(All quotes can be seen here; after three, the theme's full list can be seen via the highlighted title's link)


  • "The sailor cannot see the north / but knows the needle can."
  • "If you cannot decide, the answer is no."
  • "The hardest 'no' to identify is the one closest to a 'yes'."


  • "Schools trade curiosity for compliance."
  • "Social science means inventing a certain brand of human we can understand."
  • "The overeducated are worse off than the undereducated, having traded common sense for the illusion of knowledge."


  • “The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed.  You waste years by not being able to waste hours.”
  • “The difference between slaves in Roman and Ottoman days and today’s employees is that slaves did not need to flatter their boss.”


  • "The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them."
  • "The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right."
  • "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."


  • "Friendship is about emotional security."


  • "Not wanting something is as good as having it."
  • "Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want."
  • "Judge a goal by how well it changes your actions in the present moment."


  • "A fit body, a calm mind, a house full of love - these things cannot be bought, they must be earned."
  • "The first rule of handling conflict is: 'Don’t hang around people who are constantly engaging in conflict.'"
  • "When it comes to medicine and nutrition, subtract before you add."

Human nature:

  • “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”
  • "Self-awareness is the most attractive trait."
  • "The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart."


  • "Instead of role models, ask: who are my anti-models?"
  • "Rather than wondering what will make me happy, ask: what is certain to make me miserable?"
  • "It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”


  • "It isn't the learning that's so hard - it's the unlearning."
  • "A good book changes your mind; a great book changes your actions."
  • "Only the autodidacts are free."


  • "The modern devil is cheap dopamine."
  • "The things you own end up owning you."
  • “We are hunters; we are only truly alive in those moments when we improvise; no schedule, just small surprises and stimuli from the environment.”

Men and women:

  • "In the past, only some of the males, but all of the females, were able to procreate. Equality is more natural for females."
  • "The secret to a happy marriage is that spouses should not see each other before noon."


  • "The iron rule of nature is: you get what you reward for. If you want ants to come, you put sugar on the floor."
  • "The cosmos is also within us: we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”
  • “Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”


  • "The goal of media is to make every problem your problem."
  • “To be completely cured of newspapers, spend a year reading the previous week’s newspapers.”


  • "Play iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest."
  • “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”
  • “The more you know, the less you diversify.”


  • "The human psyche wants two things: it wants a fuller expression of its own possibilities, and it wants self-healing."
  • "The spirit of evil is negation of the life force by fear. Only boldness can deliver us from fear. And if the risk is not taken, the meaning of life is violated."
  • “The greatest burden a child must bear is the un-lived life of the parents.”


  • "To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance."
  • "You don’t become completely free by just avoiding to be a slave; you also need to avoid becoming a master."
  • "(T)he heroic summons — namely, to lift off the intimate other the unfinished business of my own life. This I call heroic because it asks me to assume a burden much larger than feels comfortable. It asks that we outgrow the dependent part that is covertly eager to have someone take care of us. So we seek, unconsciously, to convert our partners into the good parent, the one who takes the task of self-esteem, of personal accountability, the responsibility for meeting most of our own needs, off our shoulders."


  • "A 'bigoteer': someone who seeks to profit from calling other people bigots, whether it be sexist, racist, etc."
  • "Guilt is society programming you so effectively that you are your own warden."
  • “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”


  • "Contra to the prevailing belief, 'success' isn’t being on top of a hierarchy, it is standing outside all hierarchies."
  • "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything."
  • "In this lifetime, you don't have to prove nothin' to nobody except yourself."


  • "It seems to me that (the internal structure of independent-mindedness) has three components: fastidiousness about truth, resistance to being told what to think, and curiosity."


  • "Individuals search for truth, groups search for consensus."
  • "It’s easier to macro-bullshit than micro-bullshit."
  • "I realized something surprisingly profound: Everybody’s ideas seem obvious to them. I’ll bet even John Coltrane or Richard Feynman felt that everything they were playing or saying was pretty obvious. So maybe what’s obvious to me is amazing to someone else."


  • "People who live far below their means enjoy a freedom that people busy upgrading their lifestyles can't fathom."
  • "If somebody can tell you when to be at work, and what to wear and how to behave, you’re not a free person.  You’re not actually rich."
  • “You are rich if money you refuse tastes better than money you accept.”