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The Runner’s High of Creative Work

Refining a pitch or speech or blog post usually sucks. 

But sometimes you discover that an idea is so much bigger than you had originally imagined. 

It feels like the world is revealing a secret to you.

You become obsessed with possibilities.

The best.

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Popular things that are stupid

I took to Twitter earlier this month to ask the age-old question, “what’s something popular that you think is stupid?”

You all did not disappoint.

Ironically, I love and enjoy nearly 90% of the things people called “stupid,” but I guess that was par for the course for this particular question?

Here are a few salty truth bombs you all shared. May they help the rest of us lift the wool from our eyes…

“What’s something popular that you think is stupid?”

Even accounting for its relative importance, it’s incredible how much airtime we give politics.

For example… did you know there were zero commercial airline deaths in 2017?

How much airtime did SpaceX get when they landed THREE rockets back to Earth on the same mission? Something no nation-state has ever been able to do with one rocket.

I’m confident both stories got less airtime than whatever Ted Cruz tweeted those same weeks.

Wake up, sheeple: factory farming will be looked back on as one of mankind’s most horrific, immoral, cruel institutions.

Most of us could easily eat less meat and still live healthy lives.

I say that as somebody doing little to combat the problem.

I asked for clarity on the Gmail one: he hates ads in his inbox and Gmail’s auto-sorting system. Both of those were reasons I switched over to Superhuman, which he also hates. I can’t win this one.

I was relieved to hear I’m not the only one who didn’t “get” Game of Thrones. I tried to get into it. I couldn’t. Breaking Bad is clearly a superior show. Sue me. Unsubscribe. I do not care.

Yes, and Breaking Bad is firmly in the 1%.

Long-time Stew’s Letter readers know my opinions on Baby On Board bumper stickers. They are the enemy of the American people.

I also asked this question to a group at my birthday dinner last week. A couple of highlights: 
 

“Texting back-and-forth about something when a phone call would clearly be faster.”

And:
 

“When people say, ‘I did a thing.’ The false humility drives me nuts. Own what you did!”

Is there anything popular that you think is stupid?

Reply with an answer here.

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Brief Lesson I May Or May Not Have Learned The Hard Way

If the people you hired seem dumb…

If the people you hired seem lazy…

You either hired the wrong people or you failed to motivate the right ones.

Either way, you are the dumbass.

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Write Like A Clown: Wisdom from The Onion’s Scott Dikkers

If you want to write funny, start by writing like a clown.

The juiciest piece of writing advice from Scott Dikker’s “How To Write Funny.” Get over yourself and know when to write like a clown…

Inside every creative person, there lives a clown.

The clown is a child at heart. It wants to have fun and is overflowing with ideas.

It’s also a prankster. It’s irreverent. Rules be damned, the clown does whatever it finds amusing.

The problem, though, is that not everything the clown finds amusing is amusing to others.

Ugh. Another balloon dog? This guy sucks.

Even worse, sometimes the clown has completely insane ideas. They scare people. They’re weird. Did this guy just pull 18 feet of rope out of his throat? Sometimes the clown creeps everybody out.

If the clown had a normal day job, his manager would probably drug test him. Frequently.

Clowns need editors

But, creative people also contain within themselves an editor.

Editors are not clowns.

They are calm, collected, judging figures with killer tastes and precise opinions.

Whereas clowns produce a fountain of new ideas, an editor can pick the one that matters and has a clear vision of how it can be improved.

From Scott Dikker’s short book How To Write Funny (Dikkers was the editor-in-chief of The Onion for two decades):

The Editor is the left side of the brain: logical, objective, organized, and analytical.

Whereas clowns are responsible for prolific, uncontrollable creative output, editors are responsible for extracting the diamonds in the rough.

Without clowns, there are no diamonds.

Without editors, diamonds remain unearthed.

Clowns and editors: the ultimate frenemies

The problem, then, is obvious: these two characters cannot co-exist peacefully.

If a clown behaves like an editor, they’ll get nervous, second-guess their work, and fail to produce much of anything.

From How To Write Funny

Most writers are too much of an Editor. Instead of trusting their instincts, they question every choice, and judge every idea before it has a chance to shine.

