Tim Urban || Climbing the Thinking Ladder
Today we welcome Tim Urban. He is the writer and illustrator of the blog Wait But Why, which he co-founded with Andrew Finn in 2013. With wry stick-figure illustrations and occasionally epic prose, Wait But Why has garnered millions of unique page views, thousands of patrons and famous fans like Elon Musk. His long-form blog covers a range of subjects including artificial intelligence, outer space, and procrastination. Tim earned his A.B. from Harvard University, graduating cum laude with a major in Government.
In this episode, I talk to Tim Urban about the complex relationship between identity and critical thinking. Tim cautions against blind loyalty to specific ideologies for it can lead to an echo chamber of tribal minds. Instead of dogmatic maxims, he suggests we uphold basic core principles that guide our thoughts and behavior. In this way, Tim believes we engage in high rung thinking all the while cultivating “idea labs” within our culture. We also touch on the topics of dating, education, politics, writing, morality, and tech.
02:21 Intellectual ADHD
06:14 Detached truth seeking
08:40 Pitfalls of low rung thinking
16:15 Tim’s upbringing and education
21:01 Dating is kind of like Grand Theft Auto
37:50 “Your ego is a backpack”
44:35 The world needs your spaghetti brain
51:38 Idea labs and echo chambers
57:42 The spectrum of opposing views
1:01:13 Repressing science for ideology
1:09:24 Life, death, and cryonics
1:25:05 Learning in analogies and metaphors
1:29:44 Evaluating high quality ideas
1:36:23 Choosing what to read
1:39:35 Tim’s life altering idea
1:42:28 Mars, capitalism, neurolinks
1:47:02 Lightning round
1:53:07 But why wait?