Our Most Popular Posts of 2014

The gargantuan SpaceX post is coming soon. In the meantime, here’s our 2014 end-of-year post with the year’s most popular posts.

Every year, the last few days of December are full of every site aggressively reviewing the year for us. It’s time to reflect, whether you like it or not.

Well fuck it—we’re a website, and it’s time to join the coercive reflection party.

2014 was a fun year for us at Wait But Why—we explored a bunch of new kinds of topics, took our first crack at making a store, launched a new way for readers to interact with the Dinner Table, and the summer travel series was definitely a thing that was a thing. On the personal side, my New Year’s resolution a year ago was “Next year, Tuesday means Tuesday” and then I proceeded to post on time between 0 and 2 times. Exciting year all around.

We posted a bunch of large and small things throughout the year on different parts of the site—but at the core were 35 big, long posts (you can find all of them in the Archive). So which of them did best?

Here are the ten most popular posts of 2014:

The Fermi Paradox – Scientists estimate that there are over 100,000 intelligent alien civilizations in our galaxy—but we never see evidence of anyone. Here are 13 reasons why.

Everything You Don’t Know About Tipping – Whenever you’re not sure what to tip someone, you risk ending up in the dreaded Ambiguous Tipping Situation. This post is here to help.

How to Pick Your Life Partner – Given that the choice of life partner is by far the most important thing in life to get right, how is it possible that so many good, smart, otherwise-logical people end up getting it so wrong?

Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think – We all care way too much what other people think of us. Here’s why it makes no sense.

The Great Perils of Social Interaction – It’s a tough world out there.

From Muhammad to ISIS: Iraq’s Full Story – If you’re not that clear on how Iraq, ISIS, or the conflicts within Islam came to be the way they are, this post will help.

Your Life in Weeks – Seeing all the weeks of your life in one chart is a weird experience.

10 Odd Friendships You’re Probably Part Of – When you’re young, you make friends kind of by accident. Then they stick. That’s why you’re now part of these 10 odd friendships.

Your Family: Past, Present, and Future – The past, present, and future of your family tree are all more fascinating than you realize.

A Religion for the Nonreligious – A post that tied together a bunch of the ideas we’ve discussed on the site.


And here are 2013’s Top Ten:

Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy
Why Procrastinators Procrastinate
Putting Time in Perspective
7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook
How to Name a Baby
20 Things I Learned in North Korea
10 Types of Single 30-Year-Old Guys
Creepy Kids in Creepy Vintage Ads
11 Awkward Things About Email
Life is a Picture, But You Live in a Pixel

  • Mya P.

    Looking forward to another year of posts and discussion. I especially enjoy the Dinner Table.

  • fliptherain

    Love what this blog has become. I wish I had more money to financially support you guys (even if that’s not all you care about, financial support is(?) important for the life of this blog). I’m just a poor college student, but do not worry. I’m a CS major so hopefully I can get a nice paying job and I’ll come back to support you guys even more. For now I will just keep showing all my friends and coworkers your blog and trying to tell more and more people about it.

  • Nawid N.

    What brought me here is the procrastination posts, but what kept me here is “A Religion for the Nonreligious”.

  • Serena Lommasson

    I think the first post I visited was the comic about why God’s depressed. A while ago.

  • The Fermi Paradox brought me here and I’ve been hopelessly procrastinating around the site ever since.

  • Roberto Lorenzo

    I think I can fairly say, without exaggerating, that since July 2014 that I found about this blog through The Fermi paradox by someone on facebook, I´ve come back every tuesday to read the new post and have read the Fermi Paradox like 8 times more…I just love it! Keep up the good work!

    • P


    • jay

      except not tuesday but more like thursday

  • consanguinity

    Seriously, I read ‘A Religion for the Non-Religious’ every time I feel down. It would be awesome if you created like a Bible for Truthism and sold it. It would be a best-seller!