As I wrote the first draft of this post, I had to fight the urge to go back and edit my work. Every time I did, it broke my flow and had to claw my way back to “clown mode.”

Creative work begins with the clown

So, when we start something new, the clown must be given free rein.

The editor should be tied up, blindfolded, and locked in an adjacent room. If he attempts to escape, a couple of large Russian men should clamp jumper cables to him and ominously point towards a big switch on the wall.

Dikkers again:

Once you have an idea that you like, be it for something big or small, it’s time to put on your Clown hat again and write a first draft.

Lady Gaga once said that’s exactly what she does when she writes new songs:

“When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time.”

While few of us may like to think of ourselves as “clowns,” it’s the exact identity we may need to take on when we want to create something new.

Speaking of which… this first draft is done.

Untie that editor.


This post was first sent in a Stew’s Letter, a weekly-ish email for ambitious, curious people. You can join below:

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The 10 Yard Rule Of Creative Work

A few years back, somebody I worked with introduced me to the “10 Yard Rule” of creative work:

If you’re stuck on something, walk outside.

A hint at a solution is likely to hit you within your first 10 yards of walking.

It’s amazing how often it’s true.


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The Mere-Exposure Effect: Our “Tastes” Are Wildly Biased By What’s Familiar

Why do religious people typically adopt the same faith as their families?

How many top-grossing movies are actually the “best” film in their genre?

How the hell does Pitbull continue to have a career?

A tendency we all share provides at least a partial answer to these three great mysteries…

*Clears throat*

We prefer things that we’re already familiar with.

As in, we often like things *because* we’ve seen them many times, not because we’ve evaluated many options and have chosen the movie or song or meal that brings us the most enjoyment.

Starting in the 1960’s, a handful of studies revealed this phenomenon (“The Mere-Exposure Effect“).

The studies showed that we prefer art we’ve seen before (researchers could manufacture people’s taste in art by exposing them to certain art more often), find familiar-looking faces more attractive, and even start to like unfamiliar shapes and characters as we start to see them more frequently.

Stephen King knew this

After Stephen King became a famous author, he began to wonder if his continued success was due to good luck (specifically, his existing fame) or his ability to write exceptional books.

So he decided to start publishing books under a pen name, “Richard Bachman”, to see how they’d sell.

He published a handful of novels as Bachman, all in the same genre and a similar voice as King, and…

The books completely flopped.

From Wikipedia:

[One Bachman book] sold 28,000 copies during its initial run—and then ten times as many when it was revealed that Bachman was, in fact, King.

Same books. Same distribution. Very different results.

The evolutionary explanation

In Hit Makers, Derek Thompson shares one explanation of why we like things merely because we’ve seen them before:

“The evolutionary explanation for the exposure effect is simple: if you recognize an animal or plant, then it hasn’t killed you yet.”

If a meal hasn’t killed us and it’s reasonably enjoyable, why try something new?

If the office dog hasn’t mauled us yet, our guard may go down a little bit more each day and we may end up loving the damn thing.

The same goes for new people in our lives.

How to use this to our advantage

The exposure effect suggests that many of our “tastes” are not consciously developed by “us,” per se; they’re often just reflections of whatever chance circumstances we have happened to find ourselves in.

This may be one good reason to consciously try new things every once in a while, lest we assume that our own particular life circumstances have exposed us to the most useful or most enjoyable experiences, people, food, music, and ideas.

And, further, if we want to ruthlessly exploit this tendency in others, we may want to make an effort to become more noticed at work, in our social circles, or online.

Since people often prefer things for no other reason than that they are familiar, we may not necessarily need to become more skilled…

We need to be more visible.


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The Best (Short) Quotes I Found This Decade

I think I read an entire Library of Congress-worth of information this past decade. No joke.

Thankfully, I took notes and have an extensive record of my favorite ideas from the various books, tweets, blog posts, and random papers & PDFs I read in the 2010’s.

For the sake of saving you a decade-worth of reading, I’ve curated the most pithy, to-the-point quotes that resonated with me as I’ve worked through my most intense, volatile, and remarkable decade on Earth yet.

