Derek Sivers
book cover

Useful Not True

Want early access?

Just get on my email list.


  1. Definitions of “true” and “useful”
  2. To reframe, first remove the existing frame

Almost nothing people say is true

  1. What time is it?
  2. No picture is the whole picture
  3. Evidence is not proof
  4. Explanations are invented
  5. The past is not true
  6. Memories are not accurate
  7. The future is what we call imagination
  8. People share perspectives, not facts
  9. Needy, stubborn, inappropriate flirt
  10. Obligations are not true
  11. Rules mean it’s a game that can change.
  12. Explanations help empathy
  13. Cultural meanings
  14. Alien surveillance

Your thoughts aren’t true

  1. That was about you, not them
  2. River, Accent, You are the strange one
  3. Hearts can be hacked
  4. You can’t trust your mind
  5. Make believe
  6. Beliefs are not facts
  7. The more emotional the belief, the less likely it’s true
  8. Override your instincts with wisdom

Ideas are useful, not true

  1. What is “the truth” really for?
  2. A daily run and imagination
  3. Beliefs → emotions → actions
  4. What’s the point of belief?
  5. Religion is action not belief
  6. Carpenters’ toolbox
  7. Judge the contents, not the box
  8. Your ten million dollars
  9. The doctor and the healing cat statue
  10. Which side of the story works for you?
  11. It shows what you need to believe
  12. Life is _______
  13. AI characters learning to walk
  14. Even science isn’t true
  15. Philosophies are instruments

Find better perspectives

  1. Reframe
  2. A great detective goes beyond the obvious
  3. Questions to start
  4. Keep a big toolbox of perspectives
  5. Curve into the target
  6. Re-edit your mind’s movies
  7. What got me here won’t get me there
  8. Get away from humanity to remember what’s real

Adopt what works for you

  1. You can’t help the way you feel?
  2. Adopt the thought for you for now
  3. Private journal to internalize it
  4. Talk with friends to solidify it
  5. Take the first step immediately
  6. You are what you pretend to be
  7. Keep tuning and adjusting


  1. Useful not through

More books on this subject