Schemes & Scams

August 4, 2010 — 59 Comments

During recessions there is almost always a rise in the reports of scams. People get sucked into get-rich-quick schemes and fall for outright cons. Sometimes it’s greed or laziness, and sometimes it’s more complicated. But it’s generally motivated by a sense of just not.knowing.what.to.do

It’s really easy to assume this only happens to dumb people. The reality is that we fall for scams all the time, they differ only in name. And there are so many…

-Your ‘start-up‘ is a scam. Especially yours, you, the self-described “entrepreneur.”
-Reading Malcolm Gladwell articles is a scam
-Traveling is a scam.
-These colleges are a scam. Grad school is a scam.
-Ebooks are scams. Reading and writing.
-Productivity blogs are a scam.
-Blogging is a scam.
-Adwords/SEO/Passive income/Multi-level marketing businesses are a scam. Wait, sorry, they are pyramid schemes.
-Umair is a scam.

What I mean to see is that they are mostly bullshit. Promises we’ve been sold that simply cannot and will not deliver. Scams exploit the special confidence we place in our own judgment but have never actually earned. The critical ingredient is that a victim thinks they’ve found a loophole or advantage that the rest of the world missed. Because it’s this little confirmation of their sense of superiority that carries them over any doubts or objections. (Which is why you got all indignant when I called your start-up a scam)

One of the last steps in a con is called the “cool off” and it’s how an insiderman pacifies the mark after he’s been fleeced. For instance, they might arrange to be raided by a fake cop and let the mark flee thinking he is narrowly avoiding arrest. Or they might tear up the check as a token of their honesty, only to find later it was a duplicate and the original had already been cashed. The point is that a truly masterful conman never lets the gaffe know that he’s a victim. In fact, the idea is to part ways with them thinking they’ve walked away on top.

Of course, this is also key of so many of the scams above. What’s bold about them though is that most don’t even bother with the pretense of a specific payoff or an explicit promise. Who do you even hold accountable? The reward is so vague – “we’re creating thick value” – that you’ll never know you’ve been fucked. And you’ll never have anything to hold up as proof that you were besides the uneasy feeling that you were sold a bill of goods that wasn’t quite right.

The most disappointing part of internet has been watching young people breathlessly “discover” the same scams and charlatans that have always existed and convince themselves they are a revolutionary. It’s like a rookie reporter congratulating themselves for writing a trend piece that they’re too self-absorbed and young to know gets written every single year.

We should wonder why instead of getting more cynical, we’ve become wide-eyed optimists. Stop pretending its a “transition.” It is a CONTRACTION. Things are going away that will never come back. You will not own a house. You will not get Social Security. You will not get health insurance. Not the way your parents did, at least. Sure, the technology lowers barriers to entry in many ways, but they are much much higher in the ways that matter most.

A generation that’s been coddled and then suddenly kicked in the stomach should question what it finds attractive. At least believing that you won the Nigerian lottery has a naive innocence; it’s refreshingly free of the pathetic entitlement in living with your parents while you’re ‘building your personal brand.’ Now is not the time to travel or weigh your options but to get serious and acknowledge the magnitude of the disaster we woke up into and are stuck with.

Resist the temptation of get-rich-quick schemes. There is no easy way. Avoid what makes you feel like you’re onto something that makes you smarter than everyone else (see: Gladwell articles). That’s what the bait tastes like.

Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

59 responses to Schemes & Scams

  1. I used to share that view.
    The article kind of makes me feel dirty, but my startup idea simply makes sense!

  2. what about QVC? aren’t the hosts of the shows really sales-people? They sound like they are sincere, but there is an undercurrent of falsity in what they say. I cringe everytime I see these shows.

  3. On the other hand, staying at home and doing nothing because it might not be real is a scam as well. Few things teach as well as experience so this may just be the price of wisdom in 2040. Many people had to pay the price to make “snake oil” a recognized term. Of course I’ll give more weight to my business advisory group with 14 successful people who just do things without worrying about the latest psychology research than an “SEO entrepreneur” who went to the trouble of buying a domain name, but I’ve found good and bad on both sides (or maybe I’m just inexperienced and I’ll learn the hard way). There are no big shortcuts but wisdom doesn’t lie in repeating every mistake so you can call it your own.

