Ask me anything – The disclaimers edition


Sky Map comes with no warranties! If you choose to use it to navigate the high seas and you hit an iceberg, it’s your responsibility. If you tell your kids that the bright thing in the sky is Jupiter and it turns out to be a UFO and you are subsequently kidnapped by aliens – not our responsibility. If your kids subsequently fail their science homework – not our responsibility. If it wipes all the data in your phone, including the photos of the UFO that were going to make you rich – not our responsibility. If it causes your phone to tear a hole in the fabric of space and time, OK – that one is on us. Any other calamities not listed above — not our responsibility. Don’t use it while driving or carrying scissors.

That’s the summary of the end user license agreement for the app “Sky Map”. After the summary, it says “Boring legalese version follow.” I avoided reading that.

I am a fan of funny disclaimers. My favorite disclaimer appears in the radio show Whad’ya Know?  Micheal Felman, the host, is seriously funny. They have quizzes on the show. Here’s the disclaimer, read by an audience member, for what to expect of the quiz and who is eligible to play:

  1. “All questions used on Whad’ya Know?  have been painstakingly researched, although the answers have not. Ambiguous, misleading, or poorly worded questions are par for the course. Listeners who are sticklers for the truth should get their own shows.”
  2. “Persons employed by the International House of Radio or its member stations are lucky to be working at all, let alone tying up the office phones trying to play the quiz. Listeners who have won recently should sit on their hands and let someone else have a chance for a change.”
  3. “All opinions expressed on Whad’ya Know? are well-reasoned and insightful. Needless to say, they are not those of the International House of Radio, its member stations, or lackeys. Anyone who says otherwise is itching for a fight.”

OK, so what’s on your mind? Ask me anything.

Author: Atanu Dey


27 thoughts on “Ask me anything – The disclaimers edition”

      1. Can you express your views on what you think is the most appropriate methodology for doing Economics?
        Do you believe in a priori method or arriving at economic laws through induction or you subscribe to Friedman’s approach of using any model capable of predicting reality?
        Or you think a combination of various approach is needed while doing Economics?


  1. The goodness of free-market-competition and free-choice is not intuitive for many Indians (myself included). That is the reason, our policies are so anti-free-market. Politicians are not the root-cause; Our ingrained anti-free-market tendencies are.

    I myself needed lot of time and understanding to move to free-market camp. Thanks Atanu for your blog. Of course some other books, columns and blogs helped as well. However, most of us Indians are still anti-free-market. How to change this? Is India’s pace towards free-market-reforms right? Anything we can do to hasten it? Arguing with unwilling listeners generally does not help the cause.


    1. Why and how markets work are not matters that people intuitively understand. That goes for all people, not just Indians. The idea that free markets are good in non-intuitive but fortunately it is not hard to understand once it is explained.

      Look at it this way. Imagine someone does not have even the faintest notion that something called gravity exists. Sure, they know that unsupported things naturally fall to the ground. That’s just how nature is, they think, and there’s no more to it. Then you tell them that, “You know, the earth is a sphere. People on the opposite side of the globe from us are actually upside down from our point of view.” He’ll immediately realize that you are crazy and refuse to believe you.

      But if you explain the principle — the force of gravity — he will, unless he is stupid, realize that what you said makes sense.

      The problem is that people have not been taught the basic principle of why and how markets work. The education system is to blame. Naive intuitionism is to blame. The fact that we all grow up in our own little socialist society (it’s called a family consisting of parents, siblings, close relatives) is to blame. It is hard to unlearn some of the mistaken lessons we learn from that experience. It is only human.

      There is a lot of stuff that explains all this. But people have to take the time to read the basics. Perhaps I should write one. I should crowd-fund it. Would you contribute towards it? 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

        1. That’s very generous of you. Thanks. If the book does materialize, and if you can give/sell 50 copies, then it’s a deal. Actually, when the book is published in hard copy, I will make a simple offer: Buy this book and if you don’t like it, you will get your money back.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope Atanu won’t mind me jumping into his AMA.

    But I just feel so compelled to answer this question as it is one of those which is on my mind almost every single day.

