“What will you do to stay weird?”

That was a question I asked someone while discussing the topic of careers, in this case academic careers but it applies more broadly.  Virtually by definition, the major pressures are toward conformity, yet a budding innovator may wish to stay weird for purposes of superior creativity and perhaps enjoyment as well.  What strategies can be used, or passively allowed to operate (in case one is weird already) to stay weird?

I thought of a few options:

1. Adhere to a weird ideology.

Libertarianism used to serve this function fairly well.  If you were a libertarian, the mainstream forces might decide you are hopeless and stop pressuring you to conform.  Furthermore, your libertarian peer group would encourage you to stay weird, so that you would stick with them and also weirdness was all they knew.

But these days libertarianism isn’t so weird anymore, even if most people strongly disagree with it.  (“You want to legalize all drugs?  Ho hum.  Just yesterday I read a guy on the internet who wants…”)  And there is a libertarian establishment that will encourage you to conform more than it encourages you to stay weird.

You might thus opt for a weirder view yet, perhaps to be found in the Bay Area.  In any case, this strategy deserves to make the list, even if it does not always work or is less effective than it used to be.  This gets at one of the problems with the internet, namely that by normalizing or at least regularizing the weird, it can be harder to actually stay weird.

Nonetheless support for Trump may offer some new hope here, even though he won 48 percent of the vote.

2. Be gay or lesbian or bisexual.

No longer so effective in keeping you out of the mainstream, mostly for good reasons, but there is a cultural loss attached to this progress.

3. Be a jerk.

People might then just ignore you altogether, or conspire against you.  Either way, the pressures toward conformity will weaken.  Still, you have to be a jerk and that is a high cost for you and for others.  I don’t recommend this method, but it does seem to have worked for a number of leading scientists, just ask Eric Weinstein for his list.

4. Move to the middle of nowhere.  Or move to another country.

The internet might be limiting the effectiveness of this strategy too, although it lowers its costs for the same reasons.

5. Cultivate a highly unusual physical appearance.

Still a live option.

6. Marry someone from another country.

A weird country, preferably.

7. Develop a small group of intensely weird but smart friends, and treat them as your relevant audience.

A very good path, though due to the problems with the other options, your weird friends might themselves turn too normal.  This may require a kind of collective bootstrapping method.

8. Read extensively in weird areas, outside the present and outside of your home nation, and refuse to read much news.

9. Adopt impenetrable terminology.

Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoord-enenthurnuk to that one!

10. Blog rather than tweet.  Stay off Twitter altogether.

Duh.

11. Avoid conference attendance.  Especially for conferences that are more than five years old.

12. Avoid becoming famous for reasons other than your weirdness.

13. Develop and maintain a highly unusual family structure.

What else might you try?

Comments

One option is a more complicated version of 1: Maintain multiple heterodoxies and spend time in 2+ heterodox communities where your other heterodoxy is viewed with suspicion. I do this with Christian philosophy and libertarian philosophy. The Christians don't like the libertarianism and the libertarians don't like the Christianity (the libertarians are the more exclusionary). It keeps me weird because I'm always a quasi-outcast, never comfortable in an in-group. Cross-pressures to conform become less powerful because they are cross-cutting.

13. Develop and maintain a highly unusual family structure.

TC jumped the shark and is now recommending cuckoldry. I knew it.

There is little more unusual than the traditional family and its quirks and oddities.

Admire your passion, but disagree with your politics :-)

Not sure the measure of "Weirdness" is based on a menu of options.

Anyhow, to me the epitome of weird was a blind, NYC musician who until 1972 habituated Sixth Avenue in the lower 50's streets, dressed - horned helmet, cloak - like an ancient Viking. He was called "Moondog."

"Did you see Moondog on the corner of 53rd and Sixth?" "No." "He didn't see you, either."

+5 internet points to Dick the Butcher for an interesting post instead of his usual partisan crap. That couldn't have been easy for him.

14. Take up an unusual hobby at an inappropriate age.
15. Adopt a rakish personal style, e.g., 3-piece suits (if male) with bow tie no matter how hot the summer day. (RIP James Unger, former debate coach at Georgetown University.
16. The blog should be long-form. Very long. The present one qualifies.
17. Read pre-Gutenberg literature and live by its teachings.
18. Believe in God in a non-evangelical way.
19. Delve deeply into an obscure topic or three and become identified with it.
20. Truly don't care what other people think. That guy has moved on and the space is open.

17. Yes, where is the Australian prepared to do battle with the Bull of Heaven and save the land?

Great comment!

Seek and find the next "Trout Mask Replica" album (TMR is now over 50 yo). 'Bout time to get really wierd.

No offense, but I think if you're doing a lot of these things consciously and for the expressed purpose of being weird or differentiating yourself from those around you, you're just a poseur. Truly weird people don't have to come up with lists like this about how to be weird; they just follow their preferences. Also, let's not romanticize weirdness: a lot of people who are weird don't realize it because they don't understand how they're being perceived by others. This is generally an undesirable trait.

Also, just because one is conformist along one dimension does not necessarily imply conformity along others. Part of being an individual is deciding when it makes sense to go with the flow, and when not to. It's not clear to me that being non-conformist in largely symbolic ways like wearing a three piece suit is any way to cultivate good judgement about when to be non-conformist in substantive ways.

Precisely. The weird thing may be to be having a conversation about weirdness rather than blindly conforming to either conventional or weird norms. We of course do both no matter how big a weird (or normal) sticker we put on our foreheads. To me that is the fun, finding the weird in the normal and the normal in the weird.

Three piece suit man was the mentor to a generation of political consultants, policy wonks and entrepreneurs. One of his students became a major political strategists and chief presidential debate coach. No poseur there.

