Thinking, Briefly

Some people want to know how I think. Others need to know so that they can politely go away agreeing to disagree rather than exhaust themselves learning why they should.

Inspired by Paul Graham’s Writing, Briefly I wrote this:

Thinking, briefly (part 1, version 1):

In no particular order: care about thinking well because if you care you’ll figure it out and if you don’t then it doesn’t matter; don’t quote others but make their thoughts and beliefs your own and live by them; make life-long friends to avoid loneliness; find your home where everyone has your back, especially those  who disagree with you; read lots of books early in life; practice thinking – it is a true sensual experience (don’t you think); watch your beliefs, they are more important than your thoughts because you are not thinking most of the time; become an adult before age 21 because if you aren’t and people expect you to be then things get unpleasant; become a producer rather than a consumer because producers think better for some reason (which you can figure out on your own if you try to produce a counterargument), don’t be evil – it messes with your head and the welfare of others; don’t lie; beware of the lie you believe because that is the one others believe; do or do not (there is no try); seek out good arguments with experienced thinkers – they are more memorable than smalltalk; try to be less ignorant today than yesterday; feelings aren’t facts; master the scientific method; experiment; suspect data; value evidence; pursue understanding; make wisdom a goal, but not the only one; value facts (not perceptions); have strong opinions but hold them weakly; be grateful and thank those who prove you wrong because then they will come back for more; writing is thinking on paper; be bilingual – master both mathematics and another natural language (such as English); just as programming is debugging, thinking is rethinking – it is where the game is won or lost; know yourself so that at a minimum you can write a warning for others so that they can avoid you rather than waste their time finding out why; don’t let your schooling interfere with your education; and when you start to feel exhausted, take a break.

(I spent less than 30 minutes on this. If you want to know how I can write fast, the only thing I did in those 30 minutes was make pre-thunk thoughts brief. Oh, plus the fact that I’ve probably spent upwards of 200 hours read and re-read Paul’s essay and practicing what he wrote until I began to develop different habits. Oh, yes, and the fact that ever since reading On Writing Well by Bill Zinsser, I’ve tried to do what he suggests.)

More later; when I get a spare half hour…

I value your feedback, but won’t value it in an email or a comment published at the bottom of this essay. People who spend emails expect quick responses whereas, given the fact that I’ve gone 66 years without writing Part 1, and writing Part 2 is very low on my ‘to do’ list, I might not ever get back to this. 

Instead, please annotate this using the open annotation tools you can learn to use at 

If the internet archive ( and do what they say they do, my words and your annotations will live long after I die of if someone fails to pay a bill and this website goes away.

All the best,



I value getting things done. Things get done better with collaborators. If you want to collaborate with me, then please answer the following questions when you write:

  1. Why? What is the point of asking me to collaborate with you?
  2. What might we accomplish together?
  3. Who will benefit?
  4. Read and tell me which of my values you don’t value or that I must not value for moral reasons. Also tell me which values of yours that I must honor if we are to work together.
  5. Read and – for the record – tell me which of these policies are deal breakers (i.e. are reasons you would never collaborate with me, so we won’t).
  6. If you’ve made it this far, read Everything else you’ve read about how I think, what I value and who I am is – at this late stage in my life – non-negotiable. If you need to negotiate something, then send me a counter-proposal.

More than collaborators on new projects, what I really want is company.

So, if you know someone who thinks clearly, writes well, and has fun getting things done then I’d value an introduction to them. Write to them and send them a link to this page and then if they read it and want to get in touch, then I sure hope they will write to me at Brooke @

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