I believe that our society's "mistakephobia" is crippling, a problem that begins in most elementary schools, where we learn to learn what we are taught rather than to form our own goals and to figure out how to achieve them.

We are fed with facts and tested and those who make the fewest mistakes are considered to be the smart ones, so we learn that it is embarrassing to not know and to make mistakes.

Our education system spends virtually no time on how to learn from mistakes, yet this is critical to real learning. As a result, school typically doesn’t prepare young people for real life — unless their lives are spent following instructions and pleasing others.

In my opinion, that’s why so many students who succeed in school fail in life.

— Ray Dalio in Principles

Am I?

Because the most important thing the chef knows that the cooks don’t is that real life and Grand Theft Auto aren’t actually that different. Grand Theft Auto is a fun video game because it’s a fake world where you can do things with no fear. Drive 200mph on the highway. Break into a building. Run over a prostitute with your car. All good in GTA.

Unlike GTA, in real life, the law is a thing and jail is a thing. But that’s about where the differences end. If someone gave you a perfect simulation of today’s world to play in and told you that it’s all fake with no actual consequences—with the only rules being that you can’t break the law or harm anyone, and you still have to make sure to support your and your family’s basic needs—what would you do? My guess is that most people would do all kinds of things they’d love to do in their real life but wouldn’t dare to try, and that by behaving that way, they’d end up quickly getting a life going in the simulation that’s both far more successful and much truer to themselves than the real life they’re currently living. Removing the fear and the concern with identity or the opinions of others would thrust the person into the not-actually-risky Chef Lab and have them bouncing around all the exhilarating places outside their comfort zone—and their lives would take off. That’s the life irrational fears block us from.

Tim Urban

Every open plan office I've ever worked in


Right, let's see if I can whip up a quick review of 2016 while my eldest frustrates herself by trying the difficult task of balancing »


The smallest thing I can think of is not an atom, a quark, nor a lepton. It is my mind, amongst all the great men and women who came before me.

— an acceptance speech I made in a dream some time in August

The combination of hatred and technology is the greatest danger threatening mankind.

Simon Wiesenthal

He who suffers before it is necessary suffers more than is necessary.

– Seneca

It's (another) girl

2014 — the year in review

Firstly... ...let's get the big news out of the way. This year I got married. We have a lovely daughter, made a beautiful home together, »


An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that’s filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge. This clutter is an unfortunate by-product of one of our greatest strengths as a species. We are unbridled pattern recognizers and profligate theorizers. Often, our theories are good enough to get us through the day, or at least to an age when we can procreate. But our genius for creative storytelling, combined with our inability to detect our own ignorance, can sometimes lead to situations that are embarrassing, unfortunate, or downright dangerous—especially in a technologically advanced, complex democratic society that occasionally invests mistaken popular beliefs with immense destructive power (See: crisis, financial; war, Iraq).

David Dunning

A Fred Sanger would not survive today's world of science. With continuous reporting and appraisals, some committee would note that he published little of import between insulin in 1952 and his first paper on RNA sequencing in 1967 with another long gap until DNA sequencing in 1977. He would be labeled as unproductive, and his modest personal support would be denied. We no longer have a culture that allows individuals to embark on long-term—and what would be considered today extremely risky—projects.

I found this particularly striking given that another recent Nobel prize winner, Peter Higgs, who identified the particle that bears his name, the Higgs boson, similarly remarked in an interview with the Guardian that, he doubts a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today’s academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said that: it's difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964.

Sydney Brenner via here

I am not usually a part of the Luddite camp, but I already fucking loathe and despise twitter, and not just because it has a terrible name that makes me think of tweaked-out meth heads and autistic kids. The "look at me!" generation just can't get enough of this crap, can they? Read a book, or have an intelligent conversation, which you can still do online, through more than half-sentence and mindless verbiage. 99.999% of thoughts of 99.999% of people are completely worthless, why would we want a window into that mess???

a comment on the web

UPDATE 2016-11-01 It appears the comment has been deleted. Thanks Wired for keeping public commentary alive.

Redefine thyself

They would have seen the same dull eyes and deadness of thought because that's what poverty does to you.

Eric Pepke

That awkward moment when you go for a pee, only to realise upon your return that you should have really had a poo as well, but now you have to wait an hour otherwise your colleagues will get suspicious.

That awkward moment when you walk up to a visually impaired person on the Tube to offer help, and then Tube staff walks up and says I'll take over from here, mate.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

David Foster Wallace

The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow as if you might not be there tomorrow. It eliminates the vice of procrastination, the sin of postponement, failed communications, failed communions. This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters. meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked. This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.

Anaïs Nin