Hackery, Math & Design

Steven Wittens i

Lessons From Interesting People

Lessons From Interesting People


“Sorry but if sincerely defending your beliefs is clearly and easily distinguishable from trolling, your beliefs are basic.”


Education is the art of conveying a sense of truth by telling a series of decreasing lies.

Stories are templates for ideas our brains most easily absorb. Shape your idea into a classic story, and it will go right in, even if it's made up.

Performance is a natural part of communication. Embrace it and you can become a superhero to others, as long as you don't actually believe it.

Truly understanding people means understanding all their little vanities, self-deceptions and flaws. Start with your own.

Only you can truly motivate yourself. Find your goal and never stop working towards it. It may take 20 years.

Dare to dream and push on, even through personal hell. Sometimes it takes a friend or a crowd. Sometimes the only way out is through.

Don't just think outside the box. Learn to exit the world around it, and observe it from all angles simultaneously. Choose the most optimal move for all possible games you find yourself in.

Always do it with style, even if you have to copy someone else first. Practice.

Social graphs pass along proof-of-work. You can win by producing it and racing the crowd. The people who validate it have competing and often low or wrong standards.

Social harmony depends on an accurate simulation of the other party. People who see a gift of information will continue to grow. People who see threats in every message will never feel safe.

Rituals and tradition are the deep protocols of society, supporting its glacial macro-evolution. We retain and perform them in obfuscated form, often mistaking our lack of understanding for obsolescence.

Foundational myths tell us to learn from the past and avoid it, that we know who's good or evil, what's virtuous or sinful. Yet every generation creates demons from its own ranks, rarely the same as the last.

Don't teach them to look for swastikas, only the jackboot stomping on a face, and mind your own step.

Ghosts are real, they are called egregores and live inside groups of people. We can reverse engineer them to figure out how they work.

Civilization is the art of compressing lessons and erasing mistakes, to fit increasing knowledge into a fixed biological substrate. Decay is the opposite, when mistakes are compressed and lessons are erased.

winzip trial

This article contains graphics made with WebGL, which your browser does not seem to support.
Try Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. ×