Hopefully, you find some wisdom in them. Or, better yet, I hope a few even spur you to action in the 2020’s.

On vision & long-term thinking

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.”
– Matsuo Basho

On being yourself

“Escape competition through authenticity.”
– Naval Ravikant

“Belief in oneself and knowing who you are—that’s the foundation of everything great.”
– Jay-Z

“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts. They come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Be yourself so that the people looking for you can find you.”
– Arlan Hamilton

On thinking clearly

“I cannot remember a single first-formed hypothesis which had not after a time to be given up or greatly modified.”
– Charles Darwin

“Lying to ourselves disables us entirely from making needed changes.”
– Unknown source

“What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”
– Warren Buffett

“Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Day by day, and at the end of the day-if you live long enough-like most people, you will get out of life what you deserve.”
– Charlie Munger

On evaluating others

“To understand someone’s priorities, watch what they do between Friday at 5p and Monday at 8am.”
– Anthony Pompliano

On challenging ourselves and others

“The reason most people fail instead of succeed is they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte

“I never learned from a man who agreed with me.”
– Robert A. Heinlein

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”
– Norman Vincent Peale

“You can’t learn if you think you already know.”
– Ryan Holiday

“If you want success, figure out the price then pay it.”
– Scott Adams

“If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”
– Unknown source

“I understand that there’s a guy inside me who wants to lay in bed, smoke weed all day, and watch cartoons. My whole life is a series of stratagems to avoid and outwit that guy.”
– Anthony Bourdain

“The critic hates most that which he would have done himself if he had had the guts.”
– Steven Pressfield

On courage

“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.”
– Unknown source

“I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, powerful, engaged people? Are busy doing.”
– Shonda Rhimes

On doing creative work

“…follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
– Franz Kafka

“When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time.”
– Lady Gaga

“The most important factor in doing original work is to do it before the errands, not after.”
– Paul Graham

“You need to immediately take on the project that excites you the most, with no procrastination. Stop stewing in past imagined failures that prevent you from taking action in the present.”
– Neil Strauss

On work and careers

“You are doing what you love when you love to sweat the details.”
– Jason Lemkin

“Great opportunities rarely have ‘great opportunity’ in the subject line.”
– Scott Belsky

On how to live

“One of my definitions of happiness is working all day with the knowledge that I’ll be seeing an interesting friend in the evening.”
– Christopher Hitchens

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action”
– Benjamin Disraeli

On living with urgency

“If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting the rest of your life.”
– Shane Parrish

On writing

“Write to please yourself. When you write to please others, you write to please no one.”
– Ben Franklin

“This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.”
– Winston Churchill

On leadership

“The person who knows how will almost always report to the person that knows why.”
– Shane Parrish

On building character

“A principle isn’t a principle until it costs you something.”
– Bill Bernbach

“It’s better to be interested than interesting.”
– Oprah Winfrey

“How you do this is how you do everything.”
– Haseeb Qureshi

On genius

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer

Well, there you have it. 10 years-worth of pithy quotes.

Here’s to discovering many new ideas and new thinkers this decade.

There’s so much to learn, so little time.


This post was first sent in a Stew’s Letter, a weekly-ish email for ambitious, curious people. You can join below:

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How To Use Interpersonal Communication To Get What You Want

A non-boring guide on how to use interpersonal communication effectively. This is Part One of a longer Stew’s Letter series (subscribe to receive future installments).

In 2013, a group of researchers traveled to one of the only remaining hunter-gatherer communities on Earth and they discovered something wild…

In an extremely primitive society, the most sought-after members were not the most talented hunters or fishers, it was those who were the best at storytelling.

What?

Indeed… the Agta tribes deeply valued strong communication skills.

The most talented storytellers in each tribe:

  • Had greater reproductive success

  • Were preferred social partners

  • Had their wishes cooperated with more frequently

  • Were members of more cooperative tribes (everybody got along better)

Being a talented communicator makes people want to work with you and gives you some critical advantages over your less-articulate peers. Oh, and it helps you get laid apparently.

So… why do so many of us suck at communicating with each other?

I have a few theories, but first…

What is “Interpersonal Communication”?

Interpersonal communication is the act of transferring a message between two brains.

