The Value of Productive Paranoia

Before you buy a house, before you buy a car, before you start acquiring things, first put away enough savings so you could go a year without a job because you might have to.

I’m not sure productive paranoia is healthy entirely, in the sense that it can make you very much on edge, but it can be very productive.  So think about it this way:


Suppose you’re playing a game where are you going to get heads or tails, and tails is bad and heads is good.  And at some point you get six tails in a row and let’s suppose you’re going to get a heads at seven. But suppose that at the sixth one you’re out of money, you’re out of the game, it’s over.  It doesn’t matter that you’re going to get a heads at seven.  What productive paranoia means is to say "wait a minute, we have to always be building our setups such that we can absorb one, two, three, four, five, six, maybe seven, eight, or nine tails in a row because if we get knocked out at six it’s not going to matter that it’s going to get better at ten."

Before you buy a house, before you buy a car, before you start acquiring things, first put away enough savings so you could go a year without a job because you might have to.  And not only that, once you have it—protect it. That’s your reserve fund, that’s your shock absorber fund.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Originally Poe envisioned a parrot, not a raven

Quoth the parrot — "Nevermore."

The Green Parrot by Vincent van Gogh, 1886
Culture & Religion
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1949) is considered one of America's great writers.
  • Poe penned his most famous poem, The Raven, in his 30s.
  • Originally, the poem's feathered subject was a bit flamboyant.
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less