## Was it routine site maintenance or censorship at FastCoDesign?

Why delete reader comments? On April 13, 2015, FastCoDesign.com took a stand on design with an article by John Brownlee titled “The Golden Ratio: Design’s Biggest Myth – The Golden Ratio is Total Nonsense in Design. Here’s Why.” (Find article here.) By the end of June 2015, the article had hundreds of comments from readers, almost entirely negative, as readers expressed their anger, disappointment and frustration at the ignorance, inaccuracies and bias in the poorly researched and lamely written article.

And then all the comments just disappeared!

Descriptions of the article used by readers included “appalling, sensationalist, dangerous, stupid, under-informed nonsense, an exercise in ignorance and conceit, seething with misinformation, misleading, utter nonsense, profound ignorance, lame, entirely incorrect, click bait, what a troll, simplistic, naive, puerile, opinionated, unsophisticated, boring, fallacious, disappointment, disservice, irrational, ill thought out, dismissive, vitriolic nonsense, the dumbest article on FastcoDesign, a perfect example of total crap journalism and DERP,” just to name a few.

Why? See my analysis of the FastCoDesign article here for starters, and then comments from others below.

## Readers “disappointed by the sensationalist tone and bias.” Even “dangerous.”

As described in the article’s first new comment posted on July 2, 2015 by

At one point this article had hundreds of comments (since deleted?). Many were from a design community readership disappointed by the author’s sensationalist tone and the confirmation bias demonstrated by the examples cited. Here’s a counterpoint, from a designer (me) who uses visual harmonies in their work all the time:

Darrin Crescenzi is a designer based in New York City. He is Design Director of Innovation at Interbrand New York, frequently quoted in FastCo Design as an authority on design and one of Fast Company magazine’s 100 Most Creative People in Business.

His excellent article, “Why the Golden Ratio matters. In defense of using visual harmonies in Design” states this about the FastoCo Design article by John Brownlee:

“It is a bit of writing that is

at best unnecessary and sensationalist;At worst, coming from a content platform that has rapidly risen to the forefront of design discourse, it is dangerous. That may sound like a severe over-reaction, but here’s my concern: As the design field expands, many design education programs have replaced fundamental tenets of visual communication — things like semiotics, gestalt theory of composition, typesetting — in favor of teaching software and topical survey-like classes. I worry that many inexperienced or aspiring designers are ill-equipped to parse intelligent design discourse fromunder-informed nonsense.So while it’s certainly not necessary to defend the use of mathematical constants in design, and at the risk of giving an inane piece of writing more exposure than it deserves, I am compelled to put out

a point of view on the piece on behalf of designers the article claims don’t exist — those who apply visual harmonies, especially the Golden Ratio, on a near-daily basis — in hopes that other designers can learn something about the importance of mathematics in visual design.Why take this on? I’m a daily reader of Fast Company and FastCo Design. Full disclosure,

I have been quoted in their publication as an authority on design-related topics and been named to their Most Creative People in Business list.Their hugely influential role in informing the broader public’s understanding of Design is no small part in my compulsion to pen this rant.As a designer and frequent reader I have expectations for design discourse that are loftier than click-baiting hot takes. Apparently so do others in the readership, based on activity in the article’s comment feed.“

The Huffington Post also rebutted Brownlee and Devlin in an article titled “The Rectangle is Still Golden” by architect Lance Hosey, author of The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology and Design among other books.

## The deleted comments: Where is the credibility, integrity and accountability in journalism?

Did all the comments disappear from FastCo Design because of normal site maintenance, or was this deliberate censorship to cover up the overwhelmingly negative response to an embarrassing, tabloid-style piece of journalism? As of this writing, articles by Brownlee on FastCoDesign written at earlier dates still had comments showing.

Ironically, the FastCo Design About page proclaims “Controversies are front and center here, alongside great designers speaking their minds in blog posts and comments.” So why then were they deleted?

If FastCo Design has any real expertise in design, the article shouldn’t have been published in the first place. If they have integrity and accountability, the negative comments should all remain rather than all being deleted less than three months after the article was published, while the article climbs to the top of Google rankings because of the fervent, negative response from its readers. If they have credibility, they’ll print a retraction and provide readers with an intelligent, balanced, constructive presentation based on interviews with those who actually know something about the golden ratio and its applications.

## The readers deserve to have their views expressed.

It would be a shame to lose all that the readers wrote in response to this article. Some lasted less than two weeks before being deleted. Perhaps FastCo will restore them. Fortunately, Archive.org takes regular snapshots of most sites on the Internet and on 8 dates recorded many of the 281 total comments shown as of June 27. Over 200 of them are presented below. You’ll learn more about the golden ratio from these, and from Crescenzi’s rebuttal article on Medium.com, than from the article itself.

These first comments ten below I had copied without names for my response to the article. The remainder are taken directly from the Archive.org Internet Wayback Machine with names and approximate dates.

“The golden ratio is to design as “fair and balanced” is to writing; it’s a guideline that helps make the outcome pleasing. Of course, these guidelines can be ignored (and often are) at your own peril.”

“Silly, snarky piece. … The cherry-picked testimonials to the golden section’s irrelevance are laughable.”

“This article is silly, and interviewing mathematicians about the “formula to beauty” is ridiculous.”

“This is why peer editing is still a good idea. The author should have found an actual educated person and said “does this article make me look and sound like a complete dips#!t?”…. To which the properly educated person would have said “why yes, of course!”

