Pitching out corrupts within

If you’re trying to answer an interesting question, you probably can’t write yourself a complete roadmap. You can survey the terrain and de-risk as much as is sensible, but you’ll reach your destination via the insights and opportunities you discover along the way. Consequently, it’s terribly important that you keep your eyes open and avoid fooling yourself: your breakthrough might be hiding in that outlier data point you’re tempted to elide in your analysis.

If you need to be brutally honest when talking to yourself, you’d better be brutally honest when talking to others about your work. I don’t think it’s possible to craft slanted marketing messages about your “great progress” without closing your eyes to what’s actually happening. By contrast, if you Work with the garage door up and openly discuss the challenges you’re struggling with (aka Anti-marketing, after Michael Nielsen, you create a feedback loop which rewards skepticism and honesty. You make integrity a consistent part of your identity, rather than trying to wall it off from your marketing messages.


Conversation with Michael Nielsen, 2019-11-27

The title is taken from:
Tufte, E. R. (2006). The cognitive style of PowerPoint: Pitching out corrupts within. Cheshire, Conn.: Graphics Press.

Last updated 2023-07-13.