Epsilon Theory: A 2019 Retrospective

After a year (well, 11+ months, anyway) in which we published 225 standalone pieces and numerous additional multi-topic Zeitgeist posts, we thought it made sense to take stock of what we’ve actually been telling you lot. Instead of the usual “The Year in Review” or “The Year Ahead” nonsense you don’t want to read and we don’t want to write, what we’ve got for you is a quintessentially Epsilon Theory experience.

In short, what we want to do is help you:

  • Recall some pieces that were among our most-read and most popular;
  • Find some new pieces which may have slipped underneath your radar, but which have a lot of influence and explanatory power on the overall Epsilon Theory output for 2019;
  • Find some philosophical rabbit holes to follow for a while, perhaps helping you find connections between concepts and notes we’ve written that aid in understanding or putting them to use.

So, true to form, the first thing we’ve got for you is our 2019 Discovery Map, an NLP-based clustering and graphing of all of our content (other than Zeitgeist pieces from the first half of 2019 which bounced across multiple topics). What you will find is a few high-level, linguistically related clusters with a fair amount of internal diversity and fascinating points of connection to other topics.

Simply mouseover any node / article to see its name and, if you want to read it, click it and go.

Where should you start?

By Navigating the Discovery Map

Highly Central / Influential Articles: Your eye probably gets drawn to the middle of the screen, maybe a couple of those Big, Red Circles at the middle of the central-most cluster. Mouseover them and you’ll see The Long Now, Pt. 2 and The Long Now, Pt. 3, two of our most-read but also most linguistically connected notes of 2019. Starting here, you could follow language and narrative-based relationships to the outer quadrants of the topics we cover by simply following some of the connecting lines.

Highly Interconnected Articles: You may also be attracted to multi-disciplinary articles which bridge the gap between some of the higher level concepts that we write about here. Look for the nodes which connect across to one or more clusters of a different color. For example, the top-most article in the yellow cluster – The Citizen’s Response to the Long Now – is an article called How to Live Safely in a Wall Street Universe, a gem from Ben which includes one of the most powerful bits of advice I think he’s ever written: “Never ask for a cut on an existential trade.”

You’ll find another similarly interconnected piece in my contribution of A Holy Day from earlier this year, or The Stereogram, which bridges our criticisms of Fiat News media with a more intense focus on China this year.

By Reading What Others Read

If you’re looking for a more traditional marker that an article might be worth your time, here are our most-read pieces from 2019:

#1 Most Read: This is Water

#2 Most Read: Yeah, It’s Still Water

#3 Most Read: The Spanish Prisoner

#4 Most Read: Modern Monetary Theory or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the National Debt

#5 Most Read: The Long Now, Pt. 1

By Reading What Others Didn’t Read…But Should Have

We also have a range of notes which people didn’t read as much, but which are among the richest examples of connectivity between core Epsilon Theory concepts. If you’re a frequent reader but looking for some gems you might have missed, this is where you’ll find some good jumping off points to explore other notes.

#1 By Our Own Petard

#2 Send Lawyers, Guns and Money

#3 The Patsy, Revisited

#4 The Age of the High-Functioning Sociopath

#5 In Praise of Work

However you decide to navigate the 2019 Epsilon Theory oeuvre, we hope you find it thought-provoking, enjoyable and worthwhile. For those of you navigating it as pack-members, we remain grateful as always for your support. And for those who, in navigating these notes, find something you want to be a part of, we hope you’ll consider Joining the Pack.

To learn more about Epsilon Theory and be notified when we release new content sign up here. You’ll receive an email every week and your information will never be shared with anyone else.


  1. Thank you all at ET for one of the most thought-provoking blogs.

  2. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    You are welcome, William. Thank you for joining us!

  3. ET guys - congratulations on an impressive year. I read everything you put out - and study / re-read most notes as well - but still, seeing this map and the list, made me want to go back and read several again.

    You might laugh at this, I was getting into high dungeon over why your “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Loose” note wasn’t on the map or in the list, then - instead of shooting first and aiming second, my usual MO - I looked it up to see that, to my shock, it was a 2018 note.

    I can’t believe that note is over a year old as it is very fresh in my mind: for me, it helped define what ET is and what being a pack member means.

    Have a great Christmas and New Years - looking forward to seeing what ET and its pack do in 2020.

    Best, Mark

  4. ET has been a great addition to my life in 2019. Thanks for all you do to help us navigate the present and future.

  5. Avatar for Zenzei Zenzei says:

    Other than Hunt’s problem where he does too much talking and not enough drinking the year was excellent. Well done y’all. I still dream of Wagyu Brisket Chez Rusty.

  6. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    At the top of my New Year’s resolution list is to drink more and talk less. I can do this!

  7. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Thank YOU, Howard. Great to have you in the Pack!

  8. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Thanks for spreading the word, Mark! Excited for what WE can accomplish in 2020.

  9. I’ve mentioned this before on Twitter: I started reading this blog because I was looking on the internet for explanations of why there was no inflation after taking a macroeconomics class for my MBA (I know, I know), and you provided the clearest and most cogent explanation. I’m not a financial professional and yet the more technical stuff is still interesting and the posts on news and politics are some of the best analysis I find anywhere. I came for the finance and I stay for the coherent whole. Fantastic work, insight, and writing - thank you for giving me something useful to do while I’m at “work.”

  10. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    Long time no comment! I have a few things I’ve wanted to say that aren’t related to any specific post, so I figured the 2019 wrap-up is as good a place as any.

    I recently saw this thread on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Stonekettle/status/1202370124797370368
    Wow. It definitely made me think of Epsilon Theory right away. Common Knowledge, but Common Knowledge that you believe even though you know it is not true. It also strongly reminded of the documentary “HyperNormalisation” which is about this exact topic. It’s long, but absolutely stunning and well worth a watch. It’s available in full on YouTube.

    This may sound silly, but in the spirit of, “Why am I seeing this now?”, I feel the popular culture obsession with “Baby Yoda” (the character ‘The Child’ in the Disney+ show “The Mandalorian”) is quite odd. I include myself in this! So darn cute it’s painful. Apparently Werner Herzog(!) even fell in love with the character on set (if you believe the press). It’s probably just a harmless bit of entertainment, but I’m surprised by how strongly people are reacting.

    One final bit, I agree with or at least can relate to many of the ideas shared here, but there’s one I have an issue with from “Things Fall Apart (Part 3) – Politics”. It is perhaps true that one vote doesn’t make much of (or any) difference, but I can’t in good conscience either not vote or vote for a candidate that I feel is worthy but has no chance of winning. The issue for me is the Supreme Court (and other courts). At least with the Supreme Court those appointments are for life (yes, I know they can be impeached, etc. etc.) but there are too many people I care about who could be disastrously harmed by a Supreme Court decision. Ok, just my complaint for the day.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, and hope to make it to a meetup one of these days. Ben and Rusty, come down to NYC, I grew up in CT so I know it’s close! All the best.

  11. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Great to have you back commenting, Tanya. Will watch “HyperNormalization”, and there’s definitely an ET note (or two) to be written about Baby Yoda! I hear you about not voting, but sticking to my guns on this one … more to come on this topic in 2020 (esp. write-in votes). And yes, we will have a Pack Gathering (or two) in NYC coming up soon. - Ben

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