“Shouldn’t Devlin have written this article? Brownlee was basically his ghostwriter quoting him at every turn to espouse some bitter math professor’s long time frustrations with creatives.”

“This article is misleading and utter nonsense. The author clearly has no idea what he’s talking about. His boldness can’t hide a profound ignorance about design and creative processes. There´s no “myths” in Design… there´s just tools and methodologies that some of us may or may not use depending on the specifications of a project. As someone else pointed out, this article is just a cry for attention from someone beating a dead horse thinking it´s a sacred cow. FastCo might get “views” and “likes” out of articles like this but you’re not going to recover the trust of many of us… as we say in Spain “pan para hoy, hambre para mañana” (bread for today, hunger for tomorrow). Appalling stuff.”

“This is a bit “sensationalist” way of saying designers don’t use the Golden Mean. Of course you don’t. At some point your eye has learned the kind of ratios, proportions and relationships that work. It’s both false and lazy to not research and discuss design work that does lean heavily on classical ratios. It’s also a little preposterous to exclaim only 2 people every said the this ratio was meaningful and then only present 2-3 people who say it isn’t meaningful. … The fact that your journalism is sort of s#!t, or that your ability to form a reasonable argument is questionable is a disappointment and a disservice to your readers.”

“The attitude of this article is so puerile.”

“Is this argument like saying we can never draw a circle – a circle doesn’t exist because pi is irrational…or the diagonal of a square can’t exist because square root 2 is irrational ? .. your argument is irrational and ill thought out … total BS”

“I imagine the reason for the headline is to be provocative but I’m guessing that Mr. Brownlee has never put pen to paper other than to write something for if he’d tried his hand at design he’d have found the golden ratio and other such ratios to be endlessly inspiring. I’ve used them in my buildings for as long as I can remember and the results, I hope, speak for themselves. Seewww.avery-architects.co.uk However, if you are really interested in the subject do read my article in the Architectural Review dated 1992 (which is on the website under ‘News’ – ‘2013 January’ – ‘New book’ – Wilderness City’ – Look inside the book’ pp 95-102). It sets out another basis for the golden ratio – that it’s in the structure of the eye and therefore Beauty really is in the Eye of the Beholder. Bryan Avery”

PABLODALIEN – JUN 25, 2015

You should do better research before and get your facts straight. Dali´s painting was done using the golden ratio but it was not based on the rectangle. It was based on a dodecahedron which you can clearly see in the painting.JESSE WALLIS – JUN 22, 2015

What kind of stupid mathematician thinks that if a number is irrational it’s impossible to find in reality? The diagonal of a square is a good example. Square root of 2 is an irrational number, yet we find it in reality all the time.MIKE AKERS – JUN 22, 2015

Maps aren’t 100% accurate scale representations of real geographical features, but they do approach 100% closely enough to be useful in navigating them. Likewise Pi and Phi calculations don’t have to be accurate past a certain number of decimals to get the job done. Just because we can’t make something perfectly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bother. After all, Perfect is the enemy of good.TOBY KNIGHT – JUN 21, 2015

This article, instead of being illuminating, is more an exercise by the author in ignorance and conceit. Mr. Bownlee blather is a classic straw-man argument: He raises the golden ratio to some mythical importance with trivial arguments then tears down his own weak evidence as proof. The golden ratio is one of many complex numbers that has an emergent pattern that people are attracted to. Pi, the number that calculates a circle, is just as “irrational” as the golden ratio, but you wouldn’t call circles a myth. Likewise, the ratio that is the diagonal of a square is irrational. The fact that people seek pattern and meaning around them is precisely why the golden ratio, circles, pascal’s triangle and MC Escher’s entire body of works is “pleasing”. If you are going to throw out the golden ratio and call it a myth, you are going to also have to throw out all rules of design like symmetry, harmony, repetition and tessellation. It seems obvious to me that the author just doesn’t like math.WANLANSERVICEMAN – JUN 21, 2015

The golden ratio has nothing to do with observational aesthetics. It is a mathematical truth represented in fractal symmetry throughout the physical universe. Nature has used it in design, not because it looks good, but rather it is a consequence of the topological math of the universe at every scale it FUNCTIONS best.RYAN BERRYMAN – JUN 19, 2015

I think it’s much harder to product something whose length is rational in the real world — irrational is much more common – infinitely more common, in fact.AMAN THETHY – JUN 18, 2015

The Golden Ratio may not be as important or necessary as some people make it out to be, but its definitely not as unimportant or as unnecessary as you’ve made it seem.PETER TANG – JUN 18, 2015

I use Fibonacci’s formula on my layouts and they work and look perfect!!! The “Golden Ratio” calculation seems to generate a much wider rectangle, which for me, looks a little off balance…EDUARDO KLEIN FICHTNER – JUN 17, 2015

Fake??? Try with your credit card! 😀 Golden Ratio!!!ALBERT J. BROWN – JUN 17, 2015

Wow, this is the kind of article that gets produced when the author knows little of his subject matter and is desperately trying to get random and shallow pieces of misunderstood information to support a pre-existing bias.GABRIEL MASCIOLI – JUN 17, 2015

This article is seething with misinformation. The golden ratio is not only relevant, it defines nature. There is really nothing to argue about. This is fact.YOYO – JUN 15, 2015