Sure, but I bet he would have been roughly as successful had he stocked his wardrobe with two piece suits.

I don't think so. Taste comes from within. When you find expression of your own personal style, your creative freedom is unleashed. It's not for everyone, but if it is for you, accept no substitutes!

In French, the tailor shops price a business suit with a one word label: "Costume".
That means you're being offered a chance to put on a specific kind of Mask. Appearance formalizes interactions, and the pretense of a bow-tie can make everything take on a more 'grown up' feeling.
Dressing weird is indeed 'surface deep'. It invites poseur-dom.
Who says poseurs don't end up exposing themselves to interactions that would have otherwise never been accessible to them otherwise?
Not so much 'fake it until you make it'; more
'even fake makes you take it'. The mask narrows, but also directs attention. Even when completely artificial, mastery of courtly behavior can be just as challenging and differentiating an expertise as learning a martial art

RIP Unger. I watch with continual fascination the reticulated network of debate gods, as they move from debate rounds to running policy.
Speaking of weirdness squaring itself:
Is there any book about Unger's world? I recognized, from Northwestern's debate angle, his dominance incestuously included key Democratic strategists. If there were to be an inside-baseball record of the NDT championships in the 70s, it would have to end in ignominy. I met Georgetown debaters in college rounds, and my HS partner was on Georgetown's team during the Barrett-Bland era. Through them, I had a conversation once with Ron Klain, who already had been on Biden's staff.

All good things must come to an end. Shrum had his shortcomings, obviously, but the Unger/Reynolds world was a formidable one. Politics evolves. I was at GWU coached by Shrum's Georgetown partner. There is some material online about that era and the changes made since. What a time.

I vaguely recall the name James Unger as the most legendary coach from my years in high school debate, 1972-1975.

It may not be for everyone, and there may be other potential drawbacks that outweighs the weird-specific benefits. But occasional psychedelic use at least merits a place on the list.

I think there's little doubt that a decent-dose of LSD every 3-12 months causally increases intellectual weirdness.

Ha, that last sentence just made it onto my email signature. You are forever immortalized in my work email!

This is a very interesting idea specifically because it makes good sense but I believe TC is a skeptic towards the benefits of psychedelics.

My contrarian take, based on personal observation, is that psychedelic use doesn’t make people weird but has the counterintuitive effect of just making them more open and conformant to the prevailing mood of their surrounding culture.

One of my favorite songs is Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, about the original band member Syd Barrett who destroyed his mind with LSD. I don't like to see anyone making light of the potential for harm. Comfortably Numb, too, is bleak about drug use along the lines you mention, diminishing rather than enhancing.

i've seen enough disastrous LSD experiences to think that it's not a good idea.

Have you all taken psychedelics before? I have not but those I know who have have pretty much uniformly said it was transformative and mostly positive. But there are absolutely many cases where people abused it and the results were disastrous.

How about the usual: explore even further moral horizons for new points of equilibrium. Do not take for granted even the basics. Question and answer the economical viability of growing children for organs. Or something else equally appalling. If that is too much, question if you can grow monkeys with botched brain development and use them for medical experiments. Try to solve the standard trolley problem and all of its variations.

Let's think of the obverse: We live in very, very conformist surroundings. Why? Some other countries are or were somewhat more tolerant of weirdness.

I've done 1, 4 and 6, but it hasn't led to fame. :-)

Oh, and 20! :-)

When your ideas don't match those of the herd, make sure that the herd members know about it. When your boss tells you that he's going fishing ask him if he returns some of the fish to the water after "playing" them. Then tell him he's indulging in fish torture. Make fun of your in-laws beige wall-to-wall carpeting. After cooing over the neighbor's baby boy that's just undergone circumcision ask if their daughter will have her genitals mutilated as well.

Been there: done that: Which is why my lifetime income has been low. :-(

Don't forget to whinge about Native Americans

Become a professional YouTube Vlogger. You have to become a bit weird to stand out and attract Patreons.

6. Anyone have any tips for marrying someone from another (weird) country? Also, which countries are weird (compared to USA presumably)?

I have done or been accused of most on TC's list. To answer your question, the best country for marrying somebody from a non-US and possibly weird country is to try the Philippines, IMO. Thailand is more weird by US standards but doesn't have the demographics. Indonesia is too Muslim and conservative for me. Latin America also has good demographics and if you don't speak Spanish is sufficiently weird. The white countries like Moldovia, Russia, Ukraine and the like don't have good demographics, ditto for China, where men outnumber women. A good safe choice for marrying weird in the USA is to marry a Washington DC woman, which outnumber men and are quite diverse. For more blue collar types, marry a woman from Arizona.

Bonus trivia: I made my day in this provincial Greek mountain town I'm posting from when I met, by chance, and recognized from years ago, the local priest. I cannot get into details but this guy, who married (as permitted by Greek Orthodox law) a woman half his age, sired a number of issue, and acquired quite a fortune from agricultural interests, is quite funny in his own unintentional way, cynical and though he would deny it, secular, and is one of my all-time favorite priests. Not sure what he thinks of me, probably he thinks I'm a fool, but no matter. A Greek "whiskey priest", living a weird life!

What’s wrong with Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova’s demographics? If you’re going by male-female ratio, they have the best demographics.

@Zaua - not true, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_sex_ratio - sort by 15-24 age group and see that Russia, Moldova < Greece < Philippines for women to men ratio. Also availability is the key: low populations in the former USSR means from a Lanchester equation analysis, you're unlikely to find women interested in you (not to mention the language problem, since the former USSR speaks little English as a rule, but the Philippines does).

Bonus trivia: I'm well aware of the former USSR's non-white population, having visited cities such as Frunze.