Let’s imagine that you have a message you’d like to transfer from your brain to another brain:

How to transfer a message from your brain to another brain

If you want to tell somebody about your new puppy, you could text them that you just adopted a puppy, you could tell them a story of something adorable the dog recently did, you send them a photo of the dog, etc., etc.

Typically, we default to using whatever channel of communication is easiest or quickest for us, but our default may not always be the most effective channel for getting our message across.

If we want to convey just how adorable our new dog is, a text or one-line anecdote might not be enough.

Let’s take a look at our interpersonal communication toolbox…

The most common interpersonal communication mediums

Verbal Communication

Verbal communication is the use of sounds and words to communicate a message. (Duh)

In our example, it’d be telling somebody in-person that our puppy is cute:

(The receiving brain processes the words and constructs meaning…)

Unfortunately, words alone may not be enough to get our message across — what type of dog is it? What exactly does the dog look like? How cute is it really?

WE know all of these things, but the recipient of our message has zero clue what our dog looks like.

“I have a cute puppy” only gets a fraction of our message across.

Advantages (Verbal Communication)

  • Fast

  • Convenient

  • Real-time feedback with the recipient of the message is possible

  • Collaborative: others can quickly build on your ideas and vice versa

Disadvantages (Verbal Communication)

  • Speaker often thinks while they speak, leading to half-baked ideas / information that might be confusing or unhelpful to recipient

  • Complexity ceiling: it’s difficult to explain complex concepts with words alone

  • Verbal messages can be drowned out if contradicted by body language or other communication channels

Written Communication

Written communication is the use of written symbols to communicate information.

When we write, we have an opportunity to think, clarify, and edit our thoughts more than when we rely on verbal communication.

However, we’re still tasked with the same challenge: we must use words to encode and transfer our message.

Our ability to be an effective communicator is largely constrained by our ability to use the most information-rich words for our intended recipient.

Advantages (Written Communication)

  • Sender has time to clarify, edit, and review their thoughts

  • Scaleable: there is a record of the message that can be easily shared or revisited

  • Focus: effective writing can cut noise and communicate a precise message

Disadvantages (Written Communication)

  • Lacks many of the subtleties and nuance of in-person communication. Example: messages can seem “colder” than they’re intended because there’s not a real, live speaker or feedback loop between the sender and receiver.

  • As with verbal communication, words alone do not capture the entire scope of human experience and often seem “lacking”

  • Writing well requires meaningful time and effort

Body Language

Whenever I travel to a non-english-speaking country, I’m always reminded of a simple truth:

Humans can communicate tons of messages without speaking a word to each other.

If a person next to you in a meeting is nervously tapping their leg and scanning the room, then they have broadcasted a message: I am nervous and uneasy about something.

Similarly, when we talk about our new puppy, we can use body language to help communicate our message…

If we’re animated and glowing, the listener may be able to call to mind when they’ve felt that way about an adorable furry creature and visualize what our puppy must be like.

If we said “my new puppy is so cute” but this was what we looked like while we said it:

… people would be like, “uhhhh, it doesn’t seem like you’re excited about this puppy and also you are making me uncomfortable.”

Advantages (Body Language)

  • Fast, unambiguous transfer of emotions

  • Low-effort for the sender (our physical state does the talking)

  • Intent of sender is more clear. Example: if a person’s body language is calm/caring while they deliver bad news, we can trust their intent (vs. a cold-sounding email).

  • Real-time feedback between the sender and receiver of message (people play off each other’s body language)

  • Gives an extra “punch” to verbal messages

Disadvantages (Body Language)

  • Limited information bandwidth. You can’t teach math using only body language…

  • Can’t stand on its own for many circumstances and often needs to be coupled with other forms of communication (verbal) to be effective

Bonus: When Verbal Communication and Body Language Go Terribly Wrong

 ^ Click this thumbnail to watch the funniest video on the internet. ^ Click this thumbnail to watch the funniest video on the internet.

Intended message: “I am a suitable candidate for the city treasurer’s office.”

Actual message:  “I am completely unhinged.”