Has T.L. Glover showed up yet?ANDREW THIVYANATHAN – JUN 15, 2015

And you can also construct right triangles, for which either the hypotenuse or the two legs must be irrational (with a factor of root-2).ANDREW THIVYANATHAN – JUN 15, 2015

Not true, or at least, it’s not impossible, as the author implies. The concept he missed is that such figures cannot be precisely measured with a real-world ruler. However, you could definitely construct perfect circles.GARR GODFREY – JUN 15, 2015

Whether a number is rational or not has no bearing on how close we can get to the exact number. You can make a wall 7 feet long, but can you make it 7.000000000000000 feet long? Maybe in a lab with the right material and equipment. Then what about 7.000000000000000000000000000000000000000 feet long? The matter of precision is independent of the number you are trying to achieve.THEONLYATN – JUN 13, 2015

This article is lame. The author’s premise is entirely incorrect. Just because a number is irrational doesn’t mean it can’t occur in the real world. If that were true, then circles and spheres wouldn’t occur in the real world either since both of them depend on the irrational number Pi. So, unless the author is going to state those are bullshit, too, he’s pretty much wrong.FLOYD ALSBACH – JUN 12, 2015

Perhaps I might recommend Godel, Escher, Bach, an Eternal Golden Braid by Hofstadter (sp?) or Matila Ghyka’s “The Geometry of Art and Life.” I might also recommend a series of European academic discussions which ended in 2010 called “Scienar” which were about the intimate relationship between Science and Art. There were two (maybe more I may have forgotten) academic meetings about a year apart, one in Bucharest and one in Calabria Italy as I recall. Full disclosure, one of the presenters, Samoila Gheorghe, used some of my abstract work as examples.JESSE KNOTT – JUN 12, 2015

I cant figure out if this is supposed to be satire, or someone proving that even smart people can be complete idiots? So if “Strictly speaking, it’s impossible for anything in the real-world to fall into the golden ratio, because it’s an irrational number,” to quote the article, then explain circles, and spheres to me? or is he only picking on equations below his IQ?JESSE KNOTT – JUN 12, 2015

Strictly speaking it’s impossible for anything to fall into the ratio since it’s an irrational number Glad we don’t have anything to worry about like circles or spheres to look at…JACOB SMITH – JUN 12, 2015

Nerds be like…(insert something so long and meticulously thought over and throw prose out the window. Understanding you guys isn’t the trouble it’s sorting through the BS gathered from the depths of your suppressed emotion and psychotic impulses. really truthfully i just feel more and more stupid the longer I read your comments or rather I feel more effective in my use of words. I wonder what you guys would say to doing simple tasks. I am never playing twenty questions with any of you. One my head would explode; Two it would take a half hour per question… no hard feeling i’m just bored out of my mind.PATRICK FARLEY – JUN 12, 2015

Draw a bunch of rectangles on a piece of paper with differing dimensions including one rectangle which is a golden rectangle. Poll a group of people on which of the rectangles they find the most pleasing. The majority will have chosen the golden rectangle. Science.NIGELREADING|ASYNSIS – JUN 5, 2015

TED would demur on WIRED’s article too. Seems they’re going for plausible deniability by doing it Onion-style anyway. 🙂 Looking exclusively at only Spatial interpretations are so last century anyway. But does that also mean the entire repertoire of plant phyllotaxis is an illusion? Plants are telling us something, we need to think harder about the Temporal, thermodynamics and morphogenesis, as Alan Turning did in his last research on the Fibonacci series, phyllotaxis and morphogenesis before he tragically died. What the sciences of complexity and dynamical systems have been sharing recently though is that the golden ratio is one of several optimal, analogical geometric signatures of how nature evolves emergent complexity most easily – over time. Here’s how I Tweet it: #Asynsis #DaoOfDesign on #TED at #TEDxWanchai #HongKong. A New, Extremely Lean, Mean (#Design) #TheoryOfEverything http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Form-follows-flow-%7C-Nigel-Readi;search %3ANigel%20ReadingKAI BYROADE – JUN 4, 2015

I believe the only true thing of value in this article is Devlin’s quotes, which back up why the former often saw 1.6 in the human body. Humans look for patterns–one of the most simple design philosophies any great designer would know. If 1.6 is your Module for your design, power to you. It will certainly look a lot less “man-made” than splitting things evenly.FLOYD ALSBACH – JUN 13, 2015

Perhaps I might recommend Godel, Escher, Bach, an Eternal Golden Braid by Hofstadter (sp?) or Matila Ghyka’s “The Geometry of Art and Life.” I might also recommend a series of European academic discussions which ended in 2010 called “Scienar” which were about the intimate relationship between Science and Art. There were two (maybe more I may have forgotten) academic meetings about a year apart, one in Bucharest and one in Calabria Italy as I recall. Full disclosure, one of the presenters, Samoila Gheorghe, used some of my abstract work as examples.JEFF HALMOS – JUN 6, 2015

I’m sure you can find thousands of ratios in nature; it’s just human pattern recognition. I’ve never been able to use the golden ratio in my logo work with any useful function, and found it constraining and often aesthetically awkward, especially when you’re not using repetitious geometric forms—which I tend to stay away from as it’s rare that they can impart any meaning or heterogeneity.ROPI HEGYALJAI – JUN 3, 2015

