Tim Urban Quotes


Best 51 Quotes by Tim Urban – Page 1 of 2

“A human isn’t simply a perfect survival creature – it’s also just the right element of a perfect survival tribe.”

“An independent thinker, regardless of their viewpoint, is an active brain in the room, contributing something original to the system. A dogmatic who simply regurgitates the same viewpoints, without independent critical thought, contributes little.”

“Atheism isn’t a growth model any more than “I don’t like rollerblading” is a workout strategy.”

“Be humbler about what you know, more confident about what's possible, and less afraid of things that don't matter.”

“Gen-Ys are delusional; Most people are not special — otherwise 'special' wouldn’t mean anything.

Even right now, most of Gen-Ys reading this are thinking: "Good point. But I actually am one of the few special ones." — and this is the problem.”

“Here’s the crazy thing about humans — humans are smart enough that they know how insignificant they are. We are the only species on Earth that can conceive of either our own insignificance or our own death.

Indeed, I am a microscopic particle here for only a brief moment who knows that I am a microscopic particle here for only a brief moment.

A person is a speck of nothing who materializes for a split second, realizes where it stands in the scheme of time and space, understands that it will soon disappear back into nothingness for eternity, says “Wait, what the hell?”, and then disappears into nothingness for eternity.

A human appears out of nowhere — gets it — and then vanishes. And all of this begs the question:

If I know that I am the tiniest speck of dust around for a split second only, then why was I so upset when my fantasy football team lost on Sunday?”

“I’ve heard people compare knowledge of a topic to a tree. If you don’t fully get it, it’s like a tree in your head with no trunk — and without a trunk, when you learn something new about the topic — a new branch or leaf of the tree — there’s nothing for it to hang onto, so it just falls away.

By clearing out fog all the way to the bottom, I build a tree trunk in my head, and from then on, all new information can hold on, which makes that topic forever more interesting and productive to learn about.

And what I usually find is that so many of the topics I’ve pegged as 'boring' in my head are actually just foggy to me — like watching episode 17 of a great show, which would be boring if you didn’t have the tree trunk of the back story and characters in place.”

“If I know that I am the tiniest speck of dust around for a split second only, then why was I so upset when my fantasy football team lost on Sunday?”

“In today’s politics, if you forget that A) your perception of reality has probably been at least a little manipulated, and B) your opponents are behaving the way they are based on a perception of reality that’s different from your own — you’re bound to get things wrong.”

“It's crazy that with an iPhone, a little Starlink antenna, and a solar power unit, you could live in an isolated cave in the mountains (or on a raft in the middle of the Pacific) and get a world-class education, start a business or art career, and make friends all around the world.”

“Nintendo (founded 1889) and the Ottoman Empire coexisted (fell in 1922) for 33 years.”

“People are more interested in what you have to say if they think your thoughts come from a self-determined place, and they’ll begin to tune you out if they suspect you tend to just repeat what you heard from another source.”

“Purpose in general is for me to do something I have fun in doing. I want to be excited to wake up. I want to be excited to do my work. I want to feel like I'm playing when I'm doing my work.

I'm very curious so I want to feel like a constant learner. I like having great conversations with interesting people; I love creating; artistically creating; and it allows me to continually stay in excitable mode.”

“The most important kind of human communication happens when our brains send information to other brains through complex patterns of air pressure waves. Have you ever stopped and thought about how incredible that is?”

“The most important person to impress is yourself.”

“The news and online media portraying a society where everyone hates each other is dangerous because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

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“Our default is to believe that what we hear and read is true. Even when that information is clearly presented as being false, we are still likely to process it as true.”

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“We base our ideas about the world on our personal experience, and that experience has ingrained the rate of growth of the recent past in our heads as 'the way things happen'.

We're also limited by our imagination, which takes our experience and uses it to conjure future predictions — but often, what we know simply doesn't give us the tools to think accurately about the future.

