The Power of Embracing Disorder and Independent Thinking


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 30, 2023

3 min read


The Power of Embracing Disorder and Independent Thinking


In a world that values order and conformity, there is often a tendency to dismiss the benefits of disorder and independent thinking. However, by embracing a certain degree of messiness and challenging established ideas, we can unlock new levels of creativity and intellectual growth. This article explores the upside of disorder and the importance of independent thinking, drawing insights from two thought-provoking sources: "Embrace the Mess: The Upside of Disorder" by Farnam Street and "How Philosophers Think" by David Perell.

The Productivity Myth:

We are often led to believe that being organized and tidy is the key to increased productivity. However, research has shown that this may not always be the case. Farnam Street's article challenges the notion that order is always beneficial, highlighting a study that reveals people who relied on folders took longer to find what they were looking for. On the other hand, those who embraced a more chaotic system, such as dumping all their emails into an "archive" folder, found their emails more quickly. This suggests that there is a natural tendency towards a pragmatic system of organization based on the principle of usefulness. In certain situations, it may be more advantageous to embrace messiness rather than striving for perfect order.

The Creative Power of Disorder:

Contrary to popular belief, disorder can actually enhance certain types of creativity. Farnam Street suggests that creativity thrives in situations that are beyond our control, as it requires us to be alert and closely observe how things unfold. This aligns with David Perell's perspective on how philosophers think. He explains that philosophers approach ideas by deconstructing them into atomic elements and then reconstructing them in new and innovative ways. By challenging established frames and oscillating between radical extremes, philosophers engage ideas in intellectual combat, pushing them to their logical conclusions. This disruptive and messy approach to thinking allows for the emergence of fresh insights and innovative solutions.

The Power of Independent Thinking:

Perell's article delves into the significance of independent thinking and its role in shaping our understanding of the world. He argues that true understanding comes not from memorizing ideas, but from exploring the roads earnestly explored and ultimately rejected. By critically examining the premises and frames of ideas, rather than focusing solely on conclusions, we can develop a deeper comprehension and a more nuanced perspective. Moreover, Perell emphasizes the importance of holding two opposing ideas in mind simultaneously, as this fosters a deeper understanding of complex issues. By challenging the status quo and engaging in thoughtful, independent reasoning, we can contribute to progress and the pursuit of truth.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace a degree of messiness: Instead of obsessing over perfect order, consider allowing for some chaos in your organizational systems. Experiment with different approaches and find what works best for you. Remember that usefulness should be the guiding principle rather than rigid structure.
  • 2. Challenge established frames: When encountering new ideas or concepts, take the time to critically examine their underlying premises and assumptions. By questioning the frame, rather than accepting conclusions at face value, you can gain a deeper understanding and uncover new insights.
  • 3. Practice independent thinking: Cultivate the habit of thinking for yourself and resist the temptation to adopt the opinions of prestigious individuals or conform to socially approved beliefs. Engage in intellectual exploration, oscillating between different perspectives and pushing ideas to their logical extremes. This will enable you to develop a more well-rounded and independent perspective.


In a world that often values order and conformity, it is essential to recognize the power of embracing disorder and independent thinking. By challenging established frames, engaging in intellectual combat, and oscillating between radical extremes, we can unlock new levels of creativity and gain a deeper understanding of the world. Embracing messiness and cultivating independent thinking are not easy tasks, but they are essential for personal growth and the advancement of society. So, let us dare to be messy, to think independently, and to stretch the boundaries of our knowledge.

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