Golden ratio is not a number!! the golden ratio is 1 : 1,618 thats why its called ratio because you need two numbers for !! what you sad that just another theory that prooves nothing unless that you are a materialist meek… and the theory is that the natural value of growing proportion what is allway approaching the value of 1:1,618 its not an exact value… and whos care that what kind of people use it or not… the nature use in any case… that u believe it or not its no matter for the nature…CHRIS HEATH – JUN 2, 2015

We are brought up to use linear measurement systems (metres and millimetres, feet and inches, etc) and this how most people measure the world around them. For some people, including John, being able to grasp proportional systems of measure is a paradigm shift too far. Surprisingly, the easiest way to put irrational numbers (e.g., 1.618…, 1.4142…, 1.732…) to good use, is to ignore the mathematics behind them altogether. With a couple of sticks, a bed of sand and a piece of string (or a compass and straight edge), these ratios are easy to generate and are relatively easy to embed into a design. If John had spent years studying this topic, he would have discovered a number of useful methods for applying the golden ratio and its related ratios to design. It’s no wonder his two parakeets are irate; the golden curvature of their beaks has gone unnoticed!HUB GRAPHICS – MAY 31, 2015

I dont understand why the golden ratio is being perceived as being so negative. The fact is it is helpful for design. Not in all cases but some. In logo design it can really aid creating a form that works. Maybe it doen’t hold as much weight as people in the past perceive it has but so what. In nature this principle is evident as well. Cheer up John, you should get out once in a while.GERALD KLEIN – MAY 31, 2015

Hah, what new site? Need attention? What a troll.DIMITRI PAPADOPOULOS – MAY 29, 2015

The irrationality of a number does not pose any difficulty to constructing those numbers geometrically, and the irrational numbers vastly outnumber the rational so that were you to randomly pick a number from the number line you’d have no chance of picking a rational, so this remark “it’s impossible for anything in the real-world to fall into the golden ratio, because it’s an irrational number” rings false. You could debate whether any thing in the natural world achieves any kind of fixed length down at some small scale, but this has nothing to do with the rationality or irrationality of the number.GABRIEL CABRERA – MAY 29, 2015

Proper aesthetic principles are pleasing enough.TONY DURHAM – MAY 29, 2015

it’s impossible for anything in the real-world to fall into the golden ratio, because it’s an irrational number. Not to get geeky, but if you made a perfect pentagonal quasi-crystal, its diagonal would be in the golden ratio to its edge. I know single-atom precision may not be good enough for a mathematician, but as a chemist it is good enough for me. Certainly it is way better than anything artists or designers would care about.MAXWELL COLLARD – MAY 29, 2015

Unless the crystal was at absolute zero, thermal fluctuations in the atoms’ positions would also mean that the golden ratio would occur with probability zero.BILLS – MAY 29, 2015

Is this a joke? I dont dispute other ratios can be pleasing to the eye, but your comment “Yes, it probably would be, if there were anything to scientifically support the notion that the golden ratio had any bearing on why we find certain objects like the Parthenon or the Mona Lisa aesthetically pleasing.” is completely wrong……the ratio is infinitely divisible and is essentially the ratio that all of nature adheres to. Look up fractal geometry. It kinda makes up the entire universe, unless you live in a different one 😉LUDVIK HERRERA – MAY 28, 2015

Regarding the use of this golden rule, whether the myth holds true or not, in my experience, through out several web, mobile and print designs, it is a fantastic rule to use and break sometimes. I’ve written a response to John at https://medium.com/@ludvikherrera/fibonacci-s-golden-ratio-might-not-be-universal-but-a-successful-visual-rule-1c123f6cb431. If the intent was to bring comments while creating a sensational title and what it seems a thorough objective investigation, then it has been successful. However, not a good practice.PAUL HOOGEVEEN – MAY 28, 2015

So, here we have an article ostensibly written to debunk the golden ratio, but really intended to support Fastcodesign’s design philosophy. That’s all well and good–one would expect a design company to post articles supporting its business model–but it would have been much better journalism for the author to have consulted and quoted more than one mathematician (Keith Devlin). One therefore has to wonder if Devlin’s tech company, Brainquake, has any connection to Fastcodesign. Gary Meisner has written a clear and concsie response to this article.GARY MEISNER – MAY 30, 2015

The article in response is at https://www.goldennumber.net/fast-company-design-john-brownlee-golden-ratio/.CASEY O’NEIL – MAY 28, 2015

The author of this article fails to account for the vast number of nature made things, such as flower pedals/ seeds. further, while phi is an irrational number, and cannot exactly be achieved by man, the golden ratio is the attempt to achieve that. if you chart the golden ratio against phi, you will see that the golden ratio continually lands alternating above and below phi, tangentially growing closer as the graph goes on. The author clearly has some hatred towards widely accepted beliefs he cannot understand, similar to teenage angst. While this link I am attaching also talks about unprovable meta-physical concepts, it is useful in that it shows the many things that this author has not accounted for in his argument. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KStDRQcV-NcMATTHEW CROSS – MAY 27, 2015

Having written 4 books with a medical doctor and delivering a TEDx talk on the remarkable power and practical applications of the Golden Ratio, I suggest this article is a poor attempt to obfuscate its clear, valuable, ubiquitous presence at all scales in the Universe, most definitely including design. While not an absolute law (is anything?), from the sub-atomic to the galactic, the Golden Ratio and affiliated Fibonacci Sequence are together very strong form and function design tendencies throughout Nature–mankind included. They are literally hardwired into our biological software and hardware, all the way down to our DNA. So is it any wonder that we are naturally drawn to, delight in and are inspired by their appearance–however approximate–whether showing up in art, music, poetry, design, health or computer coding, etc., etc., ad infinitum? Or that they have fascinated countless geniuses through history, including Pythagoras, Fibonacci, Da Vinci, Einstein, Fuller, Disney, Turing…MATTHEW CROSS – MAY 27, 2015

