Lindy Effect

The idea that the future life expectancy of some non-perishable things like a technology or an idea is proportional to their current age, so that every additional period of survival implies a longer remaining life expectancy.

Hype Cycle

The experience of any new technology over time where its inception generates inflated hype, followed in turn by disillusionment, and finally back up to a renewed but realistic opportunity.


The Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with powder of a precious metal. The repair is seen as part of the object's delightful history and not something to hide.

Cobra Effect

An attempted solution to a problem actually makes the problem worse.

Maslow's Hammer

The over-reliance on a particular tool simply because that tool is either more immediately available or because it's more familiar.

Marshmallow Test

A purported connection between self-regulation and long-term positive outcomes, where the ability to forego immediate rewards is evidence of a discipline that serves in many other beneficial areas of life.


To knowingly present false information to someone, making them doubt their own observations, memory, and self-trust.

Yak Shaving

The process of performing a series of tasks (often nested inside completing other tasks, like side quests) to accomplish a goal, each of which seems necessary in context but becomes less and less linked to the original goal.

Dunning-Kruger Effect

The phenomenon that unskilled people assess their ability at a task to be much higher than it is, and that highly skilled individuals often underestimate their own abilities.

Fermi Problem

A rough calculation to arrive at a reasonable estimate — unknowns and all — where the result could be considered logically approximate.

Butterfly Effect

The idea that a very small action can eventually lead to a significant difference to a system — such as a butterfly flapping its wings which eventually accumulates weeks later into a hurricane.

Overton Window

Range of ideas tolerated in public discourse, according to current climates that will tend to exclude extreme perspectives.

Reasoning from First Principles

A thought process that breaks down complex systems to their most basic, self-evident assumptions, and then building step-by-step from these granular pieces to a logical whole.

Simpson's Paradox

A problem in statistics where trends appear in different groups of data but disappear (or even reverse) when these groups are combined.


A probabilistic rate of decay where the quantity of something is reduced by half. Used most often in physics to describe the exponential decay of radioactive elements.

Black Swan Event

A metaphor that describes an event in history that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is normalized after the fact.

Hanlon's Razor

The aphorism which reminds us to never attribute to malice something that can simply be explained by incompetence.


To understand something so completely that it becomes a part of oneself.

NIMBY - Not in My Back Yard

An attitude of opposition to development projects in one's community. While defended as Jane Jacob's-style neighborhood preservation, it can often be used to safeguard expensive real-estate, maintain "aesthetics", and perpetuate social inequality.


Japanese for 'reason for being' — a relationship of the values and features that make life worthwhile for an individual, incorporating passion, mission, profession, and vocation.

Ikea Effect

The exaggeratedly high value and attachment placed on products that one builds themselves, regardless of the end result quality.

Peter Principle

The idea that employees rise to the rank just beyond their competency, as they are evaluated on performance to their current role and not their intended one — at which point they cease to be promoted.

Imposter Syndrome

The idea (and fear) that one will be exposed as a 'fraud' in their position or for their accomplishments, even in the face of objective evidence to the contrary.

FOMO - Fear of Missing Out

An apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent.

Drake Equation

A probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.

Adjacent Possible

A mapping of possibilities in a present circumstance that captures both the immediate limits as well as the creative potential for change and innovation.


Recognizing the phenomenon that all of us see the world through our own tinted lenses which we are largely ignorant in our wearing of them. To those with similar lenses (cultures), we have a sense of familiarity and safety, while with others we feel detached and afraid.


An object or system's properties that show the possible actions that can take be taken with it, thereby suggesting how they may interact with that system or object. For example, a button can look as if it needs to be turned or pushed, those characteristics communicating its affordances.

Desire Line

An unofficial path created as a consequence of active use caused by heavy traffic, usually representing the shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination. Desire lines can be physical paths as well as paths to achieving particular outcomes in a system usability context (such as navigating websites or using a smartphone).

Hero's Journey

One of the most common mythological templates that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.


A situation found in chess and other games wherein one player is put at a disadvantage because they must make a move when they would prefer to pass and not move.

Field of Dreams Fallacy

The notion that, "if you build it, they will come" where all that's needed to do is to simply produce a product and the market will beat a path to one's door, without considering the economic, political, cultural, and entrepreneurial effort and luck at play.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A systematic approach to estimating the strengths and weaknesses of alternatives that satisfy transactions, activities or functional requirements.


Unintended side effects (can be good or bad) to those not involved.

Doris Day Effect

The notion that a setback or obstacle on a given path provides an opportunity for another path that in turn becomes potentially much more fruitful.


The symbol and idea of a snake eating its own tail, often interpreted as a cycle of rebirth and renewal.

Matthew Effect

The old adage "for to him who has, will more be given..." — that those with existing status, privilege, wealth, etc. stand to benefit even more from it, compared to those without starting resources. In other words,"the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."


The practice of acquiring books but letting them pile up without reading them.

Pareto Principle

The observation that for many situations, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

Phenomenon in which people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours.

Streisand Effect

The phenomenon where an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of content has the unintended consequence of drawing more attention to that content.

Kobayashi Maru

A training exercise in the Star Trek universe designed to test cadets in a no-win scenario. Captain Kirk 'wins' by altering the original conditions of the game — seen either as cheating or creative problem-solving.

Tinkerbell Effect

The idea that the more you believe in something, the more it becomes a reality (and when you stop believing in something, it ceases to exist).

Dark Pattern

A user interface that has been intentionally designed to trick or deceive user activity, wherein they purchase goods or sign-up for an unwanted service.

Survivorship Bias

A focus on the examples that survive some process while accidentally overlooking those that did not survive — because they are no longer visible.

Predator Satiation

An adaptation in which prey briefly occur at high population densities which overwhelms and satisfies predators thereby reducing the probability of an individual prey being eaten. The most notable example of this are the periodic cicadas.


The tendency to give disproportionate weight to trivial issues of a larger or more complex project. In other words, prioritizing something easy to grasp or and/or is debatable.