10 Memorable Quotes: Freshman Year Recap (Part 1 of 2)

QUOTES: Every time I’m at some artsy cafe, it’s not hard to notice people jostling around their tables with their smartphones to capture the best angle of their food, their beautifully-lit faces, or both. Now that record-keeping is about as effortless as holding up a metal rectangle close to one’s face and tapping RECORD with a stubby thumb, it’s become quite the ritual for lots of people like me. Though my medium of choice isn’t artsy photography, I do confess: I have a thing for writing down juicy quotes and insights that I come across in books and blogs. Though I find it satisfying enough to leave a breadcrumb trail of insight nuggets for my private enjoyment, I bet it’ll be way more satisfying if I share them with the rest of the world. So, in the spirit of my jolly end-of-school-year recap, I’ve curated a list of my 10 favorite quotes from the various things I’ve bookmarked this year, from the exploding fire hydrant of knowledge I call the internet… and books… and cool people.

  1. “…When searching for real truth, favor experimentation over storytelling (data over anecdote), favor experience over history (which can be cherry-picked), and favor clinical knowledge over grand theories. Figure out what you know and what’s a guess, and become humble about your understanding of the past.This recognition and respect of the power of our minds to invent and love stories can help us reduce our misunderstanding of the world.” — Farnam Street Blog on the Narrative fallacy
  2. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” — CS Lewis
  3. “What you would be mistaken about, you’re already mistaken about. Owning up to it doesn’t make you any more mistaken. Not being open about it doesn’t make it go away. You’re already “wrong” in the sense that your anticipations aren’t perfectly aligned with reality. /…/ If you want more power over the world, you need to focus your uncertainty — and this only reliably makes you righter if you repeatedly test your beliefs. Which means sometimes being wrong, and noticing. (And then, of course, changing your mind.) Being wrong is how you learn — by testing hypotheses.” — Post on Lesswrong.com
  4. “If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.” — Moran Cerf
  5. “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” — Soren Kierkegaard
  6. “Here’s a fascinating fact about us: Contradictions bother us, at least when we’re forced to confront them, which is just another way of saying that we are susceptible to reason. And if you look at the history of moral progress, you can trace a direct pathway from reasoned arguments to changes in the way that we actually feel. Time and again, a thinker would lay out an argument as to why some practice was indefensible, irrational, inconsistent with values already held. Their essay would go viral, get translated into many languages, get debated at pubs and coffee houses and salons, and at dinner parties, and influence leaders, legislators, popular opinion. Eventually, their conclusions get absorbed into the common sense of decency, erasing the tracks of the original argument that had gotten us there. Few of us today feel any need to put forth a rigorous philosophical argument as to why slavery is wrong or public hangings or beating children. By now, these things just feel wrong. But just those arguments had to be made, and they were, in centuries past.” — Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
  7. “An ideology of extreme personal freedom can be dangerous because it encourages people to leave homes, jobs, cities, and marriages in search of personal and professional fulfillment– thereby, breaking the relationships that probably were their best hope for such fulfillment. Seneca was right: no one can live happily who has regard to himself alone, and transforms everything into a question of his own utility.John Dunn was right: No man, woman, or child is an island.” — Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis
  8. “I am particularly fond of “stupid” questions. A stupid question asks about things so fundamental that everyone assumes the answer is obvious. But when the question is taken seriously, it often turns out to be profound: the obvious often is not obvious at all. What we assume to be obvious is simply the way things have always been done, but now that it is questioned, we don’t actually know the reasons. Quite often the solution to problems is discovered through stupid questions, through questioning the obvious.” — The Design of Everyday Things (p. 227)
  9. “Free speech is a pragmatic mean to a moral end.” — Felica Nimue Ackerman, making her case about what makes free speech a morally good thing. (she’s my philosophy professor!)
  10. “While we always tell ourselves that out-of-box thinking is best, we take for granted how important that box really is to us. “ A problem solving set helps you narrow your options, which in turn eases the search for a solution. Thus, in solving the nine-dot problem, you didn’t waste any time wondering whether you should try drawing the lines while holding the pencil between your toes, or whether the problem was hard because you were sitting down while working on it, instead of standing up. These are foolish ideas, so you brushed past them. But what identifies as foolish?” — my CLPS 0200 Human Cognition textbook (pg 494)
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