I know you are always kinda trolly, but you do know that Russia is very much not "white"? It has about 20% of non-slavic people in the population (about the same number as USA has "non-white" people). Also, quite a lot of "Russians" are descendants of not quite-Russians, who were suppressed both in Imperial and Communist Russia and therefore suddenly "became" Russian.

In terms of meeting people from other countries, towns in the US with research universities are probably the best bet. A large percentage of grad students are foreign (in the sciences I think it’s a super-majority) and foreign students are a group that is already self-selected for intelligence and adventurousness, plus usually they have no family or other friends in the US and therefore no family or other friend drama.

Be careful on that one, they might get homesick and depressed. At the very least, they'll want to fly back home for a visit once or twice a year...and you might have to come too. With kids, you're talking the price of three or four round-trip tickets a year. If their families are poor, some of the money you earn might go to help her family. Her parents might move in, which could be a real benefit if they're good at helping out, babysitting, etc.

On the plus side, good chance she might be a virgin and have more conservative values. Political correctness will seem strange to her. She'll say things that would be shocking if uttered by a native. It will seem refreshing. And she won't expect as much from you in terms of housekeeping and child-rearing. She's just looking for someone to start a family with.

Attended a small rural Maryland party recently and four of the dozen white dudes there had foreign wives: Brazil, Colombia, Ireland, and Venezuela. Three of the four couples met on the internet.

Some Indian Context:
a) Libertarian-ism is still (very) weird.
b) Replace Trump with Modi.

Nothing says conformity like forced, artificial weirdness. Not impressed.

It is not artificial weirdness, it is about avoiding artificial conformity, which is where most of the social pressures are pointing you toward.

Is there a definition for artificial conformity?

Yes, what's the difference between artificial and actual conformity?

One intuitive dichotomy parallels the hazy but handy distinction between intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.
"Artificial conformity" explicitly role-plays, with irony, while painstakingly oberving the formalities (e.g, drag).
Actual conformity (sort of equiv to intrinsic) covers the modal case: Sheeple, who comprise the lurking majority, deflecting their conformity in the most culturally acceptable denials.

Tyler's denigration of artificial conformity gives me a 2nd take on this, that might align with why it's being anathematized.
Perhaps natural conformity is behaviorally in tune with our form. Drinking water isn't cheapened by being a cliche.
Artificial conformity may or may not include all the weird equilibria that emerge from sexual selection signaling. Or maybe, behavior in accord with some made up, therefore usually bad, restrictions.

Conformity (or rebelling against conformity by being weird) is reactive whether it is real or artificial. Doing your own thing (to the extent this is possible) is not. As Feynman wrote, "why do you care what other people think?" Perhaps not caring is the ultimate weirdness.

How about, portray yourself as a well-read, independent thinker, who remarkably comes to safe, conventional establishment conclusions. Like Tyler.

...are the many-named Thiago and almost as many-named efim polenov/anonymous as usual/wwebd

That's how you do weird.

Damn. I like Tyler, but that was a kill shot right there.

First, Tyler is contrarian in method. His super fast reading speed, various professional roles, constant podcasting and networking, obsessive learning, perpetual travel, and sheer stamina enable him take in many more and different inputs, which allows him to have many more and different outputs. But it’s what’s in between where he shines. He sees the world as an economist, philosopher, psychologist, sociologist, anthropologist, liberal and conservative, globalist and nationalist, foreigner and native, art critic and artist, employer/administrator and employee, grant provider and grant recipient, interviewer and interviewee, teacher and student. There is almost no one who views the world like Tyler because almost no one has a comparable number or variety of inputs or mental models. Even if his conclusions were conventional, his reasoning and perspectives wouldn’t be.

But Tyler is also contrarian in substance. He just wrote a book *in support* of big business. Previously, he cast aside positive rights and implored us to simply maximize sustainable economic growth (subject to basic negative human rights), partly because the future’s people are just as valuable as the present’s. Economists like growth but not zero social discount rates, philosophers, the reverse. Only Tyler combined them both into an original and compelling moral philosophy.

Lastly, Tyler helps other contrarians. As chair of the GMU economics department he brought on polymaths like John Nye and Robin Hanson, not just to be a second-rate MIT, but to be something new altogether. As director of the Mercatus Center, he’s hired contrarians on monetary policy like Scott Sumner. As host of a podcast, he’s talked not just with economists, philosophers, and entrepreneurs, but also with former pro athletes, music buffs, novelists, classicists, and a convicted murderer. As part of emergent ventures, he’s funded bizarre projects that no other mainstream org would. So as an employer, podcaster, and venture capitalist, he has sought out and elevated the status of demonstrably non-mainstream, non-establishment people.

What do you call someone who learns and thinks like a contrarian, has beliefs like a contrarian, and supports other contrarians?

The nut-huggery is strong with this one.

Yes these measures are artificial (unnatural), only because the social pressure to conform *is* natural. But it’s not forced; it’s intentional. If you just swim at random, the mainstream current will eventually pull you in and keep you there. It takes conscious effort to resist it and travel uncharted waters, but that’s where treasure lies.

"Develop and maintain a highly unusual family structure."

Where I live in the inner-city, that means a biological mother married to a biological father raising cis-heterosexuals. My neighbors wouldn't even recognize that as a family structure.

Have you no decency, Sir?

Inner city Beverly Hills, of course. And no, Mayberry's sheriff lost his decency after Deputy Fife was gunned down in a cocaine deal gone bad.

Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise, some people are so easy to troll, no wonder TC has a problem with his comment section.

Effort to cultivate weirdness is always a waste of time. The closest substitute is getting good at identifying problems you are particularly well suited to solving which simultaneously let you learn something new.