…and can be observed in the works of Apple? Or hold the golden keys to great health, performance and longevity? Perhaps those behind this article are part of the fraternity endeavoring to keep the power of this universal principle and blueprint of growth, harmony and unity an underground secret, as it has been for much of recorded history (which is partially why my TEDx talk is entitled “The Golden Ratio Renaissance.”) Look a little deeper, beyond the questionable veil of much of modern media. Explore for yourself with an open mind the provocative possibility which Dr. Friedman and I propose in our latest book: that the Golden Ratio & Fibonacci Sequence are golden keys to your genius, health, wealth and excellence. To infinity and beyond!CHRISTOPH BRINKMANN – MAY 28, 2015

As the article already pointed out – “If the golden ratio’s aesthetic merit is so flimsy, then why does the myth persist? Devlin says it’s simple. We’re creatures who are genetically programmed to see patterns and to seek meaning,”” he says. It’s not in our DNA to be comfortable with arbitrary things like aesthetics, so we try to back them up with our often limited grasp of math.”””BRIAN DEINES – MAY 26, 2015

This webpage layout uses the golden ratio.JOHN HEWARD – MAY 18, 2015

Oh … and another important point. One way of creating a Golden Rectangle is to lay out a square. Divide it vertically into two. With the point of compasses on the bottom point of the mid line scribe an arc from one of the top corners down until it meets the extended base line of the square and that gives you the outer corner of a Golden Rectangle. in Greece and Rome and through well into the modern period … ie post medieval architecture … buildings were laid out with ropes and pegs. That makes the perfect proportions in many all that more amazing. Proportion is also a really good way of scaling up from a small design. Just think what they might have built if they had only had CAD !!JOHN HEWARD – MAY 17, 2015

In a rush to be dismissive the article ignores a really important point about the use of geometry and proportion in architecture and art. In the classic period in Ancient Greece and Rome and through into the middle ages architects could not calculate force or momentum. They relied on geometry to not only lay out their buildings but to help rationalise why buildings remained standing and why some buildings and some proportions looked good and others didn’t. Look up the Milan controversy where architects and masons knew they were trying something difficult with the size and height of the proposed new work on the cathedral and used geometry and proportion, specifically a discussion about the merits of equilateral triangles, to give their designs, almost literally, a secure grounding. Using proportion and geometry is a good starting point for any design and a useful tool when trying to analyse why one thing appears to us to be beautiful and

another awkward or ugly.MIKE MAYER – MAY 24, 2015

Dang… I guess I should take the tires off my car. Circles are a myth because the digits of pi go on forever. The author has a bit of gall talking about others “limited grasp of math.” Irrational number are all around us in nature.BRUNO – MAY 24, 2015

As a designer I despise its popularity in the field and doubt its usefulness as a visual tool. To me, the golden ratio is synonymous with asymmetry, or rule of thirds, like Giorgia Lupi said. The Greeks loved it, and went crazy about it, to the point of killing people who tried to reveal that it was an irrational number (similar to p, it has infinite decimal places ), which went against their divine beliefs. Similarly today, there are people willing crucify others (at least in their heads) who dare to question the beauty of this number.SERGIO LEPORE – MAY 23, 2015

Superimposing the diagram over symmetrical design is silly.(straw man) And to say that people don’t use it does not mean anything either. “I eat pork rinds and drink soda don’t bother me about that vegetable nonsense…” Same logic by a young opinionated writer who needs to fill in his “quota” space for the paper… Unsophisticated and boring.JOHN MORTON – MAY 23, 2015

The author would have done well to skim through Mario Livio’s book. It’s pretty good.PETER TAYLOR-BROWN – MAY 22, 2015

I am not advocating for the golden ratio, because I do not use it in design myself, but the math argument is not convincing, and the ratio IS useful to some artists and designers: 1) People can’t perceive the effect of rounding off the 4th decimal place (1.6810 rather than 1.6180339887…), so saying the Golden Ratio is inherently flawed is a little over the top. 2) I agree the Golden Ratio overanalyzed, as people try to make post hoc claims that it has been used where it hasn’t, but it has been used so successfully by so many artists that it’s usefulness as a tool isn’t really arguable. Some artists DO use it as a tool to help visually balance their work; it just needs to be acknowledged as a tool, not a golden ticket.DAVID SCHLOSSER – MAY 22, 2015

It’s bullshit. Many designers don’t use it. Common Sense may also be bullshit, as many people don’t use it either, and if they do, they vastly discount its importance.BRYAN BALTZ – MAY 22, 2015

This is why peer editing is still a good idea. The author should have found an actual educated person and said “does this article make me look and sound like a complete dipshit?”…. To which the properly educated person would have said “why yes, of course!”KIM NGUYEN – MAY 21, 2015

Non-mathematicians should not attempt to debunk math, lol! Especially while not understanding a whit of it. Fibonacci, for nature’s engineering, rational approximation to “golden ratios. ”RENE GONZALEZ – MAY 21, 2015