    I did write a recent post on this too, which I won’t link here, as that just doesn’t feel right, you can still check it out.

    Now to put out one of my many theories here. India has a culture of “blind obedience” to all forms of authority and individualism is weeded out from people as they grow in such a culture.

    To give a simple example, grown men in India often (in simple words) have no balls to make important life decisions like managing money, choosing a life partner etc. and give into the whims and fancies of the “elders” for the only reason that they are elders.

    Doesn’t matter how wrong the said elders are. A prime example is how most guys will ditch a relationship which they cherished for years and marry into a family to someone who is completely incompatible. All in the name of “respecting” the wishes of the elders.

    Contrast this with America and you will see the teens there have a “Fu” attitude right the the age of 18 or so and move out on their own.

    It is just a huge difference in how much value individuals put into personal freedom in both these cultures.

    What happens at the national level is the same, individuals give into the whims and fancies of the govt which is just another authority you “obey”.

    Now I believe a real change will happen when we have more people with “Fu” attitudes and who will put more value on their personal freedoms. This is already happening in major cities though, but of course not at the “free speech” and “private property” or “bill of rights” levels.

    The intellectual pursuits come later, the personal comes first. This is happening at the “legalize weed”, “let us party” and the hookup culture level now. And ART is what will capture this first. So all those bollywood controversies over saying “F***” and nude scenes and calling the indian govt corrupt, are in a way a culture figuring it out, slowly pushing the boundaries for a little more freedom.

    What is art if not pushing for more freedom on every front?

    And as the oldies keep dying out and fading away, so will their ideas and in another 50 yrs we should have a huge number of people at least in the metros who will value personal freedoms. From there on slowly it might start dripping into intellectual pursuits like “free speech” and “bill of rights”.

    It might quicken, now that we have the internet and all the good ideas are out there but it will still be a painfully slow transition to watch.

    It will mostly not happen in out lifetime, so it might still be worth your while apply for the Canadian PR till the time they’re willing to give you one.


    1. “I did write a recent post on this too, which I won’t link here, as that just doesn’t feel right, you can still check it out.”

      Why the reluctance in posting a link to your post?


      1. Don’t know about wordpress, but disqus/equitymaster automatically puts a block on any comment with web links. If I must put a link, I use plain text like “oshantomon dot blogspot dot com”


        1. You can put all sorts of links on WordPress comments. It is up to individual sites to decide how many (including zero) links to allow. I have often had links in my comments on disqus and they have gone through.


    2. almostaristotle,

      I largely agree with you. Culture is significant in what happens in a country. Indians are not very enterprising. Part of it because they are materially deprived. Material deprivation means not having (in NN Taleb’s words) “fuck you money.” If you are dependent to whatever extent on your elders, you can’t rub them the wrong way. American children are less dependent on their parents and therefore their dismissive attitude toward them. That aside, Indians are timid and lack confidence. Their schooling is to blame, not surprisingly because it’s government controlled. The political leaders are intellectually retarded. The bureaucracy is perhaps the worst in the world. Is there any hope for the country? Not really. At least not in the short run.

      In the long run, however, I am optimistic. India’s problems will not be solved by Indians, and certainly not by Indian politicians. They will be solved by external developments. They will be solved by transformative processes that are bound to occur outside India. Indians are collectively an imprisoned population. They lack freedom. Here’s what I wrote on the topic some time back — The End of Poverty.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You have not written anything on the Swarna bharat party. They are now even contesting 2019 in some seats.

    Won’t you support them at least on principal and give them a shout out of some sort so your readers at least know?


    1. I have met Sanjeev Sabhlok some years ago. His SBP does support liberal principles and I am all for that. But he found my support of Modi abhorrent. Here’s a blog post by him titled “Atanu Dey, rabid illiberal, spat on liberty and fawned on murderous, socialist Modi. Modi is no longer his great hero, it seems.”. That’s from 19th June 2016 (a little over two years ago.) See also this one from OCt 2011.