I agree with you. I would not, a priori, nudge someone to devote their attention to the fakery.
After they've gone and committed to it, in all its pretense, I just noticed that even having to adopt a pose gives people something to be. That's as true of hipster-with-a-beard as it is of grad students of esoterica.

Wear a MAGA hat. Everywhere.

That wouldn't signal weirdness but stupidity.

Still can’t get over it? Have a double Chardonnay on me.

I prefer Glenfiddich, especially since it is no longer available anywhere Trump's writ rules.

....lol where do you live? Glenfiddich is widely available even in DC.

That makes Trump as weird as hell. This checks out.

Autism as a lifestyle choice. Now, that's weird. It worked for Greta Thunberg: she definitely found her calling.

Good one, first time that one of your comments made me laugh.

Don't read blogs, don't read comment sections. Ignore economic academia altogether (bunch of pathological liars that behave like a tribe, their research is useless or at least vastly overrated), ignore politics, and mainstream opinions (climate change, feminism, anti racism, redistribution and other garbage ideas). Any network of thinkers, researchers will protect incumbents vs seeking truthful statements. Travel more and avoid reporting to your friends and family. Become much better at your job. Avoid alcohol, avoid getting fat, stay fit (brain needs oxygen). Get a new girl every quarter but dump her asap.

Wasn't this supposed to be posted on New Years?

14. Have money. Then you can be as weird as you want and never have to worry about what other people think up to the point of illegality. Most pressure to conform is basically economic, fear of losing a job or an extended social network or reputation needed to get a job. And many eccentricities that are aggravating in a middle-class person are endearing and humanizing in a rich person.

Money may or may not be the difference between weird and eccentric. Along with the fact that eccentric is much harder to pull off well.

+1 The most influencial thinkers had a lot of money, enough not to care about anything: Platon, Democrite, Epicure, Descartes, Voltaire, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Marx,...

You forgot Jesus and Socrates, unless you consider both of them to be less influential thinkers that Voltaire or Nietsche, and thus not among the most influential.

Or maybe the fact that neither possessed wealth is why they weren't iincluded,

Well, we don't have any original writings of Jesus or Socrates so we don't really know how many of their teachings were really theirs. All we know of their teachings were passed down second-hand by others (who had wealth).

True about original writings, and that is certainly relevant in the case of Jesus. On the other hand, Plato was influenced by Socrates, if only because Plato was a student of Socrates. As was Xenophon.Basically, dismissing Socrates because of a lack of original writings is interesting in this light.

But have we been influenced by Socrates or by Plato? Is there any difference?

Do we call it the Socratic or Platonic method? Is there any difference?

You might be forgetting about Xenophon and Memorabilia - there is more than one influential Greek contemporary of Socrates who wrote about him.

"...yet a budding innovator may wish to stay weird for purposes of superior creativity and perhaps enjoyment as well. What strategies can be used, or passively allowed to operate (in case one is weird already) to stay weird?"

You're kidding, right? perhaps implicitly urging a Straussian interpretation of your query? To quote Will from the comments, "Nothing says conformity like forced, artificial weirdness."

Adolescents, of course, do all sorts of things. That's what youth is for, one of the things. But any one who is weird beyond early adulthood is either 1) exploring this new territory (in whatever sense, but mostly metaphorical) they've made their way to, or 2) they're a fool, 3) perhaps even crazy. To a casual observer those may not appear different – someone stepping to 7/8 in a 4/4 world. But a more acute observer will see differences. Such an observer is likely to look for differences among those alternatives and formulate questions so as to discriminate among them.

Hoodies uber alles.

Concur.

Bike to work. You will be hated by 99% of the car driving population.

Sadly, the software cannot handle an author called "K - miniscule - benhavn - is not weird, it is just spelled that way". Even weirder, it seems as if that character is not allowed in the body of a comment.

Move to a weird country like Denmark, and such problems disappear.

Both the spelling and the hatred of the car driving population.

And you'll increase your risk of dying by 100%.

Depends on if you factor in the reduction in heart disease.

Good point. Increase your life expectancy by 15%, reduce it by 100%. Still a loser.

Adopt cuckoldry and wife swapping as a lifestyle. All my libertarian friends are doing it. I find it invigorating.

Fully agree.

As a long-time practitioner, I concur!

Mr. Dias has been fired from the Ministery of Education. Any order from him is unlawful and must not be fulfilled.

If you follow the truth wherever it may lead, you will always be condemned as weird. Witness Greta. She believes. Even if I disagree with her approach, I accept that she follows what she believes to be true.

At this point, she's little more than a kidnapping victim, having been force-fed lies for literally as long as she can remember.

Inspiring stuff.

It burns.

For almost all of us truth is a social construction. If you approach everything from first principles ignoring what society approoves of or considers taboo. You may be right or wrong, but you will be weird.

This is one of the central insights of the sociologist Moral Mazes. Within a corporation (Dow Chemical was observed), expressing any hesitation to dismiss the ethical for expedient effectively ends your career. You'll never be entrusted with the higher up calls, and the top 10% of the executives will simply route around you (and your ethics).

#8. I was disappointed to find such good weird advice because I wanted to rant how this was left out. I almost never read it watch news yet find myself perfectly informed through cultural osmosis. In the meantime I amuse myself much more through reading history or books which have been out of print for decades. I get to follow my own whine rather than the whims of cultural dad's, which makes me weird enough to be somewhat interesting without really trying, what more can one hope for?

Travel way more than everyone else intentionally going to places not in Europe/Australia.

Believe and advocate that economic growth is THE thing that matters, and talk about how important it is to travel to places that are growing because of the culture of growth.