Bonus: When Verbal Communication and Body Language Go RIGHT

 ^ Click thumbnail to watch video (1 min) ^ Click thumbnail to watch video (1 min)

Intended message: “A computer is like a bicycle in that it amplifies certain capabilities that humans already possess.”

Actual message:  “A computer is like a bicycle in that it amplifies certain capabilities that humans already possess.”

Images, Video, and Other Media

Last, but definitely not least…

It’s never been easier to communicate a message using zero words!

We can use a photo, a video, a sketch, a graph, or some other visual or auditory representation of our message.

As the old saying goes… “A picture is worth 1,000 words.”

In the case of our puppy, that’s 100% true.

Why say “I have a cute puppy” when we could just show somebody a photo that captures nearly all of his cuteness?

Boom!

Advantages

  • Removes errors in how the recipient might “imagine” or otherwise construct their own understanding of a message (i.e. here is a photo that shows you exactly what my dog looks like)

  • High-bandwidth transfer of information. Again, “A picture is worth 1,000 words” -> often true!

Disadvantages

  • Sometimes weak as a standalone medium. Could you imagine the Humans of New York Instagram channel without the stories/captions?

So, what’s next?

Okay, now that we have our interpersonal communication quiver ready, we’ll explore how to choose the most effective communication mediums to get the things that you want.

Stay tuned: it’ll be sent in the next Stew’s Letter.

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American Kingpin: Silk Road Makes Theranos Look Like A Disney Movie

Ross Ulbricht Linkedin

A short summary of the unbelievable Silk Road story as captured in Nick Bilton’s American Kingpin.

Can I make a confession?

Seriously, can I come clean about something?

For all of the reading I do, I don’t think that I’ve ever, honest-to-God, read an entire book from the very first page all the way through the very last.

Straight up.

I read non-fiction, so by page 200 I usually get the idea and can move on with my life. I skip around, quit boring books, and just never quite finish stuff. Sue me.

But that all changed this weekend…

I picked up Nick Bilton’s American Kingpin and quite literally could not put it down.

Look at my Kindle stats:
American kingpin Kindle stats

The data don’t lie.

American Kingpin is the true story behind The Silk Road — you remember: the website on the “Dark Web” where you used to be able to buy any drug imaginable?

Oh, and not just drugs. You could buy weapons, hitmen, cyanide, human organs…

The Silk Road started as a libertarian “side hustle”

As you can imagine, the backstory of how the site came to be is nutty:

An idealistic 20-something, Ross Ulbricht, builds a website — a completely unregulated black market “Amazon.com” — to express his libertarian values and sets out to unseat what he believes is a cruel, unjust government (the U.S. government).

Ulbricht starts to build his Dark Web drug marketplace while running his friend’s bookstore. The site was a side hustle of sorts.

But before long, it takes off and starts to occupy more and more of his time.

Soon, he’s processing millions of dollars each month through his site (people love drugs!) and has built something that history’s most esteemed drug lords and startup founders alike would envy.

From hacker to kingpin

Ulbricht quickly transforms from an idealist into a cold, pragmatic, Walter White-type character who relishes the challenge of building his billion-dollar drug empire.

Ulbricht ditches his day job to go full-time on The Silk Road and begins sliding deeper and deeper into “evil” territory as his power and wealth skyrocket.

For example, here’s an ethical fork in the road he faced:

“Question for you,” one of his employees had asked at the time. “Do we allow selling kidneys and livers?”

Would you like to guess his answer?

Mhmmm…

None of Ulbricht’s friends realize what he’s up to…

In true Breaking Bad fashion, the Silk Road founder carries on a normal-ish existence to the outside world for most of the story.

He lives in San Francisco with some roommates, goes camping on the weekends, works from coffee shops, and generally lives a life indistinguishable from a solo startup founder in SF (which I guess he technically was…).

Indeed, Ross Ulbricht, the leader of one of the largest drug empires in history, was indistinguishable from an SF “tech bro”:

After breakfast each morning, while René and Selena sauntered off to work, their new roommate, Ross, would wave good-bye and wander town the street to a nearby coffee shop to oversee his drug empire.

The government begins hunting for him

Before long, every three-letter agency in the government starts to hunt the person or people running The Silk Road.

