Entrepreneur and investor Paul Graham writes in his essay How to Be an Expert in a Changing World
that when experts are wrong, “it’s often because they’re experts in an earlier version of the world.”
If the world were static, then we could have increasing confidence in those beliefs that survived more experiences over time.
But the world isn’t static.
Graham recommends two ways to help protect yourself against obsolete beliefs:
Have an explicit belief in change: Beliefs about the future are “so rarely correct that they usually aren’t worth the extra rigidity they impose, and that the best strategy is simply to be aggressively open-minded.” It’s OK to have working hypotheses, but you should be disciplined enough to ensure they don’t “harden into anything more.”
Bet on people over ideas: Predicting the nature of future discoveries is hard. Predicting the kind of people who will make them is easier – good new ideas come from those who are earnest, energetic, and independent-minded. “If you want to notice quickly when your beliefs become obsolete, you can’t do better than to be friends with the people whose discoveries will make them so.”