Be annoyed with inefficiency in all forms, bad infrastructure, long lines, single family homes in the center of new york. Have a well scripted rant about each.

Nitpick: Trump got 46%, not 48% of the popular vote.

It is certainly constitutionally contrarian to start liking Trump now, because so many other people are waking up.

Trump's approval rating has been at the same (dismal) level his entire term. No one is waking up, the haters still hate, the lovers still love.

Totally not a nitpick, just a flat-out fact: Trump got 57% of the electoral votes. That's an ass-kicking.

Gotta love that Electrural College!

I Want the World to Have a Vote!

Get fired from your university position.

Move to Germany.

Troll the blog of a former colleague using many prior aliases.

Get banned multiple times.

Spend time trying to find ways back into the comment section of the blog you trolled.

I did think of prior, but he's a pretty standard type, the scorned loser on the internet. Not that weird.

Thiago and efim polenov, as mentioned above. That's the weird gold standard.

Well, darn. As if I don’t have enough to do already, now I have to go read The Double Helix. (Check out the link Tyler included to the obit for Francis Crick.)
Among other things the book should help with three interesting questions:

1) Was Crick an asshole?

Probably yes, but that answer appears not to be as obvious as it seems.

2) Is there a positive correlation between genius and assholiness?

Anecdotally for sure. But that conclusion may be subject to confirmation bias. I want to see the data.

3) If you’re a genius are you better off being an asshole?

Maybe. It’s certainly easier to be an asshole than to be a good person. Also, if you’re a genius it’s more fun to be an asshole. I try never to be an asshole in seminars. That’s not because I’m an especially nice person. It’s because I’m not a genius. I need to ask questions and make comments in a nice way because I’m quite likely to be wrong. I know from experience that that the mistakes of a mediocre nice guy are much more likely to be overlooked than the mistakes of mediocre asshole.

But on the other hand…if you’re a genius who happens to have some spiritual/religious sentiment, you may want to avoid asshole-like behavior. That’s obviously true if you think a righteous God punishes assholes. But more importantly, a belief in the transcendent leads to a certain humility.

The best example of all of this may be Fred Rogers, a genius and a non-asshole. Mr Rogers clearly worked hard at being nice. He took time to be with people when he could have been working on his craft. And his concern with kids was genuine even though kids are often assholes. But he was also a deeply committed Christian.

Francis Crick appears to be a close-minded atheist. It makes sense that he’d be an asshole.

Can you consciously choose to be weird,

Or

Is true weirdness thrust upon you?

Choosing to be weird is just picking out a different set of clothes to wear.

Yes.

What's strange about this list is not the contents of the list itself. They're fine. What's strange is that it's framed as personal advice rather than as a bunch of casual observations by a social scientist.

It's not as though we're all inside our own Japanese mecha that we operate and can open it up and step outside at any time. Once outside we survey the scene, make some decisions, open a hatch in the mecha's under-carriage, and make some adjustments. When we're done we then climb back inside the cockpit and operate the reconfigured mecha.

That's no how it works.

Flat earth ears, white supremacists, ghetto rappers and Asian tiger moms are just about the weirdest people I can think off. Maybe emulate one of them?

*Flat Earthers

No, flat earth ears was completely correct, and is one of the genetic markers that allows one to reliably judge such people's IQ (only in in a statistical sense - some of my best friends are flat earthers).

The easiest and most fun way: eat funny. Conventional eaters are baffled by this.

I just stick to the four food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone.

Don't try to be weird. Try to be true to yourself (which may include weird aspects) and at peace with the world (even while trying to make some changes in it).

("Read the Mueller Report" as a case in point.)

My entry into the sweepstakes: become Impossibly Normal (according to my own definition, which I know no longer applies, and is itself just a caricature of a normalcy which does not exist):

Move to Peoria
Live in a 1970s ranch home in a Peoria suburb.
Own three cars, two of them SUVs or CUVs. On all of them place
bumper stickers for the Fighting Illini.
Play a lot of golf.
Watch a lot of Friends reruns.
Applebee's will be a nice treat on Sunday night.
If at all possible, get to know your letter carrier.
MOST CRITICALLY: enjoy all these things with no trace of irony.

I am sure readers can think of more items on the list.

Then, while you are constructing the most "white-bread" existence you can think of, paint a series of canvases depicting horrific scenes from the Rwandan genocide (or whatever), write a cryptic manifesto, and kill yourself.

This should lock down the weirdness quotient for you for some time.

lol. Some of those scrupulously on-script suburban dads from my childhood were truly weird and certifiably creepy.

The Dutch say: “doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg”. Translation: just act normal, that’s already crazy enough!

I've also experimented with passing as a Normie, and contrary to the pursuit of authenticity, it's been quite socially rewarding.

Golf turns out to be not just irony-proof, but also really fun.

Another option: be incredibly kind to everyone you meet. Open doors, smile, genuinely listen to people, turn the other cheek, do not rant, see the other side of an argument, help the worse off, etc.

Because let's face it, the weirdest person EVER in the USA, was Fred Rogers.

God Bless Him.

Live a life of intellectual and ethical principle, including robust curiosity, intellectual consistency, refusal to honor conversational taboos, and high standards for honesty (including esp. of self).

Then just watch the friends pour in.

See though your own eyes, think with your own mind, be your self. You might not be weird but you will become unique.

"This gets at one of the problems with the internet, namely that by normalizing or at least regularizing the weird, it can be harder to actually stay weird."

So what? If the internet makes it easier to do what you want to do because it connects you with others who are doing it as well, whats' wrong with that? You started down this road thinking about academic careers. It's one thing to find yourself doing something different from what everyone else is doing, and you find what you're doing very compelling. Do you continue on, or do you drop what you're doing in get in line? That's one thing. But to deliberately do something different just to be different, what's the point of working ideas you don't want anyone else to understand? If no one else understands them, what makes you think you do?