They hit nothing but dead ends for roughly two years, until a semi-rogue DEA agent befriends “Dread Pirate Roberts” (Ulbricht’s online persona), chatting and emailing him frequently, weaving a fabricated backstory about being an experienced large-scale drug smuggler.

Ulbricht hires the cop to carry out a hit on a former Silk Road employee, which he “does,” successfully convincing Ulbricht that he’s loyal and reliable.

But then the cop crosses an unimaginable ethical line and… well… you know what, sorry. You’re just going to have to read this thing if you want to know.

This story, which, again, is true, rivals some of the best crime novels. There are dirty cops. Hitmen. Drug dealers. And almost as many ethical gray areas as there are characters.

But as compelling as the story is, the storytelling is worth its own mention. The book is written as narrative non-fiction and the details that that the author chose to include are brilliant.

Anyway, if you’re into these sorts of nonfiction narrative stories, here’s the link: American Kingpin.

If you’re not in the market for a page-turner, at least add the Silk Road founder on Linkedin.

… but don’t be surprised if it takes a little while to get a response. He’s in prison for the rest of his life.


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God Is Dead: He Was Killed By These 6 Sam Harris Quotes

Six devastatingly-good Sam Harris quotes on God, morality, and modernity.

Hedonism didn’t kill God, rationality did; and there are few more rational thinkers in this galaxy than the author Sam Harris.

For 20 years, Sam Harris has been launching truth-seeking missiles into the heart of humanity’s most cherished traditions.

After years of following his work, I still think some of Sam Harris’ best quotes are in his first book The End of Faith –– an unrelentingly rational book that fundamentally shaped how I think about religion.

Here are six mind-stretching Sam Harris quotes from The End of Faith that deleted the space previously reserved in my mind for “God”:


“The danger of religious faith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy.

Because each new generation of children is taught that religious propositions need not be justified in the way that all others must, civilization is still being besieged by the armies of the preposterous.

We are, even now, killing ourselves over ancient literature.

Who would have thought something so tragically absurd could be possible?”

– Sam Harris, The End of Faith


“Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it.

Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence what so ever.”

– Sam Harris, The End of Faith


“Anyone being flown to a distant city for heart-bypass surgery has conceded, tacitly at least, that we have learned a few things about physics, geography, engineering, and medicine since the time of Moses.”

– Sam Harris, The End of Faith


“The doors leading out of scriptural literalism do not open from the inside.

The moderation we see among nonfundamentalists is not some sign that faith itself has evolved; it is, rather, the product of the many hammer blows of modernity that have exposed certain tenets of faith to doubt.”

– Sam Harris, The End of Faith


“It is time we admitted, from kings and presidents on down, that there is no evidence that any of our books was authored by the Creator of the universe.

The Bible, it seems certain, was the work of sand-strewn men and women who thought the earth was flat and for whom a wheelbarrow would have been a breathtaking example of emerging technology.

To rely on such a document as the basis for our worldview, however heroic the efforts of redactors, is to repudiate two thousand years of civilizing insights that the human mind has only just begun to inscribe upon itself through secular politics and scientific culture.

We will see that the greatest problem confronting civilization is not merely religious extremism: rather, it is the larger set of cultural and intellectual accommodations we have made to faith itself.”

– Sam Harris, The End of Faith


“We live in a world of unimaginable surprises – from the fusion energy that lights the sun to the genetic and evolutionary consequences of this light’s dancing for eons upon the earth – and yet paradise conforms to our most superficial concerns with all the fidelity of a Caribbean cruise.

This is wondrously strange.

If one didn’t know better, one would think that man, in his fear of losing all that he loves, had created heaven, along with its gatekeeper God, in his own image.”

– Sam Harris, The End of Faith


Oh, and here’s a bonus Sam Harris quote from Letter To A Christian Nation:

“The problem with religion, because it’s been sheltered from criticism, is that it allows people to believe en masse what only idiots or lunatics could believe in isolation.”

– Sam Harris, Letter To A Christian Nation

Question everything, people… especially claims about the universe made before the invention of the telescope.


This post was first sent in a Stew’s Letter, a weekly-ish email for ambitious, curious people. You can join below: