405. “Technothinkers tend to have an “engineering mind” – to put it less politely, they have autistic tendencies. While they don’t usually wear ties, these types tend, of course, to exhibit all the textbook characteristics of nerdiness – mostly lack of charm, interest in objects instead of persons, causing them to neglect their looks. They love precision at the expense of applicability. And they typically share an absence of literary culture.”
407. “It has been more profitable for us to bind together in the wrong direction than to be alone in the right one. Those who have followed the assertive idiot rather than the introspective wise person have passed us some of their genes. This is apparent from a social pathology: psychopaths rally followers.”
409. “For an idea to have survived so long across so many cycles is indicative of its relative fitness. Noise, at least some noise, was filtered out. Mathematically, progress means that some new information is better than past information, not that the average of new information will supplant past information, which means that it is optimal for someone, when in doubt, to systematically reject the new idea, information, or method. Clearly and shockingly, always. Why?”
411. “The best way to verify that you are alive is by checking if you like variations. Remember that food would not have a taste if it weren’t for hunger; results are meaningless without effort, joy without sadness, convictions without uncertainty, and an ethical life isn’t so when stripped of personal risks.”
412. “The story of the wheel also illustrates the point of this chapter: both governments and universities have done very, very little for innovation and discovery, precisely because, in addition to their blinding rationalism, they look for the complicated, the lurid, the newsworthy, the narrated, the scientistic, and the grandiose, rarely for the wheel on the suitcase. Simplicity, I realized, does not lead to laurels.”
419. “Characteristically, Samuelson intimidated those who questioned his techniques with the statement “Those who can, do science, others do methodology.” If you knew math, you could “do science.” This is reminiscent of psychoanalysts who silence their critics by accusing them of having trouble with their fathers.”
421. “Mother Nature does not develop Alzheimer’s – actually there is evidence that even humans would not easily lose brain function with age if they followed a regimen of stochastic exercise and stochastic fasting, took long walks, avoided sugar, bread, white rice, and stock market investments, and refrained from taking economics classes or reading such things as The New York Times.”
423. “The only definition of rationality that I’ve found that is practically, empirically, and mathematically rigorous is the following: what is rational is that which allows for survival. Unlike modern theories by psychosophasters, it maps to the classical way of thinking. Anything that hinders one’s survival at an individual, collective, tribal, or general level is, to me, irrational.”
434. “During a radio interview, when I tried explaining to the journalist the nuance and the difference between the two statements I was told that I was “too complicated”; so I simply walked out of the studio, leaving them in the lurch. The depressing part is that those people who were committing such mistakes were educated journalists entrusted to represent the world to us lay persons.”
442. “Effectively, there is no democracy without such an unconditional symmetry in the rights to express yourself, and the gravest threat is the slippery slope in the attempts to limit speech on grounds that some of it may hurt some people’s feelings. Such restrictions do not necessarily come from the state itself, rather from the forceful establishment of an intellectual monoculture by an overactive thought police in the media and cultural life.”
446. “Further, my characterization of a loser is someone who, after making a mistake, doesn’t introspect, doesn’t exploit it, feels embarrassed and defensive rather than enriched with a new piece of information, and tries to explain why he made the mistake rather than moving on. These types often consider themselves the “victims” of some large plot, a bad boss, or bad weather.”
450. “A word on the display of emotions. Almost no one can conceal his emotions. Behavioral scientists believe that one of the main reasons why people become leaders is not from what skills they seem to possess, but rather from what extremely superficial impression they make on others through hardly perceptible physical signals – what we call today “charisma,” for example. The biology of the phenomenon is now well studied under the subject heading “social emotions.”
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