Zero To One

Last Updated on October 14, 2023

I’ve been thinking about this again lately:

What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” This question sounds easy because it’s straightforward. Actually, it’s very hard to answer. It’s intellectually difficult because the knowledge that everyone is taught in school is by definition agreed upon. And it’s psychologically difficult because anyone trying to answer must say something she knows to be unpopular. Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.

Most commonly, I hear answers like the following: “Our educational system is broken and urgently needs to be fixed.” “America is exceptional.” “There is no God.” Those are bad answers. The first and the second statements might be true, but many people already agree with them. The third statement simply takes one side in a familiar debate.

A good answer takes the following form: “Most people believe in x, but the truth is the opposite of x.”

Zero to One

Here’s a few I have been thinking about, they are terrible but I’ll keep trying…

  • There is no such thing as free will, our sense of making decisions is an illusion. (I’ve not come across many people who really believe this to it’s core, but maybe there are some philosophers etc that do believe it)
  • You should fold your yoga mat, not roll it. Don’t contaminate the top with the bottom. (Maybe not so groundbreaking and a bit frivolous, but surely not commonly believed)
  • Everything is inherently meaningless (OK yes maybe there’s a whole branch of philosophy concerned with this, but it seems like most of us pretend life “means” something a lot of the time)