Detection by happenstance

In such cases, when he could not follow the train of the reasonable, he coldly and carefully followed the train of the unreasonable. Instead of going to the right places – banks, police stations, rendezvous – he systematically went to the wrong places; knocked at every empty house, turned down every cul de sac, went up every lane blocked with rubbish, went round every crescent that led him uselessly out of the way. He defended this crazy course quite logically. He said that if one had a clue this was the worst way; but if one had no clue at all it was the best, because there was just the chance that any oddity that caught the eye of the pursuer might be the same that had caught the eye of the pursued. Somewhere a man must begin, and it had better be just where another man might stop.

Chesterton, The Blue Cross

Projects

People sometimes mistake their own shortcomings for those of society and want to fix the cities because they don’t know how to fix themselves.

— Asimov

The trial

In most cases, the best strategy for a job interview is to be fairly honest, because the worst thing that can happen is that you won’t get the job and will spend the rest of your life foraging for food in the wilderness and seeking shelter underneath a tree or the awning of a bowling alley that has gone out of business.

— Lemony Snicket

Moral fashions

Although moral fashions tend to arise from different sources than fashions in clothing, the mechanism of their adoption seems much the same. The early adopters will be driven by ambition: self-consciously cool people who want to distinguish themselves from the common herd. As the fashion becomes established they’ll be joined by a second, much larger group, driven by fear. This second group adopt the fashion not because they want to stand out but because they are afraid of standing out.

— Paul Graham, What You Can’t Say

The bright side

There are people who ponder about their friends’ shortcomings: there’s nothing to be gained by that. I have always been on the lookout for the merits of my opponents, and this has been rewarding.

— Goethe