    - an entrepreneur but not in a startup

  4. My blood pressure goes up every time I read the word “Umair” so thank you for starting my day off with a bang..

  5. Ryan, I don’t know diddly squat about what you do in your free time, or if you like to travel, or how much you get paid. But have you ever had the deep realization that all of the things you are advocating might be rationalizations for your own inabilities to do those things? Again, I don’t know, or suppose, how much you get paid or how you live your life, but when you come down on people who are living “larger” than you, travelling more than you, exploring more than you, how can the humble reader ensure that this your opposition to them is based on facts and not on your own personal life situation? By the way, I’m ALL for what you are espousing, and everyone will come to realize it sooner or later. But dude – how many countries have you visited that make you an expert on the futility of travel? Is it because you can’t afford a house that everyone else automatically won’t? Please explain how you view this. I am not asking for a pointed defense on your earning capabilities here, just asking if you have considered whether or not your own personal situation may have colored some of your insights regarding the material life. I don’t care one way or the other, but if you’re all about clarity, it wouldn’t hurt clarifying this before launching an attack on things that still hold value. Perhaps not to you, but to countless others.

    • Someone always has to attack the straw man. Why do you idiots always have to confuse the issue by making it personal? I wish Obama would confiscate your fucking computers.
      “By the way, I’m ALL for what you are espousing, and everyone will come to realize it sooner or later.” So you’re in rational agreement, both for yourself and the rest of us? Then what’s with the ad hominem, humble reader?

  6. And one other thing. You have ruthlessly attacked and pilloried several entrepreneurs over the years. You have to look at yourself and ask why. This hatred and attack comes from you, an EMPLOYEE. It’s okay, I’m an employee too. But attacking anything that just happens to not be within your grasp is starting to look like a pattern, and this should give you cause for worry. Lest your readers think that your vitriol comes purely from an objective place.

    • What, pray tell, comes from “a purely objective place?” I’m beginning to see a “pattern” in what makes up blog readers, groupies, and followers in general: They’re desperate for the consequence of their approval, or lack thereof, e.g. “It’s okay, I’m an employee too.”

  7. I think you’d be hard pressed to find one ACTUAL entrepreneur I’ve attacked.

    • I don’t understand why you must attack people in the first place. It’s as Aurelius says: Instruct or endure them. Attacking is just a form of anger. Something to avoid. Also not good if you want to be likable…

      • Marcus Aurelius is not a prophet, Ben, so his words can’t be pushed up as laws or rules. Identifying scams and charlatans means thinking and considering perspectives that don’t jump out as obvious to us at first. The idea is that we put these things forward to (hopefully) shake people from their misperceptions and in turn to prevent them from taking hold in ourselves.

        • I understand now. I guess having an automate business or muse is one thing. Touting it as an accomplishment is another. Or listin traveling as an accomplishment.

          With grad school, youcould be self educating for a fraction of the cost and contributing to the world at the same time by working. I’m assuming you’d regard med school as not a scam tho.

  8. Great post, but Megalo has a point…. have you ever left north america for any kind of extended period of time?

    I like Emerson’s point about trying to run away from yourself, but spending time in another country can be a profound experience. It really shows you how much who you are is a result of your environment.

    • “A profound experience,” as in a personal one? Have you ever tried opium? Save your China fair, it will buy you more opium, I know a charming little den on the upper west.

  9. Of course I have.

    But look, if you have to travel to understand that you’re a product of your environment, you’ve got much deeper systemic issues than a few weeks taking the train in Europe can possibly fix.

    And actually, Emerson’s point is that the cult of travel-as-a-religious-experience is an absurd, bankrupt notion. The cities you’re traveling to see were built by people who sat down and worked instead of flittering around the way that only rich white kids seem to want to do. It doesn’t solve any of your problems because ultimately YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

    Travel can be a fun, inspiring and productive experience. But it is not an end in and of itself and its certainly nothing to mark down as an accomplishment (because you didn’t fucking do anything)

    • “The cities you’re traveling to see were built by people who sat down and worked.” –Ryan Holiday

      Oh, the sweet, sweet irony; not unlike being schooled on the inauthentic nature of travel mongering by man named, “Holiday.”

  10. I read this at the beginning of my day and it freaked me out because I let myself trust some of that bullshit in my own life. I think you’re right that it all starts with not knowing what to do and it’s something I’ve been grappling with lately. Most people I know, myself included, are taking easy options with fast results instead of asking hard questions that might take longer to answer or achieve.

    Thanks for posting this. It helped me out.

