People love tips. A list of tips is the easiest way to make the front page of Digg, attract dozens of back links, and acquire hordes of RSS subscribers. The tips don’t even need to be new or insightful, they just need to make sense and cover an interesting topic. Who doesn’t enjoy useful information in an easily digestible format?

The problem with tips is that they’re too delicious. People become obsessed with prepackaged information nuggets and stop thinking for themselves. When an article focuses on theory, no matter how brilliant it is, people complain that the information isn’t “useful”. The definition of “useful” has become so narrow that it only includes information that applies directly to a concrete problem. This reluctance to master and apply conceptual knowledge is a symptom of intellectual laziness.

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I think in today’s world, people are just too rushed to think by themselves. We are trained from young to focus on the results, through the formal education system, and because of that, “theory” isn’t that well liked, because it has no immediate results. Even in school, where the main aim is supposed to be learning, you find students clamoring for tips in order to do well in their exams.

In a society where the immediacy is so highly valued, ideas or articles that don’t give immediate results aren’t sought after. As Chris Honore said in his TED Talk, “Even things which are by their very nature slow, we try to speed them up too.”

Learning, the pursuit of knowledge, is a slow process. It comes with trying and failing. It comes with taking the time to question things. The world, and life as well, is complex, and it takes time to think through things. Speeding it up won’t work.