclusions. If so much information is available in books, articles, and on the internet to contradict key claims of IPCC, then surely there is a real problem. I hope to write a blog post compiling key IPCC failures, in the coming weeks/months.
Prediction of likely cooling due to reduction in sun spots
Cosmic ray effects
Some articles claim that cosmic rays reflect the changes in solar activity.  

Articles of interest (too little time to summarise)

I hope to find time to summarise and classify these better in the coming weeks/months/years.'variable-sun'-mission/

Things that aren't conclusive

Warming of Mars
This story came out some time ago but a number of people disputed it. So let it rest!
Reduced cloud cover


General opposition to arguments of man-made climate change

Ocean current effects:’s-climate/


Cooling actually represents significant danger for humanity – but the media obviously don’t want to alarm you

Sun down (Economist, 18 june 2011)

Sun affects cosmic rays which affect clouds


Continue Reading

Review of Gut Feelings by Gerd Gigerenzer

My review of Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious, by Gerd Gigerenzer, London: Penguin, 2007. [the version I have is sub-titled, "Shortcuts to better decision making"]

As an economiser of time and money, I often let books sit in shop bookshelves till they reach the end of their useful life and reach the clearance bins. These bins are not always the best source of good books, but the last few copies of best sellers often end up there as well, which makes it a reasonable place to browse on my afternoon walk at work. This one, Gut Feelings, is yet another good book I found in a clearance bin. 
In Discovery of Freedom (DOF, still a draft which will take another year to complete) I explore human nature at some length. The debates about rationality vs. unconscious intuition and even bad judgement; the debates about whether we are altruistic or not; have now become staple fodder for many outstanding academic and popular books, based initially on the work of  Kahneman and Tversky.
In DOF I've got extensive an discussion on this literature. For some reason,  I have not yet read Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, nor had I read this book, Gut Feelings. Yet, those who have read the earlier versions of DOF will have noticed that I had come to somewhat similar conclusions suggested in Gut Feelings – namely, that we are implicitly rational. Indeed, that is the underlying theme of my PhD dissertation itself (here). Thus, the concept of implicit contracts (implicit rationality) is not new, and one could even argue that it forms the foundation of modern economics. My specification of the social contract in DOF is similarly bsed on such implicit rationality. I therefore fully agree with Gigernzer that, ‘gut feelings themselves have a rationale based on reasons’ . Unconscious reasoning (or implicit rationality) is at the heart of our rapid-fire gut feelings.
As I write in DOF (draft), it is now becoming clear that just like our cerebellum undertakes extremely fine-tuned movements by implicitly making enormously complex mathematical calculations that would defeat most computers that have been designed so far, so also our behaviour is often driven by what can perhaps be best described as super-rationality. Even our irrational or emotional behaviours like love, for instance, have deeply rational reasons, which would take us many more decades of work to understand fully. 
What I got out of this book, therefore, is not just a validation of what I'd been already thinking anyway, but very useful additional information to reinforce and supplement my arguments in DOF. To that extent I think this is an excellent book. In particular, I've been concerned about the bounded rationality and altruism literature that claims to prove that we frequently violate what would otherwise be considered as being in our self-interest.  For instance, in their Nobel Prize winning studies, Kahneman and Tversky found that we often draw erroneous conclusions based on the way information is presented to us. These are the biases of anchoring, availability, framing and representativeness. Other biases include the base rate fallacy, conjunction fallacy, loss aversion, peak-end rule, preference reversal, status quo bias and fundamental attribution error. We easily slip into logical fallacies, as well. Our mind doesn’t always seem to think as rationally as it could, upon colder reflection. A recent study demonstrated that we make systemic errors in purchase decisions which are framed as special deals. 
I am not quite convinced about this, and would side with Gigerenzer in arguing that if ALL factors are accounted for, we would find a very good adaptive reason for such behaviour. Second, reason, or rationality, is no guarantee of truth. We can reason wrongly! We can draw the wrong conclusions. No one is infallible. Perfection is not the standard of rationality. Purely rational people may possibly never marry, beset by so many doubts about the future they would be. Some irrationality may therefore be ‘rational’, at least in the interest of the reproduction of the species. Indeed, were we to factor in all possible information, we may well find that ‘[o]ften what looks like a reasoning error from a purely logical perspective turns out to be a highly intelligent social judgment in the real world’. Given the complex rational computations that our brain undertakes to propel us around in the real world, it is impossible to imagine that our social responses are actually unreasonable.
Anyway, there is much discussion of such things in my draft manuscript, and by the time I finish it, I would have hopefully refined my views further. 
Regarding Gigerenzer's work, this is an excellent book and he might be well advised to study standard economic literature that has for long now known about implicit rationality and discussed it at length. That might give him many more examples to justify his points further, regarding the implicit rationality of intuition and gut feelings. The heuristics and short-cuts designed by our brain (and emotion) are adaptive and can't really be ad hoc as some people have started thinking these days. 
A book well worth buying and reading carefully. Very well written on top of that. I wish I could write so well!
One thing particularly relevant to FTI: I was particularly fascinated by Gigerenzer's analysis of way people vote for political parties. His 'string' model is simple and clear. It is important to not confuse the voter with too much detail. Voters vote on broad perceptions about the philosophical niche a party belongs to. Classical liberalism is a very clear political niche, and it might be useful to simplify this information for the purposes of the lay Indian who doesn't have time to think about policy. Keep It Simple, Stupid. That message comes through loud and clear from this book. Very useful message.
My conclusion:
One can get rid of all macroeconomic forecasting teams in various government and other agencies, such as World Bank, and replace them with the simple predictions of betting agencies (e.g. Sportsbet). That forecast will not only be cheaper but much BETTER, than the forecasts of economists. 

