One day I ran across a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald that haunted me: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” After reading that quote, my mind went into orbit. All kinds of questions revolved around in my head:
Did that mean that there was no such thing as a perfect decision or proper point-of-view?
Did that mean that I should think of light as both a wave and particle?
Did that mean bad things could happen with great ideas?
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
Over time, the answers became more apparent: Sometimes, good people do bad things. Smart people have a few wacky ideas. Bad people do some useful things. Even good decisions have downsides. Light is both a wave and particle.
Those are some of the implications of Fitzgerald’s famous quote. At the core of his insight is the ability to embrace uncertainty by acknowledging reasonable differences, while still moving forward. This book describes a simple tool to do just that by cultivating clear thinking and hopefully, first-rate intelligence.