Shouldn’t Devlin have written this article? Brownlee was basically his ghostwriter quoting him at every turn to espouse some bitter math professor’s long time frustrations with creatives… As an architect, I can say that we don’t necessarily always use the golden mean, ratio, whatever you want to call it on a regular basis and I would say almost rarely. Yet, this does not discount its importance in design and if some elements contain it either overtly or subliminally, I think it offers more than just mere mathematical relevance. IT HAS BEEN proven in nature and as at the natural progression of cells as they divide and multiply or mollusks shells and plants as they rotate in their growth follow this progression of adding on to what was before… like the fibonacci series, It may not be complex math solving the mystery of the Universe yet there is definitely something special when everything seems to work out perfectly when designing with this

mean… its almost eery.JAMES OSCAR GANT IV – MAY 23, 2015

I think it is like water flowing down a hill – the water always takes the easiest path. The fact that things grow in such a way that the factor of change is also the solution of the sum of the previous and the new being equal to the new squared is not something that is really that extraordinary as it is the simplest path for efficiency, and physics or what we observe is often almost maximally efficient over time and establishes equilibrium- objects spinning in space will eventually become spheres or disks or spinning bent lines (spirals) because this minimizes movement in the dimensions depending on gravity and mass etc.DAN WINTER – MAY 21, 2015

brownlees article completely misses the point- because golden ratio is the biologic solution to negentropy/self organization and charge attraction (as in life force) for WAVE MECHANICS ( proof: www.fractalfield.com/fractalspacetime ) the physics is the power of golden ratio – thats why nature uses it to make life..MICHAEL PACCIONE – MAY 21, 2015

I am a designer and I use the golden ratio all the time. Lol at writer who thinks he knows design.FISHERCW – MAY 21, 2015

Too much time on his hands – made up issue, not very coherent criticism, what’s the point?AMY WHITE – MAY 21, 2015

No one says you have to use it. That doesn’t mean it is a myth. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091221073723.htmMIKE MAYER – MAY 25, 2015

Dang… I guess I should take the tires off my car. Circles are a myth because the digits of pi go on forever. The author has a bit of gall talking about others “limited grasp of math.” Irrational number are all around us in nature.DAVID SCHLOSSER – MAY 23, 2015

It’s bullshit. Many designers don’t use it.Common Sense may also be bullshit, as many people don’t use it either, and if they do, they vastly discount its importance.KIM NGUYEN – MAY 22, 2015

Non-mathematicians should not attempt to debunk math, lol! Especially while not understanding a whit of it. Fibonacci, for nature’s engineering, rational approximation to “golden ratios. ”ALEXANDER – MAY 21, 2015

I’m a designer, and I use the golden ratio to set type all the time. It looks great!FERNANDO JM – MAY 20, 2015

this guy has obviously not studied one of the biggest concepts in photography and graphic design, the rule of thirdsFERNANDO JM – MAY 20, 2015

also, it’s not necessarily classical music, but listening to music as a youth has been shown to stimulate the brain and help with intellectual growth. Because classical music is a very complex musical genre, it’s a good candidate. There are scientific studies on it.GARY MEISNER – MAY 9, 2015

This article is an example of nonsense in journalism, and is filled with bias, inaccuracies and misinformation. See my article in response at https://www.goldennumber.net/fast-company-design-john-brownlee-golden-ratio/.

GRAHAM TUNNADINE – APR 6, 2015

Your part right. The ratio you chose is just one of many golden ratios. A great one is used for the European “A” paper system – A0, A1,A2, A3, A4 etc. Every time you fold it in half, the ratio between the two sides stays the same. The long side is always 1.4142 times the short side. Human beings are rational and we love to see patterns in things because it makes it easier to generalize, systematize and move on. So some of you will have recognized the ratio in the A paper system to be the (square root of 2) to 1, which is a satisfying ratio and geometrically repeatable with a ruler and a pair of compasses. So, you are right there isn’t a special place for a “Golden” ratio, but there is a place for repetitive ratios i.e. patterns. We find them satisfying. Finding patterns in art, architecture or nature is also satisfying, whether the ratio is “golden” or some other arbitrary repetition.NS – APR 20, 2015

Where is the “dislike” button for this article? Whether or not he’s “right”, he sounds like an arrogant asshole. Personally, I think he’s just opinionated. It’s like trying to argue whether or not there is a God. Sorry to say, but he looks like a teenager, making it even harder to take him seriously.PABLO CABISTANI – APR 20, 2015

Finally! I would say great part of the golden ration popularity lies in the “scientific” touch it gives to design. Many students and designers like to think they are “aesthetic scientists”, like if there are rules or “secrets” that just they know – and all these “design laws” are hidden from the rest of the world. The fact is that great design is result of experience, talent and “trial and error”. What is much more difficult to achieve.SVOKA VLAD – APR 20, 2015

Strictly speaking, it’s impossible for anything in the real-world to fall into the golden ratio, because it’s an irrational number. Seriously? Take a sheet of paper, draw a rectangle with same sides. Now draw diagonal. You just produced a line with IRRATIONAL v2 length. Achieving impossible is apparently that easy.MIKE LEACH – APR 19, 2015

Rule of Thirds is the best guideline to follow when composing photos, web designs, or films. The principles of Golden Ratio are more evident today than ever before. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirdsDAVE STRAKER – APR 18, 2015

