Practical Wisdom

“Science is constantly in draft form.”
— Samuel Arbesman

“The bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come.”
— Frederic Bastiat

“Most geniuses — especially those who lead others — prosper not by deconstructing intricate complexities but by exploiting unrecognized simplicities.”
— Andy Benoit

“All models are wrong; some are useful.”
— George P. Box

“Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.”
— William F. Buckley, Jr.

“The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an illogicality; yet is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait.”
— G. K. Chesterton

“Humility means loving the truth more than oneself.”
— Andre Comte-Sponville

“Risk means more things can happen than will happen.”
— Elroy Dimson

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”
— Albert Einstein

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
— Albert Einstein

“The difference between what the most and the least learned people know is inexpressibly trivial in relation to that which is unknown.”
— Albert Einstein

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”
— Richard Feynman

“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”
— Richard Feynman

“Exercising the right of occasional suppression and slight modification, it is truly absurd to see how plastic a limited number of observations become, in the hands of men with preconceived ideas.”
— Francis Galton, Meteorographica, or Methods of Mapping the Weather (1863)

“Individuals who desire the same thing are united by something so powerful, that as long as they can share whatever they desire, they remain the best of friends. As soon as they cannot, they become the worst of enemies.”
— René Girard

“Every finding has scores of older, closely related findings trailing behind, each having been disproved, amending the scientific narrative. Science orbits the truth; it doesn’t live there.”
— Joseph Jebelli

“Ideas become part of who we are. People get invested in their ideas, especially if they get invested publicly and identify with their ideas. So there are many forces against changing your mind. Flip-flopping is a bad word to people. It shouldn’t be. Within sciences, people who give up on an idea and change their mind get good points. It’s a rare quality of a good scientist, but it’s an esteemed one.”
— Daniel Kahneman

“When I work I have no sunk costs. I like changing my mind. Some people really don’t like it but for me changing my mind is a thrill. It’s an indication that I’m learning something. So I have no sunk costs in the sense that I can walk away from an idea that I’ve worked on for a year if I can see a better idea. It’s a good attitude for a researcher. The main track that young researchers fall into is sunk costs. They get to work on a project that doesn’t work and that is not promising but they keep at it. I think too much persistence can be bad for you in the intellectual world.”
— Daniel Kahneman

“When a person with money meets a person with experience, the person with the experience winds up with the money and the person with the money winds up with the experience.”
— Harvey MacKay

“Even though many things can happen, only one will.”
— Howard Marks

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”
— H. L. Mencken

“You must know the big ideas in the big disciplines, and use them routinely — all of them, not just a few. Most people are trained in one model — economics, for example — and try to solve all problems in one way. You know the old saying: to the man with a hammer, the world looks like a nail. This is a dumb way of handling problems.”
— Charlie Munger

“Another thing I think should be avoided is extremely intense ideology because it cabbages up one’s mind. … When you’re young it’s easy to drift into loyalties and when you announce that you’re a loyal member and you start shouting the orthodox ideology out, what you’re doing is pounding it in, pounding it in, and you’re gradually ruining your mind.”
— Charlie Munger

“It is totally unproductive to think the world has been unfair to you. Every tough stretch is an opportunity.”
— Charlie Munger

“Indeed, the average result has to be the average result. By definition, everybody can’t beat the market. As I always say, the iron rule of life is that only 20% of the people can be in the top fifth.”
— Charlie Munger

“Fanatic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure.”
— Reinhold Niebuhr

“The orthodoxy produced by intellectual fashions, specialisation, and the appeal to authorities is the death of knowledge, and that the growth of knowledge depends entirely upon disagreement.”
— Karl Popper, The Myth of the Framework

“It seems to me certain that more people are killed out of righteous stupidity than out of wickedness.”
— Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge

“It is better to be vaguely right than exactly wrong.”
— Carveth Read

“The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.”
— Joan Robinson

“Stepping outside the feeling you are right about everything and saying ‘I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong,’ can be the single greatest moral, intellectual, and creative leap you can make.”
— Kathryn Schulz

“Faith moves us forward; skeptical critical thinking keeps us balanced.”
Gary Taubes

“The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.”
— Peter Thiel

“The Information Age is one of knowledge, which is not the same as wisdom. Knowledge is superficial; it is shallow; it has breadth but it has no depth. It is all brain and no mind.”
— Kent Thune

“What the pupil must learn, if he learns anything at all, is that the world will do most of the work for you, provided you cooperate with it by identifying how it really works and aligning with those realities. If we do not let the world teach us, it teaches us a lesson.”
— Joseph Tussman

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
— Elie Wiesel

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