William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

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honesty, the worst policy

There's this little bit in the introduction to A Brief History Of Time where Stephen Hawking tells of a friend who advised him that every equation he put in the book would halve its sales. Hawking says that he still intends to include one equation, that being Einstein's energy equals mass times the speed of light squared (e=mc^2), and hopes that it will not halve the sales of his book. That's brutal, painful honesty, and we should be thankful that it ever got past his editors and publisher. Saying anything about purchasing a book, within a book, is a ticket to nowhere unless your name is Dave Barry. Fortunately, History of Time did fairly well and helped make Hawking a household name.

It's like when I do up a résumé and I'm forced to talk about who I am and what I've accomplished, such as it is. I'm a brutally, carelessly honest sort of person, and this honesty has probably cost me a number of potential jobs. I'm at the point now where I ought to consider outright lying, as many people around me have begun to advise. But my principles forbid me. However, when my back gets pushed a little closer to the wall, my principles will be the first thing to go.

Sometimes I get cynical and I think that we're all fundamentally selfish, judgemental, and perhaps even evil. Despite this, it is still a beautiful world. I think we humans are a work in progress. If we can continue to meet challenges (and create new ones) the same way that we have until now, we should be fine for millions of years to come.

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