Discussions on this book:

Many reviews here:

A scholarly review:



Continue Reading

Am I a leader in disguise?

I was told recently that someone (let's call him "Harish")  thinks I am a "sort of a leader in disguise " (!). Apparently I want "to play safe as I am working for Australian Govt and thinking of bringing political revolution in India while remaining stationed in Australia."

Through this blog post I'd like to let Harish know that I'm not a leader in disguise. I'm out there in public. No disguise. No secrets about it. My book, BFN talks clearly about it. I have never hidden my leadership ambitions. Because I believe I have information and capacity to totally change India's future. And I don't expect anyone to join FTI unless they are clear they have the capacity and calibre to become Prime Minister of India. Else we are getting second raters and we can't do anything with such people.

I'd like to inform Harish that I'm also clear about this – that I must lead because I CARE deeply for India and its future, not  because being a leader is necessary in any form or shape for my personal happiness. I am PERFECTLY happy where I am and will continue to be happy to an extent that most people in the world can't even imagine. Happiness is such a personal thing, anyway; nothing to do with external paraphernalia of ANY sort.

And third, let me tell Harish that I want India to prosper (and the world), which means all this that I'm doing is not only NOT about me but CANNOT be about me. It is logically impossible for any of my work to be about me. Instead, it is about finding and fostering genuine leaders in India who can proudly lead India to glory and greatness.
India is not something that exists only in my lifetime. It has had a short 8,000 year old journey so far, but a much longer journey – of millions of years – lies ahead. It is not my goal to be a blip of light in my lifetime by becoming some kind of a special "leader" but letting darkness prevail after that. My goal, instead, to ensure that thousands of bright lights rise and shine in India, not only today but for ever. I love my people despite their flaws (But who is flawless – definitely not me! – we are all human). So I want to liberate my fellow countrymen from their slumber. And having done that, my job will be done. They will lead themselves. Self-leadership is therefore the aim, not imposing my 'leadership' in ANY form or shape. Leadership, in any event, is ONLY about achieving one's goals, not about oneself. That I'm on this journey itself gives me more satisfaction than I got when I was merely a bureaucrat, trying to 'adjust' the rotten systems we have. 
And I am interested in supporting FTI become an organisation that fights for freedom, not an organisation that will depend on any single team member. Any of us can die next thing tomorrow: then what? Would the fight for freedom and good governance that FTI is working on,  die? Is freedom so cheap that it must depend on any single person, whoever that person be? Why are we so foolish that we depend on a single person for our own freedom and prosperity? Don't we have self-respect? Why are we such total slaves that we need to think of leadership as a "position", not a function of citizenship and self-actualisation? When will we grow up?
Gandhi's age was of great leaders, although he just did simple things as a common citizen. Citizenship was so rare in those days that he became a great leader. But that was  history. Why can't we all become good citizens today? Surely we don't need feats of glory any longer. We are adults, I hope?! With deep self-regard, and commitment to our own nation, our own world. This is now the age of citizen-leaders. Everyone must be a leader – a person who takes responsibility for his own country.
I ask Harish, therefore, whether he (and his team of highly qualified Indians) would prefer to be citizen-leaders working together to take India to greatness, or would they rather be loners, each of whom wants his own individual greatness? Harish, you surely realise that if you truly want greatness then you must become part of a great country, not a single 'great' man who sits on top of a petty molehill. So let's join together to make India great. Let's all work to ensure citizenship. Let's NEVER lose our identity to serve anyone else but ourselves! The nation exists for us. Nothing is greater than us. But we can't be great without a great nation. That is why we must work together. Then we can all be great! How simple is that!
Continue Reading