I think what he meant was that the intellectual freshness and openness quickly succumbs to being co-opted or stifled by pressures to conform.

Well, perhaps, who knows? We're all biased by our own experience in this matters. In a nutshell, here's mine:

In the early 1970s I discovered that “Kubla Khan” had a rich, marvelous, and fantastically symmetrical structure. I'd found myself intellectually. I knew what I was doing. I had a specific intellectual mission: to find the mechanisms behind “Kubla Khan.” As defined, that mission failed, and still has not been achieved some 40 odd years later.

It's like this: If you set out to hitch rides from New York City to, say, Los Angeles, and don't make it, well then your hitch-hike adventure is a failure. But if you end up on Mars instead, just what kind of failure is that? Yeah, you’re lost. Really really lost. But you’re lost on Mars! How cool is that!

The internet has allowed me to get in touch with other thinkers in a way that would have been impossible before and it has allowed me to get my ideas out there without having to put up with the intellectual conventions of standard schola

I assume this whole post is just a roundabout way of calling this Eric Weinstein fellow a jerk.

Seems like a silly list.

A weird ideology is little more than in-group signalling. After all, libertarians may wax eloquent about policy prescriptions, but how they live their life is virtually indistinguishable from everyone else.

Having minority sexual interests is likewise quite silly. You, like everyone else, are just doing what brings you pleasure.

Being a jerk is again mostly doing whatever feels best to you.

And on the this list goes ... be like everyone else, you do you in whatever idiosyncratic manner is just different enough that you need some niche marketing.

If you really want to be weird, don't do things that reinforce the overwhelming individualism and self-expression of today's culture.

True weirdness is giving of oneself, no self expressing. Want to be weird? Go follow a religion that mandates you give away large percentages of your income or wealth. Go support the soft rights of unpopular groups to hold divisive opinions without being completely shunned from civil society.

Frankly, try holding any opinion that would entail telling others that some form of "you do you" is not the highest virtue; that will make you well and truly weird.

As is this is much more a list of how to follow the dominant trends in society, just like everyone else.

i.e. teenagers who all express their differentness in exactly the same way.

"If you really want to be weird, don't do things that reinforce the overwhelming individualism and self-expression of today's culture."

"Go support the soft rights of unpopular groups to hold divisive opinions without being completely shunned from civil society."

Apparently "you do you" is OK as long as racism is involved. I mean, "divisive opinions".

re the right to not be shunned for being a divisive jerk.

Yeah, I used to find the alt-righties and wingnut entitlement crybabies weird. Now they have become so pervasive, they are merely annoying.

Now, now there is also sexism, transphobia, and all the rest if we really want to poison the well aright.

In any event holding some opinion does not make you "weird". Virtually all of the KKK types I have treated have not been terribly weird; most are posers for the shock value and those who are dyed in the wool are going along with in-group signalling.

What is truly weird in this day an age is standing up for something where you do not benefit. It is only weird if somebody non-racist stands up for the rights of racists to be dumb. It is only weird if a free marketeer stands up for the rights of socialists to be dumb.

The real weird thing these days is accepting some sacrifice that does not help your social standing in some area you like.

Good comments, but I think there is a way to integrate "you do you" and virtue. That is to recognize every life is an individual moral journey.

After I read this list I went to find something I'd read this week(*). It was a published paper on philosophy, arguing that most virtue is public, and necessarily social. In other words, signalling is a critical part of the process (to own, communicate, and propagate values).

You be you, as you create a positive change in the world.

* - via Twitter, couldn't find it again.

The word "signalling" is ready to be retired, along with it's predecessor "PC."

In my experience, the only purpose is to signal that the speaker is trying to camoflauge an infantile tantrum.

I'd say reclaim it instead.

When the right is united in the belief that power trumps virtue, it's the right-contrarian thing to do.

I guess we could say being a jerk is the opposite, anti-signalling virtue, or signalling anti-virtue.

Thinking in machine learning or econometrics terms: we want to avoid overfitting, but we can't use regularisation/shrinkage because that brings us towards the mean. We can use a higher momentum or a lower learning rate: it takes much more evidence for us to change the direction of our beliefs. This, I suppose, is lindy. We could use dropout (heavy drinking).

Or maybe being weird is a type of overfitting. Many of these methods are ways of being exposed to an unusual data stream

Don't just marry someone from another country. Live in the US as tho you were in your spouse's country. Speak their language at home, eat their food in preference to US food, watch their media, observer their holidays.

Join a weird religion, like Spiritism.

Become a dandy. Pick a past era and dress meticulously like a well-bred person from that time.

Use telephone exchange names when giving out your phone number.

Travel as a flaneur. Go on a pilgrimage.

Read underrated authors like Paul Bowles. In fact, be Paul Bowles. He was the very model of weirdness.

Attend a weird college, like Naropa University or St Johns of Annapolis.

+1 Pretty good. I especially like "Use telephone exchange names when giving out your phone number." That'll catch people by surprise.

My telephone exchange when I was six years old was POplar.

The first extreme nerd I knew in high school in 1974 only used Base 8. He'd write in a history paper: "The Declaration of Independence was issued on July 4, 3360." It drove Brother John Dobrogowski, the history teacher, crazy.

He got into Caltech in 1976 but flunked out in one semester.

Checking the web, it looks like he graduated from Caltech in his early 30s.

Base 8. Now that's a nerd. Got to appreciate it though.

Read something, anything (prose or verse) from strannikov each and every day.