  11. You have a point. I spent the month after I graduated college on an RV trip around the country with a few friends. Was it a lot of fun? Hell yes. And did we accumulate a lot of great stories, and get to experience a bunch of new places? Of course. But I’m not a profoundly different person in the aftermath. I’m just a person who now knows what it’s like to hang out in Boston, New Orleans, Austin, and San Diego.

  12. What would you make of something like the 4 Hour Work Week and its work smart not hard mantra?

    • Tim Ferris cuts corners, and fat. He’s also providing the service of NEWS FLASH: Games are made to be beaten! You like that headline? Catchy, isn’t it?
      Buy my book, I’ll tell you what I know. Consider it for-profit education.

  13. I’d have no problem with it. I’d just question why a 20 year who has never had a real job or any real responsibilities who thought the words applied to him.

  14. Bullshit Arbitrage Thinking is what I call it.

    And it’s everywhere because people believe in tricks and want to.

    My clients want to spend $600 on a website that generates $1,000 weekly, workless checks.

    And I’ve been guilty of the thinking. Part of the time, it works. Being a huckster is a profitable path, I’ve done it. I’ve also done things I’m ashamed of and let down real people trying to run real businesses.

  15. Eddy: I get worried every time I see people use that quote. I’m not saying you’re this way, but I get the feeling a lot of people use it to justify inactivity. From the book: “Inactivity is not the goal. Doing that which excites you is.” Now I don’t know Tim personally, but as a regular follower of his it looks to me like he works exceptionally hard, just at the things that he finds exciting.

  16. Chris, your flatbizrate site has an Alexa rank of 6 million and its the like 40th one I’ve seen you post as a link here. You’re not making anyone $1,000 a week. You should question why you can’t even drop the schtick here, where it wasn’t solicited and no one knows who you are.

  17. You’re damn right nobody’s making $1,000 a week off of flat rate or any other half ass blog. That was my point. People get testy when they hear it’s unlikely.

  18. Zachary Gottlieb August 7, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Ryan, I appreciate your message, but your post was subtractive to the point of seeming to have little utility to me (and I find this with many of your posts, yet I enjoy reading them as a healthy counterbalance to my own way of thinking.) What I’m driving at is this question: “So what the hell am I supposed to do?”

    I – as I’m sure many of your readers are – am guilty of several of the societal “vices” that you tend to rail against, but at least part of the reason for that is that I derive pleasure from my regular indulgence in “narrative fallacies” or in reading popular science articles. Is it “empty” pleasure? Assuming it is, for argument’s sake; well then why is that so much worse than striving instead to cultivate “responsibility, hard work and a constant acknowledgement of reality” that seem to yield little pleasure at all? Or to be exact, they don’t yield the kind of pleasure that I prefer to experience (and I have had a good dose of all of them in my life.) By no means do I intend to discount such qualities as useless – in fact, I am almost certain that they are AS important as the rest in the pursuit of a happy existence – but I find that your posts tend to recommend them to the exclusion of most everything else, which leaves everyone on the other side of the fence (and surely you wanted some of us to be reading, lest your own blog be accused of being masturbatory…) with little option but to throw our arms up and exclaim, again, “What the hell am I supposed to do?”

    IS it better to be an unhappy Socrates than a pig in muck? I don’t think there is, or ought to be, an obvious answer to that. It seems like you have found your answer, but there are no external arguments to be able to persuade others of the ultimate “correctness” of that path.

    • Fuck, Ryan, can you believe these BS comments? I just found your blog today and I feel like I just walked in on a dead carcass covered in flies. My morbid curiosity wants to know the COD, but I can’t stop trying to cut corks to fit the flies assholes. Fucking maggots.

  19. “Blogging is a scam”

    -What exactly are you writing then?

  20. Zach, if you need posts to tell you to indulge your impulses and do pleasurable things, you may want to check if you were born with the same body, with the same inclinations, in the same society as the rest of us. Those are the defaults. I’m simply writing how we can – or I’ve tried – to prevent them from taking over. You’re kidding yourself if you think the burden is on me to explain why acknowledging reality on a regular basis is preferable to living in fantasies – what you’ve admitted to be false fantasies – of grandeur.

    Maybe we read different Plato but I think the idea was that Socrates was happier than everyone else. He was free, he understood truth and he never got too full of himself. These are good things. They are pleasures as well.