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  • bill

    “A Religion for the Non-Religious”
    This article I came across by chance. This is how I discovered “waitbutwhy.com”. I was so impressed that I subscribed, forwarded, shared and donated. Now I am a true believer 🙂

    “Why Procrastinators Procrastinate” was also very smart, true and entertaining

  • Marko

    I can’t believe the only post of the odd things in odd places series that made it was the iraq one. All of them were great.

  • Disqo

    It’s a shame that the post “From 1,000,000 to Graham’s Number” didn’t make the top 10.

    I happened upon it by complete chance about 2 months ago, and my mind was absolutely blown!

    To start with, I had never experienced the joy that is this blog before, and was so impressed by the depth, readability, and overall unassumingness of that blog post! I was instantly hooked!

    During that magical read, I distinctly remember going “huh!” many times, “wow!!” even more times, laughing out loud in my room alone, feeling small, feeling big, and feeling speechless!

    I’m not a math head myself, but boy did I persist with that post, there simply was no stopping once you got started, I needed to know what the heck is Graham’s number and how friggin big is it exactly!!

    I was not let down!

    I figured I should post this comment here because new readers might browse posts only from the top 10 above, and I didn’t want anyone with a passing interest in the vastness of math and the universe to miss out on the same wonderful opportunity that was afforded to me!

    Keep up the good work WaitButWhy!

  • WBW

    The North Korea post brought me here and I’ve been here ever since. I loved the Iraq one too. It’s amazingly informative , stuff that I wouldnt have known otherwise.

  • skitsew

    discovered this site this morning…..havent done anything all day since but read the articles! Brilliant stuff x

  • wobster109

    Off topic, but don’t know where else this would go.

    Can you not give that email popup to people who are already on the email list? Please? I’m already on it. But it still comes up each time without fail, and it’s migrated to the middle of the screen.

    • Disqo

      I’m not 100% sure of this, but I think it’s very likely that they are using website cookies to store that information about you (i.e. that you actually provided your email).

      So, if you are clearing your cookies after each visit, or using Chrome incognito (which removes all cookies when you close the browser), or reading from different browsers/devices each time, then they have no way of keeping track that you have supplied your email already.

    • Tim Urban

      Dammit that’s not supposed to happen. There’s not a way for it to know who’s signed up and who hasn’t, but any given user isn’t supposed to see an email popup more than once or twice a month. We’ll try to figure out why it’s coming up every time.

      • Vinay Kapadia

        also have a way to say “don’t show again”. i don’t want to join the list. i do already have a way of seeing when you make new posts (i use your rss feed, its easier for me to manage all my lists than have a ton of emails). its kinda annoying to see this pop up, and no way of getting rid of it without putting in a fake emial or something so it goes away.

  • jay

    i first read the gummy bear one

  • felipealexander

    The very sad thing to say is though still there are many good,valuable and best posts like this, the students in the world are not having the eagerness to develop their knowledge in writing skills and also they don’t need to know about how to write a good essay because of this only most of the students in the world are not able to score more marks in essay writing category in all subjects.

  • mikes85

    “From a Million to Graham’s Number” should have topped this list. I’ve read it half a dozen times, and my mind is blown equally every single time.

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  • Pedro Ferraz

    I can’t say which one is my favourite.. but I’ll list some I like the most:

    – A Religion for the Nonreligious

    – The Fermi Paradox

    – What Makes You You?

    – The AI Revolution (both)

    – From 1 Million to Graham’s Number

    – How Religion Got in the Way

    – Your Life in Weeks

    – Putting Time in Perspective

    – Why is My Laptop On?

    – How to Pick Your Life Partner (both)

    – Meet Your Ancestors (All of Them)

    – Life is a Picture, But You Live in a Pixel

    – 4 Mind-Blowing Things About Stars

    – All procastination posts

  • Brian Fischman

    @timurban80:disqus I am a big fan, and as a fellow ADDer I can appreciate the struggle, but where is this SpaceX post? I live on the upper east side so maybe I’ll just start yelling really loud and you’ll hear my pain. Please feed us!

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