I spent last weekend at the Effective Altruism Summit. I have a bunch of blog posts I want to write about it, but first here’s a very quick reaction to Peter Thiel’s keynote address.
Peter Thiel has this idea of conventions, secrets, and mysteries. These class notes from a class Thiel taught at Stanford explain the concept well:
How hard it is to obtain the truth is a key factor to consider when thinking about secrets. Easy truths are simply accepted conventions. Pretty much everybody knows them. On the other side of the spectrum are things that are impossible to figure out. These are mysteries, not secrets. Take superstring theory in physics, for instance. You can’t really design experiments to test it. The big criticism is that no one could ever actually figure it out. But is it just really hard? Or is it a fool’s errand? This distinction is important. Intermediate, difficult things are at least possible. Impossible things are not. Knowing the difference is the difference between pursuing lucrative ventures and guaranteed failure.