  21. I understand that they are also pleasures, but they are of an entirely different order to what may be termed more sensual – or easy – pleasures, and I think that the truly happy life comprises a healthy mix of both.

    Of course I don’t need blogs to guide me in my indulgence of the latter. My point was merely that I find some of your prose to be fueled by the kind of invective that suggests an anger towards those who engage in the “lower” pleasures rather than an acceptance that such forms of contentment are, as you say, “the defaults,” and as such are an inescapable part of our nature.

    Obviously that doesn’t imply that we should indulge them with complete abandon, but I think that without first acknowledging their very real value to us, it is much harder be weaned – or to wean anyone – off the sweet stuff and on to the acceptance of the brutally real.

    Does such an acceptance really make one happy? Having the curtain pulled back on our self-delusions – or allowing ourselves to be guided by reason alone – does yield a certain satisfaction: But there is no reason to presume that it is of an inherently better, or more enduring, nature than that yielded by the lies we create for ourselves.

    I think that Stoicism is an incredibly useful tool for the pursuit of a happy life, but I feel that employing it to the exclusion of all other ways of being or acting is to miss an essential facet of what it means to be human.

  22. Read over your comment again really slowly and stop for a second on words like lies, self-delusions, easy, inescapable and so on. Is this really what you’re arguing for? What are you trying to get me to seriously consider?

    I don’t mean to be dismissive but it almost sounds like a joke.

  23. Yeah, I can see that my words aren’t really speaking to you, which I think is a shame (and I don’t mean that to sound high and mighty in the least). Of course I’m not arguing FOR self-deception and the easy path – I’m just saying that life should also not be a Dickensian nightmare of austerity and privation, where the traditional constituents of “the good life” are in some way seen as evil and to be avoided at all costs. Awareness of when one is over-indulging is what is required, but absolute avoidance should be discouraged, since it leads to the creation of automata, and a denial of some perfectly valid sources of human pleasure. It seems to me that such abstention is what you are advocating; or at least, that’s how your posts strike me. Perhaps I’ve read them wrongly. Either way, I still enjoy reading them, because their uncompromising tone is the perfect antidote to some of my more decadent behavior; but as a life-dogma, if you will, I think Stoicism falls short of the mark.

    What I’m trying to get you to take seriously is the rather simple idea that for most people on earth, ultimate truth is NOT the path to ultimate happiness. That isn’t a joke – it’s just an intuition.

  24. “I’d just question why a 20 year who has never had a real job or any real responsibilities who thought the words applied to him.”

    Aren’t you a 21 year old who has never had a real job or any real responsibilities? On what basis are you any different from any of the people you’re so critical of?

    What is it that you do all day? Do you realize how absurd the idea of a 21 year old doling out advice about “happiness” is?

  25. I wish. I wish.

  26. People respond to and are deceived by the same things they were a hundred years ago.

    - Ricky Jay

  27. “But look, if you have to travel to understand that you’re a product of your environment, you’ve got much deeper systemic issues than a few weeks taking the train in Europe can possibly fix. ”

    How is ‘a few weeks’ an extended period of time? You need at least a couple of months to experience life in an alien environment. You should work there or study there. Anything less and you’re just an observer, a tourist.

  28. Yes, because study abroad programs are known for their rigorous academics

  29. Zachary Gottlieb August 10, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Whatever Franky meant, I think secluding oneself in an ivory tower would be an awful way to embed yourself in an alien environment. As for doing some part-time work or studying some aspect local culture for a few months… I think there’s a lot to be gained from that. I do also see what Emerson is getting at – as before, I think it’s just a question of striking the right balance.

  30. Has it been pointed out yet that Emerson travelled extensively? He first toured his own country on a lecture series, and then for 2 years he toured England, Scotland, and Ireland.

  31. Can you think of any differences between Emerson’s personal travels and the cult of “I’m going to backpack through Europe for my senior trip” that we’re talking about?

    That is what he’s talking about, btw, when he says this: “I have no churlish objection to the circumnavigation of the globe, for the purposes of art, of study, and benevolence, so that the man is first domesticated, or does not go abroad with the hope of finding somewhat greater than he knows. He who travels to be amused, or to get somewhat which he does not carry, travels away from himself, and grows old even in youth among old things.”

    • I definitely can think of the many differences between Emerson’s travels and senior trips to Europe, but since your list said “Traveling is a scam” and not “Backpacking Through Europe For Your Senior Trip is a scam,” it makes sense to point out Emerson travelled. A lot.

