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What Kind of Intellectual Are You?

Are you a serious intellectual? After you found out about Fallible Ideas, you can learn a lot about yourself from how you reacted.

First, did you read an important FI-related book during the next six months? If not, (and you’re age 15+,) you’re not very interested in FI. (For younger people, it’s less clear, and you may need to look at other forms of engagement to judge interest.)

For the sake of discussion, I’ll suppose the book you read is Atlas Shrugged (AS). There are lots of great books to choose from.

Did you read AS thoughtfully? Did you write down thoughts as you read? Can you remember thoughts you had about it well enough to write them down now?

Did you have questions about the book? What did you do to get them answered? If you had fewer than 100 questions about AS, you aren’t the kind of person who is going to get very far with FI. FI is for people who both want to know things and go seeking answers. You should do that without being told to.

Did you have followup questions after your questions? If you never asked 5+ questions in a row to keep getting more depth about an issue, you aren’t very interested in learning about it.

I know you’ve got excuses. You’re used to a world, such as school, where there’s no one to answer your questions, so you learned not to think of them or not to ask them. Well, so what? Who cares what your excuse is? For whatever reason, you are not suitable for serious learning now.

Can you change? It’s conceivable. But don’t expect it before it happens. Don’t count on it. Most people don’t change in big ways about reason. If you find that discouraging, rational thinking is not for you.


Your relationship with reason can be used for considering practical decisions. E.g. should you get married, if you want to, but you heard a rational argument criticizing it? The key question here is whether you can do better than tradition, or should live with a flawed tradition. In order to attempt to outdo a major societal tradition, you need to be really serious about rational thinking. It will take a ton of serious thought (from you and anyone else involved).

If you didn’t read a book within 6 months, or weren’t bubbling with questions about it, then you’re not going to do better than tradition about marriage. You aren’t wiser than your society. You aren’t suited for paving your own way in life. You aren’t a pioneering first-mover.


Elliot Temple on January 17, 2018

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