      Although Sabhlok attacked me personally, I don’t really hold it against him. He works hard and is sincere in his efforts to make a difference. I have sufficient empathy to understand his frustration. I just don’t see how a new political party can change India’s course. My position is that there are two ways of changing: the first, a benevolent dictator. That is not going to happen. The second will take more time: the people change and thus they force change on the system. That is not going to happen. C’est la vie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sabhlok’s first link about you is incorrect. It is taking me to a youtube video.
        Sabhlok does come out as genuinely passionate. His bile against you is unfortunate.

        I know for sure that people will become pro-free-market and enforce change on system. It is the pace which frustrates me sometimes.


        1. I fixed that link. I was watching Nick Bostrom going on about the dangers of superintelligent AI.

          I think of all the innocents (especially children) suffering because of the idiocy, greed and stupidity of the people. The only consolation I have is that this will end soon enough.


      2. I joined the SBP, in my foolish optimism. On my first day – I suggested that instead of attacking the current government on every front that remains relatively popular despite many of its stupidities (well relatively less than the previous horror) – it would make more sense to ally with them and criticise them when they stray from liberal, free market principles. I was called morally corrupt by some other members, and they personally attacked me too. I doubt they will make any real impact on the landscape. They fall for all the fake news in the newspapers and TV about the BJP. I tried to explain how much good work was done by the Vajpayee govt. and how the BJP is a better bet. Fell on deaf ears. Maybe some day 150 years from now we will have a true capitalist economy.


    1. I had very high expectations of the Modi government. I had supported his candidacy as the PM but when I saw what he was doing, I withdrew my support. My support was based on the promises he made. He’d said that “Government has no business to be in business.” But when he did gain control of the state apparatus, he want all out to increase the government’s control and continue the trend of increasing the size of the government. Instead of the promised “minimum government, maximum governance” (whatever that means), we got an increase of government without any discernible improvement in governance.

      So take on the past four years of the Modi government is that I rate it a minus D. Not quite an F grade but as low a grade that I can give without actually giving it an F.


      1. 2019 is approaching. We need to cast our vote in general election. Atanu, I am curious to know whom would you vote for (if given a chance)? Will it be NOTA? Will it be NDA as Modi government got a D- (not F)? Will it be some other party?


    2. As usual, incoherent and off topic. Why do you do it, Mr Jadav? Don’t you have better things to do? Why not just chill? I am tempted to delete your comment but I will let it stand this time. Next time you post an irrational comment, I will delete it. That’s a promise.


    1. I think this obsession with gender pronouns is a first-world problem. People need to occupy their lives with the trivial when the important things have been taken care of by others. I have heard stories of teenagers who needed psychiatric counseling to treat their depression because they were stressed from figuring out what clothes to wear to parties. I doubt that they’d have time to worry about what to wear if they had to worry about where their next meal was coming from. If you don’t have bathrooms at all, the question of which bathroom the transgendered should use does not come up.

      Funny how languages differ. Bengali is gender-neutral. In French, even inanimate objects have a gender. English is in between — animals have gender, not inanimate objects. As a conservative, I prefer that things evolve slowly and without discontinuous, rapid step changes. My preference for stability is balanced with my desire for improvements.

      Back to the issue. To me, that’s a non-issue. I let the idiots fight and argue over silly things. I have better things to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s been more than 10 years since I have been reading your blog. Given that I started reading it when I was ~20 years old, it has been one of the more significant influences on my thinking about the world (always grateful for that).

    Here’s a blog request from me: a post on some lessons for living life well. There is no shortage of reasons to be sombre about the world and it’s state. Yet, there is beauty in knowledge, human experience, empathy and self-actualization. Would like to hear your thoughts on lessons for living life well based on your experiences (mind, work, family, friends, etc.).
    Would like to refer you to a blog which I feel would appeal to your taste of deep thinking. An Example:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. S,
      Some lessons on living life well? OK, I will write a page on that soon. This is just to ack that I am working on it. Thanks for letting me know that you found my posts of some use. (Knowing that I have been useful to others is one of the good things of life.)

      Thanks for the link to waitbutwhy post. Very interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: