Are you tempted to bet against humankind? What’s in it for you?

Just as we were finishing the final edits on Man Alive!, my friend Jim Klein insisted that we needed a separate domain for the book. This had not been a part of my plain — I was prepared to launch the book from here — but Jimmy insisted, and he backed up his conviction by paying for the new site. I built it out on Saturday, and we were ready to launch on Sunday.

By now, I’m very glad Jim held the line. and have similar agendas, but, by being so much more tightly focused, the new site is proving very valuable at focusing my mind.

As is this little syllogism from Chapter Seven of the book: 1 > 0 > –1. I first started playing with this idea in Why the Quantum Leapers Didn’t Leap… (Incidentally, if you want to make it really big as a starving artist, writing comic send-ups of the epistemology of theoretical physics is a great place to start.) I expressed my own take on reality the other way: 0 !> 1, but that’s not as useful as it could be: It’s a nice summary of why one should avoid vice, but it does not even acknowledge virtue.

But 1 > 0 > –1 turns out to be a very compelling formulation. Jim has told me it’s changing the way he thinks, and my wife, Cathleen, used it again and again to analyze Mad Men Sunday night. And it goes for me, too, to my surprise. I find myself evaluating everything I think against that simple mathematical expression, with salutary results.

Want proof? I can prove both propositions put forth in this post, that the new domain was a big win and that sorting virtue from vice methodically yields valuable results. This is me last night at, a post I also shared on FaceBook:

Yesterday I celebrated my outsized hubris at FaceBook, and my belief is that everyone wants to feel that way — wants to thrive and to rejoice and to triumph as the rewards of a life well lived. If that’s so, I want to do everything I can to show anyone who wants that Splendor how to find it.

And if it’s not so? Press on regardless. There is nothing for me in despair. To the contrary, this little syllogism — 1 > 0 > –1 — demonstrates beyond all doubt that any sort of dour or doubtful or despairing opinion of the imaginary idea of “people in general” is an undivided negative for my own future self-adoration.

There’s more: I am much more likely to prove myself right about other people by believing that they want the same things that I want. Not only does that belief keep me motivated, but the work I am thereby motivated to do will be much more likely to persuade people to my way of thinking. We do well by doing good, and doing well for me is doing this work in the best way I can. In the end, virtue is its own reward, so the work I do will be the best I can do, either way. But it does not hurt me — to the contrary, it helps me a great deal — that I am so certain that I am right about my brothermen.

If you truly want to live in the world say you want to live in, stop volunteering to live anywhere else. If you want the best payoff possible from other people — stop betting against them.

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