      Traveling was hyperlinked on your list, of course, which takes you to Emerson’s point…which is a damn good one, but different than ‘traveling is a scam’. That is, it’s not the thing in itself which is a scam (start ups, traveling, grad schools, ebooks, blogs, or even Gladwell books), but the reason why do you the thing that can be silly, ignorant, or foolish.

  32. @Casey, the hyperlink is essential to understanding the point. That’s why it’s there. If Ryan meant to say “Traveling is a scam” and be done with it, there would be no link.

    Everyone who feels uncomfortable about the things pointed out in this post should take a deep breath and read it again before clamming up and posting a comment that, from a reader’s point of view, comes from a place of visceral and unthinking fear. It’s a focused post on a narrow topic–and nobody’s yet provided a coherent point of contention. This isn’t a post about lofty ideals or “stoic privation” at all–it’s about being self-aware enough to recognize the shysters and swindlers that surround us.

    Also, for the knit-pickers: “blog” != producing content.
    And since, as a blind person, you could technically call what I read most often “ebooks”, it should go without saying that the scams are the ones published and steeped in bullshit. Thinking about it, I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that didn’t have a bound paper copy somewhere in the world.

    • Andrew, my point was that the linked Emerson passage conflicts with Ryan’s absolutist claim (i.e. ‘traveling is a scam’) as opposed to expounding it, especially in light of the fact that Emerson himself travelled a lot and travelled fruitfully.

      In other words, traveling isn’t a scam simply because fools travel for foolish reasons.

      • He’s not making absolutist claims. Is that the literal language? Yes. Is that the intent? Definitely not, anyone who has read some of his posts should know that. I don’t think he should be trying to add qualifiers to each one. You gain more out of it if you look at the statements, then decide as a person what qualifiers you think apply. The thoughts stay with you more when you’re forced to make the mental connections.

        The person whose start-up is a scam is someone like the guy he called out before who had a picture of him with Warren Buffet, that guy living in Thailand who got all pissy in the comments.

        Any person you hear speaking in bullshit jargon about what they do. If your start-up creates software that’s meant to help disabled programmers, and you are currently working with computer science professors at various universities, then no it’s not a scam. You have tangible output, you are doing something real. If your start-up is some sort of video game themed bar like The Mana Bar in Australia, it’s not a scam. Again, something that has tangible purpose and output.

        The point of this, and to me of most of what he writes, is to focus on things that are real. Pay attention to things that are actually relevant, spent your time doing something that serves a purpose beyond hot air buzzwords. People are getting to caught up looking at little things to quibble on, when the only thing they should be doing is taking a few moment for self-reflection and moving on with a focus on this for the future.

        Sorry if I’m wrong on the takeaway, Ryan.

  33. @ Andrew – By the end, I thought it was fairly clear that I wasn’t referring to the above post exclusively, but rather to the general tenor of Ryan’s posts. My point was that reading them can feel a bit like attending an AA meeting… You may need it at the time, but you probably wouldn’t want buy what its selling you for the rest of your life (unless you have truly lost control of your impulses, which would be another thing). The truth is, Stoicism – as I interpret it from Ryan’s posts – can be quite dull. People who adhere too strictly to its tenets probably don’t have as much fun as the rest – and that’s fine – but it’s not a course that I would ever prescribe above all others.

  34. OR, we could sit here wonder why Zak seems to speculate endlessly about things not being “easy” or “happy” or “fun” enough and how that rings so obviously of transference. Look, dude, that is about you. It has nothing to do with what I’m talking about.

    This is most clearly illustrated by your preposterous misreading of AA.

  35. Zachary Gottlieb August 16, 2010 at 7:13 am

    I don’t think I “misread” AA at all, actually, but I won’t bother with reasons, since apparently you didn’t care enough to do so. In any case, you have a tendency to put words in my mouth… Where exactly do I wonder why things aren’t “easy” or “happy” enough for me? On the contrary, I think my comments throw up the question of why life doesn’t seem to be “easy” or “happy” enough for you…

    The fact that you’ve written things like this:

    “A student or a two-million a year bank executive have equal access to the same feeling – the one that we seem to be subconsciously pulled to, like it is fulfilling or innately purposeful though we know, deep down, that’s just an illusion. So maybe the flutter you feel when the street cleaves through the heart of the city isn’t something to scorn, maybe it’s something to embrace.”

