Stay open-minded to extreme ideas

Imagine you hear a presentation from a world-class nuclear physicist. Let’s say they are 100 knowledge steps ahead of you in nuclear physics. Given this difference between what you know and what they know, of course nothing they say makes sense to you. 

If the nuclear physicist is also a great teacher, they can walk you through some of those steps - say, get you up to step 20 in the span of a presentation. And if the physicist seems sensible and right about the first 20 steps that we can comprehend, we often trust them to be right with the other 80 that go way beyond our understanding.

Let’s apply the same logic beyond physics. Imagine someone has studied and reflected and pondered on life, happiness, philosophy etc for years. Let’s say they have spent 100x more time thinking about these things than you have. As a result, they live a life that seems extreme and ridiculous to you - something you’d see in a documentary.

It would be easy to dismiss this person as a lunatic and move on. But what if they have a point? What if we didn’t dismiss their ideas and lifestyle? Let’s say this person who lives an extreme life could sensibly walk you through 20 steps, and you agree with them on those 20 steps. Even if the rest of their ideas seem absurd to you, why couldn't they be right about those too?

Stay open-minded to extreme ideas, especially if they come from sensible people. Instead of dismissing them, lean in and try to understand why this seemingly smart and sensible person, who you agreed with for 20 steps, suddenly proposes crazy ideas or leads a crazy life.

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