Maya Angelou: Courage is the Most Important Virtue

Words of wisdom from Maya Angelou: "Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently."

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was an African-American poet and author most famous for her landmark 1969 book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first of seven autobiographical accounts of her incredible life.


Angelou was and still is revered for her sage wisdom and keen insights into race, class, and self-determination. The quote below reflects her belief that a well-lived life relies upon the courageous dedication to lead that life. It takes bravery to dedicate oneself to virtue; you can't have the latter without a whole lot of the former.

We are fortunate to have author and talk show host Tavis Smiley among our many Big Think Experts. Smiley recently published a book titled My Journey with Mayaa recollection of his 30-year friendship with the iconic American poet. Below, Smiley discusses some of Angelou's most helpful pieces of advice:

​Is science synonymous with 'truth'? Game theory says, 'not always.'

Good science is sometimes trumped by the craving for a "big splash."

Videos
  • Scientists strive to earn credit from their peers, for grants from federal agencies, and so a lot of the decisions that they make are strategic in nature. They're encouraged to publish exciting new findings that demonstrate some new phenomenon that we have never seen before.
  • This professional pressure can affect their decision-making — to get acclaim they may actually make science worse. That is, a scientist might commit fraud if he thinks he can get away with it or a scientist might rush a result out of the door even though it hasn't been completely verified in order to beat the competition.
  • On top of the acclaim of their peers, scientists — with the increasing popularity of science journalism — are starting to be rewarded for doing things that the public is interested in. The good side of this is that the research is more likely to have a public impact, rather than be esoteric. The bad side? To make a "big splash" a scientist may push a study or article that doesn't exemplify good science.

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer
popular

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

Keep reading Show less

NASA and ESA team up for historic planetary defense test

Two space agencies plan missions to deflect an asteroid.

ESA's Hera mission above asteroid 65803 Didymos. Credit: ESA/ScienceOffice.org
Surprising Science
  • NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working together on missions to a binary asteroid system.
  • The DART and Hera missions will attempt to deflect and study the asteroid Didymoon.
  • A planetary defense system is important in preventing large-scale catastrophes.
Keep reading Show less