Tim Urban Quotes

Born November 12, 1981

Who the Heck is Tim Urban?

Tim Urban is a blogger and TEDx speaker known for his long and profound posts on the website Wait But Why?

Books by Tim Urban

Best Quotes by Tim Urban

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

Tim Urban
Meet Your Ancestors (All of Them)

“According to Rutgers anthropology professor Robin Fox, 80% of all marriages in history have been between second cousins or closer.

The reason for this is that for most of human history, people spent most of their lives in the same five mile radius, and the other people in that same area tended to be immediate and extended family. To get away from their extended family when courting, men would have to walk over five miles away, which after a long day of hunting you just don’t feel like doing.”

Tim Urban
Your Family: Past, Present, and Future

“Almost nothing you’re socially scared of is actually scary.”

Tim Urban
Wait But Why Year One

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

Tim Urban

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

Tim Urban

“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.”

Tim Urban

“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.”

Tim Urban

“Humility is by definition a starting point—and it sends you off on a journey from there. The arrogance of certainty is both a starting point and an ending point—no journeys needed.”

Tim Urban
The Elon Musk Blog Series

“I don’t know you, but I can almost guarantee that you don’t ask your grandparents (or older parents) enough questions about their lives and the lives of their parents. We’re all incredibly self-absorbed, and in being so, we forget to care about the context of the lives we’re so immersed in. We can use Google to learn anything we want about world history and our country’s history, but our own personal history — which we really should know quite well — can only be accessed by asking questions.”

Tim Urban
Your Family: Past, Present, and Future

“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.”

Tim Urban
Meet Your Ancestors (All of Them)

“I think generally people’s thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experiences. It’s rare that people try to think of something on a first principles basis. They’ll say, “We’ll do that because it’s always been done that way.” Or they’ll not do it because “Well, nobody’s ever done that, so it must not be good.” But that’s just a ridiculous way to think. You have to build up the reasoning from the ground up—“from the first principles”.”

Tim Urban
The Elon Musk Blog Series

“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?”

Tim Urban

“In 150 years, all 7,100,000,000 people alive today will be dead, but all of our genes will be doing just fine, living in other people.”

Tim Urban
Your Family: Past, Present, and Future

“Insecurity can be solved the hard way or the easy way—and by giving people the easy option, dogmatic tribes remove the pressure to do the hard work of evolving into a more independent person with a more internally-defined identity.”

Tim Urban
The Elon Musk Blog Series

“Instead of a blank canvas, school hands kids a coloring book and tells them to stay within the lines.”

Tim Urban
The Elon Musk Blog Series

“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, & make friends all around the world.”

Tim Urban

“Learning, for Elon Musk, is simply the process of downloading data and algorithms into your brain. Among his many frustrations with formal classroom learning is the ridiculously slow download speed of sitting in a classroom while a teacher explains something, and to this day, most of what he knows he’s learned through reading.”

Tim Urban
The Elon Musk Blog Series

“Over time, big industries tend to get flabby and uncreative and risk-averse—and if the right outsider company has the means and creativity to come at the industry with a fresh perspective and rethink the whole thing, there’s often a huge opportunity there.”

Tim Urban
The Elon Musk Blog Series

“The last 200 years of your ancestry, contain 127 romantic relationships, each involving at least one critical sex moment and most of them probably involving deep love. You’re the product of 127 romances, just in the last 200 years alone.”

Tim Urban
Your Family: Past, Present, and Future

“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.”

Tim Urban
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.”

Tim Urban
Meet Your Ancestors (All of Them)