When we hear a prediction about the future that contradicts our experience-based notion of 'how things work', our instinct is that the prediction must be naive.

If I tell you that you may live to be 150, or 250, or not die at all, your instinct will be: That's stupid — if there's one thing I know from history, it's that everybody dies."

And yes, no one in the past has not died. But no one flew airplanes before airplanes were invented either.”

“We’re a species that isn’t great at truth. We’re built to believe convenient delusions, not to be accurate.”

“What Hitler tried to do is essentially the same thing Alexander tried to do (though with more genocide), but it was so long ago that the tragic element of it carries no emotion today.

If Hitler had done his thing 2,400 years ago, we might know him as Hitler the Great today.”

How to Pick a Career Quotes

“Chasing happiness is an amateur move. Feeling contentment in those times when your choices and your circumstances have combined to pull it off, and knowing you have all that you could ever ask for, is for the wise.”

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“It’s when we feel too good that we run the risk of becoming overconfident, intellectually complacent, and set in our ways.

It’s exactly when we think we have life all figured out that we end up losing our way.”

How to Pick a Career

“My goal for the future isn’t to avoid mistakes, it’s for the mistakes I do make to be my own.”

How to Pick a Career

“The older I get, the clearer it becomes that our internal battle as the kindergarten teachers of our mind is like 97% of life’s struggle. The world is easy — you’re difficult.”

How to Pick a Career

Meet Your Ancestors (All of Them) Quotes

“3 million years ago, there were no humans. Our ancestors from that time were some hybrid of ape and human called Australopithecus.”

Meet Your Ancestors (All of Them)

“I read that when we hiccup, it’s a remnant of a prehistoric impulse in fish — when your body does something or feels something, it’s a window into your deep intertwined connection to all of these other species and to the history of life.”

Meet Your Ancestors (All of Them)

“Your genes have come a long way, have passed through trillions of other organisms, and have undergone an insane number of optimal mutations to finally arrive packaged up together in your chromosomes.

You are the way you are because of things that happened to that jellyfish, that lizard, that monkey and the way each of them adapted to their environment for billions of years.”

Meet Your Ancestors (All of Them)

“Your great great grandfather lived most of his life without running water or electricity, and he was probably more racist than you are. You’ve never met him, but without him, you wouldn’t exist.”

Meet Your Ancestors (All of Them)

The AI Revolution Quotes

“As far as we’re concerned, if an ASI comes to being, there is now an omnipotent God on Earth—and the all-important question for us is:
Will it be a nice God?”

The AI Revolution

“Bostrom and many others also believe that the most likely scenario is that the very first computer to reach ASI will immediately see a strategic benefit to being the world’s only ASI system.

And in the case of a fast takeoff, if it achieved ASI even just a few days before second place, it would be far enough ahead in intelligence to effectively and permanently suppress all competitors.

Bostrom calls this a decisive strategic advantage, which would allow the world’s first ASI to become what’s called a singleton — an ASI that can rule the world at its whim forever, whether its whim is to lead us to immortality, wipe us from existence, or turn the universe into endless paperclips.”

The AI Revolution

“What we do know is that humans’ utter dominance on this Earth suggests a clear rule: with intelligence comes power.

Which means an ASI, when we create it, will be the most powerful being in the history of life on Earth, and all living things, including humans, will be entirely at its whim—and this might happen in the next few decades.”

The AI Revolution

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“I am most often irritated by those who attack the bishop but somehow fall for the securities analyst – those who exercise their skepticism against religion but not against economists, social scientists, and phony statisticians.

Using the confirmation bias, these people will tell you that religion was horrible for mankind by counting deaths from the Inquisition and various religious wars. But they will not show you how many people were killed by nationalism, social science, and political theory under Stalin or during the Vietnam War.

Even priests don't go to bishops when they feel ill: their first stop is the doctor's. But we stop by the offices of many pseudoscientists and 'experts' without alternative. We no longer believe in papal infallibility; we seem to believe in the infallibility of the Nobel, though...”

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