    …Is indication enough that you know exactly what I’m driving at, as fond as you are of suggesting that nothing I’ve written has any significance. I think that the blind spot comes from not recognizing that true acceptance is at least as much about accepting compulsive behaviour as it is the reality beyond the illusions that it can create. Yes, we are all born animals, with base desires and tendencies, and of course we should check those impulses as often as we can admit (I like reading your blog because it often helps me to do just that). However, by attacking self-delusion and “aimless” pleasure-seeking in the vehement manner that you are wont to do, you’re not quite seeing that such an act is itself a huge stifler of one’s spirit – or an obstacle to personal freedom – when our emotions are just as natural a part of our inheritance as our ability to reason.

    You want to discuss transference? The biting and dismissive tone you display towards so many of the commenters who have anything remotely critical to say about your posts smacks to me of pre-woundedness and a desire to take out anger towards yourself on your would-be detractors. Honestly, I looked for one encouraging thing that you had written about anyone’s comment (they’re certainly not all negative…), but I came up short. Why do you continue to write if you have such a low regard for most of your audience? Do you think that the way you respond to people who are trying to give their heartfelt input is similar to how Socrates influenced those around him? You quoted it yourself, dude:

    “Who is wise? He that learns from everyone.”

    You’re a very gifted writer and you’ve shared some rare and compelling insights on this blog. If you stop trying to act so superior then they’ll get even better.

  36. Zachary Gottlieb August 16, 2010 at 7:13 am

    I don’t think I “misread” AA at all, actually, but I won’t bother with reasons, since apparently you didn’t care enough to do so. In any case, you have a tendency to put words in my mouth… Where exactly do I wonder why things aren’t “easy” or “happy” enough for me? On the contrary, I think my comments throw up the question of why life doesn’t seem to be “easy” or “happy” enough for you…

    The fact that you’ve written things like this:

    “A student or a two-million a year bank executive have equal access to the same feeling – the one that we seem to be subconsciously pulled to, like it is fulfilling or innately purposeful though we know, deep down, that’s just an illusion. So maybe the flutter you feel when the street cleaves through the heart of the city isn’t something to scorn, maybe it’s something to embrace.”

    …Is indication enough that you know exactly what I’m driving at, as fond as you’ve been of suggesting that nothing I’ve written has any significance. I think that the blind spot comes from not recognizing that true acceptance is at least as much about accepting compulsive behaviour as it is the reality beyond the illusions that it can create. Yes, we are all born animals, with base desires and tendencies, and of course we should check those impulses as often as we can admit (I love reading your blog because it often helps me to do just that). However, by attacking self-delusion and “aimless” pleasure-seeking in the vehement manner that you are wont to do, you’re not quite seeing that such an act is itself a huge stifler of one’s spirit – or an obstacle to personal freedom – when our emotions are just as natural a part of our inheritance as our ability to reason.

    You want to discuss transference? The biting and dismissive tone you display towards so many of the commenters who have anything remotely critical to say about your posts smacks to me of pre-woundedness and a desire to take out anger towards yourself on your would-be detractors. Honestly, I looked for one encouraging thing that you had written about anyone’s comment (they’re certainly not all negative…), but I came up short. Why do you continue to write if you have such a low regard for most of your audience? Do you think that the way you respond to people who are trying to give their heartfelt input is similar to how Socrates chose to influence those around him? You quoted it yourself, dude:

    “Who is wise? He that learns from everyone.”

    You’re a gifted writer and you’ve shared some strong and rare insights on this blog: ones that I would never have myself. Just don’t act so superior and they’ll get even better.

  37. I want to respond critically to this article but I simply can’t. Why? Because I know my motivation ties directly into the kind of self-deception that you’re targeting here.

    Anyone who has read this blog for a while should know that this is one of Ryan’s primary themes: he wants to do away with the false sense of self-worth that we get from artificial life changes.

    I don’t, however, interpret his list as an attack on my character even though two of them apply to me: a) blogging and b) graduate school. Even though I see value in both of those things (as Ryan quotes, “you have to start with the world as it is, not as you would like it to be”), it doesn’t mean Ryan is wrong. Blogging or graduate school will not and should not validate you as a person.

    That’s what I take from it, anyway.

  38. Ryan, you’re an idiot.

  39. I beg your pardon, Ryan. Everest College is awesome. Just take a look…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJl0XuDKSjc

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