People often don't really know if they're conventional thinkers or independent thinkers.

  • Independent ones think they're conventional because they're unaware of how most people think.  
  • Whereas Conventional ones think they're independent but they coincidently have the same beliefs as everyone.

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How to Think for Yourself

paulgraham.com

When you're young, it's super important for you to consider which type of work you wanna be doing.

Because you can either be independent-minded or conventional minded. And it, more or less, depends on birth.

People who are naturally Independent Minded will find tasks, that require only being correct, frustrating. 

Similarly, naturally Conventional Minded people find tasks, that require thinking different, frustrating.

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To be more independent-minded, you've to not know what most others think.

Because if you don't know what most others think, you cannot blindly follow their beliefs and hence you will have to be independent-minded.  

But a conventional minded person will probably feel anxious about not knowing the conventions.

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Independent mindedness is largely inborn, but you can still magnify it in yourself. 

Or at least, prevent yourself from diminishing it. 

There are 3 ways:

  1. Be less aware of the conventions 
  2. Surround yourself with Independent-minded people 
  3. Don't let any belief enter your mind unexamined

We'll go into details.

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To be more independent-minded, be sceptical.

When someone says something to you, ask yourself "is that true?"  

You'll find "yes" is not always an answer.  

Some of what most people believe in will be proved false in the future, see if you can guess which ones.

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To be more independent-minded, surround yourself with Independent thinkers 

If you be with conventional thinkers, you won't be able to freely express your novel ideas.  

Whereas around independent thinkers, you'll find people sharing and appreciating their ideas. This will encourage you to do the same.

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 Fastidiousness about Truth means being careful about the degree to which you believe in something  

Conventional thinkers often think if something is probable, it is certain.

And if something is unlikely, it's impossible.

But Independent thinkers don't believe anything, about any topic they care about, until they've carefully verified it.

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Don't let anybody tell you your novel ideas are almost like practical jokes.  

All mainstream ideas of today were "stupid" back in the day.  

Like letting strangers sleep in your house. (AirBnB)

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It's all about these 3 things:

  • Fastidiousness about the Truth 
  • Resistance to being told what to think about
  • Curiosity

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There's a definite correlation between having a sense of humour and being independent-minded.   

And there is also a correlation between being humourless and thinking conventionally.

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Briefly, all novel ideas come from curiosity.  

That's how people feel before finding them.  

Independent mindedness and curiosity can predict each other.  

(Except in children, because all children are curious.)

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  • Avoid situations that suppress curiosity. 
  • You cannot be curious about everything. So find those few things you care about.
  • Indulge in it. Investigate what you're curious about. Questions will lead to more questions.

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  • Fastidiousness about truth and resistance to being told what to think leave space in your brain
  • And curiosity finds new ideas to fill it.

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  1. The one where you have to be "Independent Minded", that is, you've to be correct AND novel (think differently). Like startup founders, investors.  
  2. And the one where you have to be Conventional Minded, that is, you only have to be correct. Like managers and administrators

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