So if it works, how does it work? A possibility is laziness. We like simple shapes and ratios which the mind can easily recognize. ‘That’s nice (and easy)’ we think. We also like a bit of stimulation. The GR works on A4 (etc) rectangles because it creates squares, which are simple shapes. We may not consciously spot it, but there’s a bit of the brain somewhere going ‘wow’.DYLAN WHITMAN – APR 18, 2015

This is just silly – whether or not you can get to a finite number is irrelevant, the real concern is whether or not you can get to a number that is the maximum number of difference that could be perceived by a human since beauty is essentially the desired outcome.PAUL KILER – APR 17, 2015

The Article’s premise is fallacious. The Golden ratio is taken FROM Nature, ie. God’s hand of Creation. We learn best by studying the Art of the Great Designer. This is now called Biomimicry. Before it was called ‘Biomimicry’, I made up my own term, SINASOD, standing for Structure In Nature As a Strategy Of Design. But you simply can’t apply a concept from one lesson learned and unilaterally apply it to all other design tasks. And to assume that because some structure doesn’t follow the design and is inspired by one design tool, that doesn’t invalidate it’s use, usefulness, or it’s promise to teach you better design in the future..MICHAEL SAYRE – APR 16, 2015

Oh, I get it: April Fool’s (a little late and thereby less obvious and therefore as clever as this article, not). Good one, John! Had me for a nanosecond or two.JOEL CLEMENTS – APR 16, 2015

I’m hoping for an article debunking the “Rule of Thirds” …JOEL CLEMENTS – APR 16, 2015

This article changed my life forever. Not.CHRISTOPHER M. CROWLEY – APR 16, 2015

Oh man, you just threw four years of grad school out the window for me! Now what do I do, go to Disneyland?SHAY CHARLES – APR 16, 2015

This is the dumbest article that I’ve read on FastCo. I can’t believe anyone gets paid to write something like this. There are patterns to beauty in terms of proportion, and the golden ratio is one of them. It is not so much a theory as it was a discovery.FELIX HOENIKKER – APR 14, 2015

You are fixated on the golden ratio when it is ratios in general that we all find beautiful regardless. Hence why no one disagrees that recursive patterns, islamic tiling, aperiodic tiling, 2D fractals, 3D fractals, Louis Sullivan etc. The concept of beauty that we all recognize is ratios, not the singular golden ratio variable you’re obsessed with. It demonstrates your lack of understanding what makes things beautiful universally and math for that matter.LOU GAGNON – APR 14, 2015

This article is DERP! If I was one of the people quoted I would not answer any future calls from this author. 1.414 & 1.732 also continue on as irrational numbers. Did the author ask Devlin or HSB why those numbers were included? Was it willful exclusion or utter ignorance? What about 1.272 or 2.236? Dear Fast Company- “I see Dumb people…Writing like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dumb.” You’re killing your brand with this click bate.DIOGO JOSÉ NOGUEIRA – APR 12, 2015

The article mentions some studies that proves that the Golden Ratio has no relationship with Beauty recognition, but there’s also studies that proves otherwise. Also forgot to mention that the ratio is refined at each iteration, so when you have for instance a proportion of 3:2, which numbers are present in Fibonacci’s sequence, you have a ratio of 1.5, that to say that the ratio is a bit dynamic and can’t simply look at the Golden Number. I should also point out, that in my experience the Golden Rule can enter in conflict with other systems such as Ergonomics. But coming up with the conclusion that the Golden Number, highly sustained by that a new generation doesn’t use it or doesn’t see the value in it, is a bit hasty. You just simply passed a certificate of dumbness at Leonardo da Vinci, Almada Negreiros and so on.LUKE MORRIS – APR 12, 2015

“These results using indirect measures of preference that improve both the internal and external validity of the effects, suggest that the golden ratio can have a subtle, yet strong effect on consumers’ preferences, and intentions.” Pulling this from the source you tried to use to disprove the golden ratio, again, at Haas Berkeley. These results using indirect measures of preference that improve both the internal and external validity of the effects, suggest that the golden ratio can have a subtle, yet strong effect on consumers’ preferences, and intentions. Interestingly, a small proportion of market place offerings used the range of ratios between 1.5 and 1.7, even in the less frivolous categories. This suggests that the findings of this paper, far from being conventional wisdom in the industry, may be able to inform product designers and brand managers.”” Did you even read this study?LUKE MORRIS – APR 14, 2015

“Study participants were 102 undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory marketing course who completed the experiment for partial course credit (50 males and 52 females).” Is this statistically significant? Also, you say that on average, consumers prefer rectangles that are in the range of 1.414 and 1.732.”” Shouldn’t this say “on average, undergraduate marketing students given course credit at Haas Berkeley prefer rectangles that are in the range of 1.414 and 1.732.”?LUKE MORRIS – JAN 0, 2015

I’d love to read more into the unpublished exercise at Stanford. I’m reviewing the article at Haas Berkeley now. One thing to remember is that people can’t really tell you what they want. If these studies had used eye-tracking technology they might be a bit more believable. http://uxmyths.com/post/746610684/myth-21-people-can-tell-you-what-they-wantBLAKE MCCREARY – APR 14, 2015

I’m not seeing a lot of credibility from this author. He obviously used the golden ratio on his Twitter page, because it’s hideously designed.DAVID BIEDERBECK – APR 14, 2015