Free sample: http://fictionaut.com/stories/strannikov/cornelius-van-linjpleels-contributions-to-the-study-of-etruscan-tombs

strannikov has been authentically weird from birth, if not from conception and remains weird for some reasons and otherwise for no reasons at all (he's a thoroughgoing anti-rationalist, e. g.).

He's either underrated or vastly premature.

Representative strannikovian verse for perusal:

http://fictionaut.com/stories/strannikov/masters-of-their-trade

--which to this day is not quite a villanelle.

So much of this is simply following a different herd. I don't need to spend a week in a desert surrounded by chemically induced mania to appreciate the benefits of sewage systems. So many of these suggestions can turn into messes that consume all your time and energy, with no time for innovation.

This is what I find ridiculous about Rationalists. Sure, figure it all out. By the time you do in your 40's you are past your prime and getting old.

The way to be weird now is to be profoundly small "c" conservative. Find a woman or man, live with them until one of you dies. Have a few kids, teach them to climb trees. Join a reasonable religious community. Conform where it doesn't matter that much. It comes down to the art of delegation; you can't do everything yourself, so let someone else do as much as possible.

What that does is provides a healthy platform for your mind to work. If you have kids from many women do you think you would actually have time to innovate?

Being an ass in a productive way is not tolerating stupid people. In a large organization there are many of them, and being prickly keeps the idiots away if you do it right. It isn't about losing control, it is about creating space.

Innovation isn't about some magical apparition. It is about formulating a question. It is about seeing something that others don't.

Why do all the 'independent' thinkers all say the same thing?

According to experts, communists maybe be well on their way to seize power in America. https://orders.stansberryresearch.com/?cid=MKT417512&eid=MKT442047&assetId=AST123616&page=1

Marina Abramovic, born in 1946 and the queen of weird. Nothing in the post or comments comes close to Marina. She made weird into art.

Pick a weird sport and follow a team incessantly. A good list is https://www.topendsports.com/sport/unusual/list.htm. Bo Taoshi seems good. Talk about the standings and players at every social event. Wear the sports clothing. Travel to the games wherever they may be. Start a petition to organize the sport in your town!

Engage with a weird diet. This did wonders for Steve Job's legacy. Don't make it so weird that you actually harm yourself. Bring some food in for your office colleagues. Post photos of it on your social media platforms. It has to be weird though, like trout baked in shaved antler bread or something.

Get into a weird TV series. I incessantly rave about the show Happy https://www.syfy.com/happy which has put some distance between myself and people who though they knew me. This should be easy with all the media out there. Make it from some esoteric platform. Wear the swag. Drop quotes into conversations and act like everyone should know them.

Sign up with a little know social media site. Post to your other social media sites that everyone should join the little known one because (security, fun, free music,...). When you post on the little known one, post to the others that everyone should go and check out your post on the little known one but don't mention anything about the content of the post.

Swear alot and then get upset when other people swear around you.

“Adhere to a weird ideology.”

All current regulators believe that what bankers perceive as risky is more dangerous to bank systems than what bankers perceive as safe.

I believe the opposite. Does that make me weird?

http://subprimeregulations.blogspot.com/2019/03/my-letter-to-financial-stability-board.html

It is very simple to become a weirdo and maintain your profound weirdness: Believe in “ god” and shout out : “End is here and now !!“
Cheers to all “ god” loving weirdos !!

weird hobby: I have a friend who plays underwater hockey regularly.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underwater_hockey

At a deeper level, weird isn't menu-driven, as Dick the Butcher (weird name) points out. Weird can be the world's view of extreme authenticity, intellectual curiosity, charity, creativity, etc. So to stay weird in that sense, make sure your authentic impulses to depth are well-supported. When you get right down to it, nothing is weird, it just "is." Weird is just a social construct made up by those wishing to claim the mantle of "normal" for themselves and marginalize others. I'm contrasting, then, rebelling against a social construct (shallower) with authentic expression of self/genius/etc. (deeper and more useful).

Discover the world of weird and obsure music.
Keep in mind, the gold standard in this area of focus, is around 50 years old, that is, the album, "Trout Mask Replica"

So, where's the next "Trout Mask Replica"?

Independence, as much as possible! Grow your own food, make your own things and avoid the rest of the economy. Certainly stay away from a salary job. Barring all that, at least try and support yourself from your own business and/or investments, similar to the farmers of old. Is investing the last true liberal art?

I've done some of these "weird" things. Not for the purpose of being weird. Just because, well, they happened.

Some of them come with very high, long-term costs. It isn't clear to me that being weird is worth very much. I'm also not sure how they help you become an innovator. Maybe they do, maybe they don't.

I don't think weirdness and innovation are strongly correlated. Or put another way, maybe every innovator is a weirdo, but most weirdos aren't innovators.

If you are in academia, then you can become weird by being conservative, religious, and following sports. I think modern academics' almost complete divorce from these aspects of ordinary American life is part of why they were so stunned by Trumpism.

Another option is date or marry people much older than you. This is very high value. Older people are usually much more interesting and you will learn a lot. And usually the sex is better too.

Go for walks. This is still underrated in America where, with the exception of NYC and a few other places, seeing people just walking on the street is very rare. One location that is underrated for taking walks in America is cemeteries. They are unusually safe: robbers wouldn't stoop to mugging grave visitors. It's peaceful with trees and very quiet. And of course, you can meditate on death, which is always useful.

Use public transit as much as possible. For intercity travel, take buses instead of flights, if you have the time.

Make sure that your weirdness is channeled well, as Robin Hanson points out. Sometimes it might be best to be boring in most of the rest of your life, except in one.

Many American academics are obsessive about college football. It's stupid and annoying.

