Most people are more trouble than they're worth for most interactions.

It takes a lot of work to understand them and to be understood. The exception is when someone is a stereotypical, interchangeable person. Then they can be "understood" with little work, because you already learned about the same traits when meeting other people. The more unique someone is, and the more unique you are, the bigger project mutual understanding will be.

People are, or at least should be, really complex. A person is kinda like a whole (animal) species of their own. One person is (or should be) a big category like "cats" or "cows".


When you work with other people's ideas, you have to fix a lot of things up. E.g. you might remove induction, justificationism, foundationalism, altruism and pragmatism. It can take a bunch of changes to get an idea that would work for you.

Other people aren't going to ask all the same questions you would before accepting an idea. They aren't going to have the same standards of clarity and precision. They'll have a different style. They'll have different priorities for what to emphasize and flesh out, and what aspects get less attention. They will fit the idea into their life, not yours.

You have to translate their ideas to your way of thinking to use them. You have to use their ideas to help you create your own ideas. Their ideas cannot be poured into your like water into a bucket.


Waiting for people to reply is a big burden. Scheduling meetings with people (even online) is a big hassle.

If someone is figuring out their ideas while talking to you, that's going to be a lot lower quality than if you read an edited, polished book. Let them take their time for years writing first and it'll save you some time.

What if they won't write or use another good format (like videos can be good)? Well, there's a lot of people. You aren't going to deal with them all. Focus on the best, most serious people – who are generally the type willing to put their ideas into a good format.

Try to deal with people in formats you can control. Fast forward, rewind, pause, skimming ahead, and the option to intensively work on something all day for a month straight are all great options to have. Interact on your schedule.

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By Elliot Temple, Dec 2015 | Join the discussion group, receive the newsletter, or send comments to

Acknowledgments: some ideas presented are modified from, or inspired by, ideas from Karl Popper, Ayn Rand, David Deutsch and William Godwin. Thank you!