WaitButWhy.com (website)

Genius at work.

WaitButWhy.com is a content website, not a blog. Andrew Finn, one of the site’s three principal founders, wants that distinction to be clear. And I think he’s right to push for that clarification. Barely Conscious had never previously reviewed a website before this one, because it would probably go something like this : “Yelp is a worthless collection of obviously corrupted data. The End.” However, after I was referred to the site by the endorsement of an @DamienFahey tweet, Wait But Why has now provided the necessary cerebral blood rush of inspiration to pop that categorical cherry – and prompt a full on posting.

Wait But Why is a collection of articles primarily written by Tim Urban. The broad range of topics mean that one minute you are having your mind blown dissecting “The Fermi Paradox”, and the next, you find yourself learning “How to Name a Baby”. Tim has a keen interest in topics that intersect my own intellectual curiosities, which made me aggressively binge read every article on the site over the course of a week or so. It also inspired this Venn Diagram –

My handwriting and use of crayons is directly corellated to my EQ.

My handwriting and use of crayons is directly correlated to my EQ.

Tim finds clever ways to consolidate and package very complex topics for easier digestion through use of the best teaching tools available : stick figures, intermittent humor, and simple diagrams and graphs. People definitely learn and communicate best through simplified visual imagery peppered with some amusing analogies.


Sadly, the world might not even be on Step 1 yet.

I giggled and became sleep deprived reading article after article, squinting in bed on my ANI personal device. You’ll need to go here to understand what “ANI” is.  It was everything I wanted my site to be, and it was inspiring. I began to realize that this site was really similar in tone and spirit to Barely Conscious. There was one graph in particular that was staggeringly close to one that I published for my G.A.S. Index back in 2012.

Note the

Side by side comparison of the relative effort, depth, and quality of our websites. I lost, badly.


Even our senses of sarcasm and personality have some striking parallels. Except that Tim seems like he’s a lot less judgmental, more cultured, better at math, less angry, and generally a better writer than I am. Come to think of it, Tim is a full step or two up his consciousness staircase than I am. About the only areas I can hope to compete are soul-crushingly honest introspection, and mustering a couple of smirks in my handful of readers. But alas, this isn’t a competition. The point is to inspire and create conversation, and this very posting is a testament to the success of Tim’s efforts.

I feel like Tim and I share the same goals : Creating a channel to get people interested in often overlooked, important topics that directly impact them and the world around them. Then, to create a dialogue to generate more group think and awareness of the topic. The subjects chosen are often ones people rarely discuss because either people never heard about them in the first place, or the time they did hear about the subject, it was presented via a terrible delivery system(e.g. a terrible teacher or immensely dry text-book). Also, these are topics that most people typically have no time to dedicate to thinking about. This is because most people are mired down in the ever-increasing bureaucracy, and bombardment of mindless distractions that define our modern lives.

Example of a distraction. (Jerkcity.com)

Example of a distraction. (Jerkcity.com)

Perhaps Aristotle and Einstein would have never concocted their greatest achievements if they had access to endless loops of epic nut shot fails on their iPhone, and had to juggle 3 shitty jobs to pay off their student loans. Or, perhaps they would have fared way better. Actually using the internet as a tool to exponentially advance their knowledge base – thus, spawning even more robust revelations. While I sit here as merely a feeble, drooling mammal trying to psychologically justify my raging porn addiction and profound inadequacies.

Wait But Why is a great place to go for the ultimate in perspective on our universe. That’s a general theme on the site, zooming all the way out on our overwhelmingly myopic view of life, so that we can better understand where we actually stand. This can be a scary trip for some. But, I submit it’s worth the journey to achieve that higher level of consciousness, and to become a more informed and empathetic individual.

Overall Rating :   10/10

– JA