…It’s also why exhortations to imagine the audience in the nude don’t help nervous speakers; naked lions are just as dangerous as elegantly dressed ones.
Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.
The discovery I made on that day was that the flight instructors were trapped in an unfortunate contingency: because they punished cadets when performance was poor, they were mostly rewarded by a subsequent improvement, even if punishment was actually ineffective. Furthermore, the instructors were not alone in that predicament. I had stumbled onto a significant fact of the human condition: the feedback to which life exposes us is perverse. Because we tend to be nice to other people when they please us and nasty when they do not, we are statistically punished for being nice and rewarded for being nasty.
There are some very agreeable and beautiful talents, of which the possession commands a certain sort of admiration, but of which the exercise, for the sake of gain, is considered, whether from reason or prejudice, as a sort of public prostitution. … The exorbitant rewards of players, opera-singers, opera-dancers, etc. are founded upon those two principles; the rarity and beauty of the talents, and the discredit of employing them in this manner.
Usually it seems to the recipient of a truly artistic impression that he knew the thing before but had been unable to express it.
He came walking through the thunderstorm and you could tell he was a wizard, partly because of the long cloak and carven staff but mainly because the raindrops were stopping several feet from his head, and steaming.
He knew from experience that the living never found out half of what was really happening, because they were too busy being the living. The onlooker sees most of the game, he told himself.
It was the living who ignored the strange and wonderful, because life was too full of the boring and mundane.
The social scientists have a long way to go to catch up, but they may be up to the most important scientific business of all, if and when they finally get down to the right questions. Our behavior toward each other is the strangest, most unpredictable, and almost entirely unaccountable of all the phenomena with which we are obliged to live.
“Making Science Work”
What we ultimately want is for solidity to vanish, to dissolve, to disintegrate into some totally different kind of phenomenon with which we have no experience. Only then, when we have reached some completely novel, alien level will we feel that we have really made progress in explaining the top-level phenomenon.
No explanation of macroscopic X-ness can get away with saying that it is a result of microscopic X-ness.
This is the essence of intuitive heuristics: when faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution.