The Up Side of Down, by Megan McArdle

The book’s lesson is that we can’t engineer away failure and indeed that we shouldn’t. Instead, we ought to embrace it intelligently, because failure is the only way that we really learn.

I wrote about some of the main stories for the Shopify blog.

There are lots of good quotes. Here are a few:

There is a famous story of a rich old man being interviewed by a young striver, who asks him for the secret of his success. “Good judgment,” says the magnate.
His eager young follower dutifully scribbles this down, then looks at him expectantly. “And how do you get good judgment?”
“Experience!” says our terse tycoon.
“And how do you get experience?”
“Bad judgment!”

When people try to explain why the Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world, they talk about her mysterious smile, the gauzy technique, the background. And yet Watts points out that they are not really explaining the painting’s appeal; they are just describing the painting.

In Deep Survival, a stunning book about how people survive in extreme terrain, Laurence Gonzales about a phenomenon known in orienteering as “bending the map.” It’s summed up with a pithy quote from Edward Cornell: “Whenever you start looking at your map and saying something like, ‘Well, that lake could have dried up’ or, ‘That boulder could have moved,’ a red light should go on.”

Groups are capable of much more stupid behavior than individuals are. They frequently fall prey to what I’ve taken to calling “groupidity”: doing something stupid because other people around you seem to think it’s safe.

Continue reading