Very Secure

The Galileo Complex

While reading about the psychology of "climate change denial" I came across the idea of a Galileo Complex - a feeling of superiority that comes from holding contrarian beliefs. When one has a Galileo Complex, they necessarily believe that which goes against the Cathedral's Official Truths, just as Galileo did in his time. Share one of those contrarian beliefs at a dinner party, and the Galileo Complex will be fed as one's "statements of logic" are met with "persecution" via others' "emotion-based arguments."

The man with the Galileo Complex walks through the streets with a smug grin, feeling himself above others because he knows truths - USD inflation is more than 2% per annum, bitcoin is sound money, evidence for impending-doom via man-made global warming is poppycock/cherry-picked for political purposes, the risk of death has not changed because of the covid pandemic, taxation is theft, democracy is rule by the mob, updating software does not mean improving software, etc. etc.

I'm guilty of this Galileo Complex myself.1 Even if the stances I hold are true,2 this Galileo shit does not serve me. It only exists to feed the ego lacking of gratification from meaningful accomplishment. In the end what matters is what one has done, not the beliefs they held.

  1. And boy was I more guilty before Diana Coman helped "draw myself out before my eyes" via her younghands project. []
  2. Which in all cases is debatable, I mean if other people are duped all the time then why should I think that I am not being duped as well? []

10 Responses to “The Galileo Complex”

  1. Adam Thorsen says:

    Holding Bitcoin is doing something though. It's not discovering planets, but it's something.

  2. Thanks for writing this.

    So now, wut do ? Revive block explorer ?

  3. whaack says:

    Just holding bitcoin is more a lack of doing something bad - i.e. selling the bitcoins. The good action was only the moment of working for and then buying them.

    If one's contribution to the world is merely holding bitcoins then at that point where one decides to "just hold" he may as well drop dead - that'd be the best case as it would guarantee he held forever.

  4. whaack says:


    Yup, that's one of the first tasks. A preliminary task is fixing up my development station, I'm still stuck in a situation where I am more comfortable on my 'tolietbox' than on my dev comp I put together a while ago.

  5. Nice, good luck with the computer set up.

  6. Adam Thorsen says:


    Holding Bitcoin through a 400 -> 20,000 -> 3,000 market, for example, is not a passive thing for the living. It is a form of risk taking, just as investing in a startup is risk taking and generally not viewed as passive, and it is why those who successfully pulled it off are rich if they weren't already, and those who didn't are poorer than they would have been otherwise. Over time, risk decreases, and correspondingly so does the merit and reward of holding Bitcoin.

  7. whaack says:

    @ Adam Thorsen

    HODLing is doing something good (at least in terms of the price of btc), no matter the mindset of the HODLer, no dispute there. However, there are some people contributing in this way simply because they cannot figure out how to send their bitcoin or they just kinda forgot about it. Whether or not a majority of bitcoin is kept off the books because they are lost/have dead owners doesn't really matter in terms of price, apart from potentially being correlated with how much demand there is for bitcoin.

    I know that it is *something* to be holding bitcoin, but I don't hold that much, and I would like to contribute something a little more than making a microscopic dent in the price.

  8. I find one specific overstatement in what you've written:

    "When one has a Galileo Complex, they necessarily believe that which goes against the Cathedral's Official Truths, just as Galileo did in his time."

    The implication, which you probably did not intend to make, is that Galileo himself had such a complex; and the impression, which I received from one of his biographies, is that the bulk of his research was aimed at being outside of the areas covered by official doctrines, and he only ran afoul of the Inquisition due to including, in one of his published works, extrapolations from his scientific findings that obviously contradicted doctrines. He could probably have escaped infamy and remained some minor scientific nobody, completely unknown outside of the occasional history of physics, if he hadn't argued against the Church instead of metaphorically waving his research in the Pope's face.

  9. whaack says:

    I didn't mean to imply that Galileo himself had this complex. He just held some beliefs that went against the well-accepted truths, a condition necessary but not sufficient for the described complex.

    I have not read Galileo nor do I know much about his life, other than what is said about him in pop culture. Did not know that he actually did the majority of his research in uncontroversial topics/fields, but that is not so surprising either. Thanks for the info.

  10. Jacob Welsh says:

    Eh, the next paragraph made it perfectly clear that the Complex is about the smug grin and runaway feedback loop rather than the contrarian beliefs per se which were all that was ascribed to Galileo himself.

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