Read Al Jazeera, RT, The Intercept.

Hunter S. Thompson once said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

My extension of that: "When the weird turn pro, the pros learn to act weird."

I think you’re indulging a sort of psychological version of a cargo cult. “If I adopt certain superficial eccentricities, I’ll become an eccentric genius.” But wearing black turtlenecks doesn’t make you have anything in common with Steve Jobs, other than the turtleneck. If creative geniuses tend to be more eccentric, that’s probably because that’s just how they are, it’s not that the eccentricity caused their creativity.

Truly weird people don't try to be weird; most do not want to be weird; they struggle to understand what makes them seem weird to others.

Actively trying to be weird is not unlike trying to be woke, or trying to be bro', two common goals for college students. Nothing is more conformist than consciously trying to be a non-conformist. Everyone ends up trying to do it in the same way.

Weirdness comes naturally. We all have weird within us (some more than others), it is a natural tendency analogous to entropy. You do not need to cultivate weird by adopting suggestions from others. Be conscious and comfortable with yourself, your history, your beliefs. Act on your thoughts freely; avoid giving in to shame; go where your mind leads you, even though it may cost you in time, treasure, or respect in the community. Above all, be comfortable with failure and loss; know that you can pick yourself up. Conformity is mostly a manifestation of a fear of failure; nobody is afraid to be different if the difference is unusual success. Non-conformists (those regarded as weird) are comfortable with the failure and loss of reputation that comes from trying new and different things.

Paul McCartney's take on the subject:
https://genius.com/The-beatles-the-fool-on-the-hill-lyrics

Don't be weird. Be right.

1. NEVER hold an opinion or perform an act just in order to conform. That's weird rule No. 1, and never to be violated.
2. NEVER try to convince anyone about any opinion or way of living. Also a NEVER. Just don't do it, ok? Don't argue, just be content.
3. Live by the Golden Rule, and obey it as if your life depends on it. One day it probably will.
4. Always be polite and courteous. Don't retaliate, never mind that tit-for-tat is the winning strategy. Life is not a mathematical game.
Do all of this, and you will be one of maybe less than one percent of the population, i.e., a real weirdo. But people will love you anyway!

If your hair starts falling out, do everything weird that you can to keep it, until you look like a guy that if he got on a bus all the other people would feel uncomfortable and get off early.

One weird thing I do is go to the same gym for years but without ever having a membership. They never check mine for some reason. Same thing at movie theaters and college football games. I never have a ticket. The usher doesn't ask. At football games, I go through security but then the ticket collectors never both to ask me for my ticket. I've never had to make up a story or lie - and I would just walk out if they questioned me. I even bring a regular backpack at sporting events, not the see-through kind, and still they don't stop me. To top it off, I've brought in friends with me to the movies and football games and told them to just walk through, look normal (like you belong) and don't say anything - and it still works. I once snuck in 7 people into a college football game that was sold out. I can think of two reasons. The workers don't really care, and I am middle-aged, look shady, some would say intimidating.

So far I've only got a title - "55 Alive: Why Your Nation's Modicum of Dull Social Conformity Matters So Much More Than Your Own."

Weirdness comes from thinking about problems from first principles. There is no need to cultivate it.

Why do you want to be weird? There are lots of reasons for wanting to be weird. For example, you might like to sleep in, hate small talk or have a particular but not particularly popular problem that you want to work on. How follows from why.

As songwriter Arthur Freed said to Allen Jay Lerner, "You don't have to be different to be good. To be good is different enough."

Also: https://magiccarpetburn.blogspot.com/2010/06/mad-47-june-59-how-to-be-mad-non.html

Drink instant coffee. This alone will mark you as beyond redemption.

HA! I have done this my whole life. I was even thought crazy in the Army for not drinking from the coffee pot.

But strangely enough, this offers some insight into weirdness. I drink instant for two reasons:

1 - it is cheap!
2 - If you learn to like the bad stuff you will always be satisfied and the good stuff will be more refreshing when you have it.

Saving money and seeking happiness are two popular motivators. So why do people see this as weird. I suspect how I see instant coffee says much more about me than I think. And there are probably other things I do which I have never noticed that others see as weird but are never mentioned and can be attributed to the thought processes which drove me to be a lifelong drinker of instant coffee.

Which kind of wraps up this whole thread. The consensus seems to be that you cannot be purposefully weird and weird is organic, a state of being that vanishes the minute you try to capture it. It reminds me of a podcast on Econtalk. The quote being, "As a quantum analogy: love is like a “superposition”. If you try to measure it, it collapses into a totally different state." but instead of love you have weirdness. (https://www.econtalk.org/iain-mcgilchrist-on-the-divided-brain-and-the-master-and-his-emissary/)

+ Speak in King James. Use 'It is as it has been prophesied' in meetings. We are in one accord, and begetting ideas also works. Many other fantastic little opportunities for making this work.
+ Be aware of body language and test norms.
Turn the wrong way in elevators. If you're one of two people, don't stand at the other side - instead, stand close. In public buses, sit on the floor of the bus. Switch the side of the bed you usually sleep on. If you have a spouse/partner, you will need to get to bed first to establish dominance.
+ Take up a dead language.
+ Research and commit to an old god. attempt to establish a non-profit so that you can revive this old religion.
+ Mix the holidays. Dress in a Santa Claus suit on July 4th.
+ Commit to taking the best of 80s song lyrics and mix them into every-day life. Don't like that idea? Hall & Oates "But I can't go for that, no (no) no can do".
+ Openly admit to liking Jordan Peterson
+ Fully non-judgmentally engage in conversation with people unlike you
+ Go religion window-shopping. Every week, visit a different house a worship.

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