“In general, I find that all people are insufficient to the experiences and demands of living; but that is also what makes us beautiful.” -Rachel Hamburg

Dedication to output explains modesty. From this view, arrogance doesn’t make sense. “Here’s what I respect: creating something meaningful and then presenting it to the world.” (Jordan Tice)

“The eighth virtue is humility. To be humble is to take specific actions in anticipation of your own errors. To confess your fallibility and then do nothing about it is not humble; it is boasting of your modesty. Who are most humble? Those who most skillfully prepare for the deepest and most catastrophic errors in their own beliefs and plans. Because this world contains many whose grasp of rationality is abysmal, beginning students of rationality win arguments and acquire an exaggerated view of their own abilities. But it is useless to be superior: Life is not graded on a curve. The best physicist in ancient Greece could not calculate the path of a falling apple. There is no guarantee that adequacy is possible given your hardest effort; therefore spare no thought for whether others are doing worse. If you compare yourself to others you will not see the biases that all humans share. To be human is to make ten thousand errors. No one in this world achieves perfection.”

We have to pay attention to the space between where we’re actually standing and where we want to be. With sufficient goals, this allows one to recognize the limitations of one’s abilities.

I recently found myself to be overconfident in being able to leverage rationality and effective data analysis to help the world in scalable ways. But I think I was confident in a good way because while I felt more powerful than my environment, my environment was favorable. Regardless, the degree of my confidence was irrational.

I find it helpful to overcome overconfidence through (1) being able to joke about being arrogant, (2) surround myself with the smartest people I can find, (3) recognizing the limitations of one’s abilities, (4) vulnerability+feedback, (5) and “ego smashing” (be creative).

Incapable, Overconfident, and The Absurd
Being incapable comes from a comparison of two things: a set of resources, and the problem that needs to be solved. For me, my resources mostly just include myself, and my problem was world poverty. When that comparison is a hopeless divide, does it become absurd?

”The feeling of absurdity does not spring from the mere scrutiny of a fact or an impression but that it bursts from the comparison between a bare fact and a certain reality, between an action and the world that transcends it. The absurd is essentially a divorce. It lies in neither of the elements compared; it is born of their confrontation” -Albert Camus

It was as if confidence could bridge the gap of world poverty and my limited resources. Alas, this is absurd. But if you can’t be ambitious in this part of the world, then where can you be? Absurdism in this sense can be useful, because it demands a bridge.


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