To build something great, you need a secret: a hard to discover, unpopular, and correct belief. It has to be hard but not impossible, because then it’s a mystery (what happens when we approach a black hole? what happens after death?). Not easy because then many people can find it, and it’s not a secret anymore.
A lot of people today act as if there are no more secrets to be discovered. If everything worth doing has already been done, you throw in the towel, feign an allergy to achievement, and become a barista.
Fundamentalists think that there are easy truths that everyone knows, and the mysteries of God/the universe. The hard truths in between are heretic.
Why did people lose the wonder of secrets?
- Most of geographical exploration is finished. There are no blank spaces on the map left anymore.
- Incrementalism: Most social environments reinforce the idea that the right way to do things is one step at a time. If you overachieve, you don’t earn credit. If you do exactly what is asked of you, you get an A. If you publish a lot of papers (instead of discovering new science), you will get tenure track.
- Risk aversion: Being wrong is hard and annoying. If you are looking for secrets, it’s a lonely road since, by definition, you’re looking for something that most people don’t believe in. Believing in the wrong secret can be soul crashing: you’ll be wrong and lonely.
- Complacency: The welcoming message of most elite education institutions is something along the lines of “You managed to get in here, and you can now chill. You are set for life.”
- The world has become flat: Globalization increased competition to a level where it is discouraging to try
As a result, very few people take unorthodox ideas seriously today. As a cost for having less cults and conspiracy theories, we have given up our sense of wonder at secrets left to be discovered.
- What secrets is nature not telling you?
- What secrets are people not telling you?
- Look where no one else is looking
- are there any fields that matter but haven’t been standardized and institutionalized? Example: nutrition. Most research is old, and paid by companies to promote certain agendas.
You should keep secrets to yourself, and the few people who need to know. Unconventional beliefs are often crucified and shamed. A great company is a conspiracy to change the world, and everyone involved is a fellow conspirator.
- Zero to One, Peter Thiel