I’m not sure he fully understands the premise. Interesting read nonetheless.MEVLANA M. GÜRBULAK – APR 14, 2015

why did you make such an effort to collect so many quotes from different designers that says “i don’t use golden ratio”. no one is arguing that golden ratio is the fundamental of all good design. but one can easily argue that some designs that have golden ratio is pretty good. you are trying to prove a point but all you get is “i don’t use golden ratio when i’m designing a building” is that all? (by the way (1.414+1.732)/2 is quite close to golden ratio 🙂DAVID HOLMAN – APR 14, 2015

Not too long ago, I would make time to pause and read Fast Co Design. Lately, I just end up with vitriolic nonsense from Brownlee. Phi is just a guideline; one of many possible systems to simplify your design process. Take a look at Bringhurst’s ‘Elements’ for an overview of many that work. I’ve never met anyone that sets out to make beauty solely on the basis of a proportion system. There are too many variables. On the other hand, I know countless designers who make use of the Golden Ratio (and other systems) in their work. It’s a framework or a starting point, not the end game. And it works well. Regular grids like 960 are more popular now because they’re easy; like graph paper for your layout. Better than no system at all. Experiments have been made with Phi, but it takes more planning in a fluid grid. I’ve followed my last garbage link from Brownlee. Unsubscribe.MARK YIU – APR 14, 2015

The Spiral in nature. http://xkcd.com/spiral/JONATHAN LAUFERSWEILER – APR 14, 2015

This is a key passage though: ‘Devlin’s experiments aren’t the only ones to show people don’t prefer the golden ratio. A study from the Haas School of Business at Berkeley found that, on average, consumers prefer rectangles that are in the range of 1.414 and 1.732. The range contains the golden rectangle, but its exact dimensions are not the clear favorite.” The proportion of each pair in the Fibonacci sequence isn’t always 1.6180…, in fact it may never be. The exact proportion varies, with the average approaching Phi as the sequence approaches infinity. The range that the sample preferred are solidly within proportions you would find between Fibonacci neighbors. That deviation from Phi is absolutely part of the real sequence.ANDI ARBEIT – APR 14, 2015

Aristoteles: „The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.“ I wish these anglo-american guys would really understand this instead of doing number crunching. Yes the article is technically correct, there is no exact ratio. Except who cares and Da Vinci.SITE-59 – APR 14, 2015

There goes down the drain modular, the beliefs of the modern movement and my 6 years of studying architecture.DIZAJN.NINJA – APR 14, 2015

Who ever wrote this article, has no clue about golden ratio. Sometimes it’s better to keep silent then to show everyone how ignorant you are.JP GARY – APR 14, 2015

My undergrad thesis was about comparing the golden ratio to other ratios in design and abstraction. I found a statistical significance across the use of the golden ratio in designs (contextual work: i.e. a magazine layout.) but when the designs were abstracted (just geometric shapes) participants preferred the unity ratio (1:1). This made sense with the research I had done for the project.SARMAD AL-MASHTA – APR 14, 2015

Hahahahahaha … the author point of view about the topic is as simplistic and naive as one says that earth turn around the sun in plain circle … primary school mentality golden ratio, Pi, Square root of 2 … these are merely geometrical harmonies … just like musical harmonies those change from culture to culture and from era to era … the article is perfect example of total crap journalism … grow up, good work requires serious research … and not dropping articles about topics you have no idea about … I am sorry I wasted time reading itTED KACANDES – APR 14, 2015

You lost me at “It’s bullshit. The golden ratio’s aesthetic bona fides are an urban legend, a myth, a design unicorn.”DAVID BIEDERBECK BLAKE MCCREARY – APR 13, 2015

I’m not sure he fully understands the premise. Interesting read nonetheless.MEVLANA M. GÜRBULAK to JOHN BROWNLEE – APR 13, 2015

why did you make such an effort to collect so many quotes from different designers that says “i don’t use golden ratio”. no one is arguing that golden ratio is the fundamental of all good design. but one can easily argue that some designs that have golden ratio is pretty good. you are trying to prove a point but all you get is “i don’t use golden ratio when i’m designing a building” is that all? (by the way (1.414+1.732)/2 is quite close to golden ratio 🙂LONNIE BAILEY to JOHN BROWNLEE – APR 13, 2015

In visual psychology, there are many areas that address this subject. I suggest reading some Rudolph Arnheim if you wish to understand how we see, and why we find certain ratios pleasing. In my own personal opinion, and from what I was taught in art school the Golden Ratio is just a tool to help creatives with composition. It’s not a rule, it more of a suggestion to help with the layout of your work if you’re having a difficult time with composition. You might also try other methods such as the rule of thirds, or making sure that no two intervals are the same.It’s just one tool in a large toolbox, and as media formats change so do tools and perception along with it. Now day young designers are more familar with the 960 rule than the golden ratio.DAVID RASA RUSSELL to JOHN BROWNLEE – APR 13, 2015

Sad, yes its not natural in the real world, but there are patterns that are. SOme images look soft to the eye and others look man made and rigid. Sometimes you need to soften your design, usually getting inspiration from the golden rule or fibonacci can really help offer perspective. We need more ways to inspire alternative perspectives when we design, so to call this BS, is sad. Its a tool, that is all. Dont be so anal you f*ck tards 😉

Peter Hedding says

I’m elated (38.19%) that so many artistic/mathematical/designer types of individuals really went to town giving grief to someone who apparently did very well on his SAT English score, but probably not so much on the, at least as equally crucial, Math score. I’m infuriated (61.8%) that there isn’t the same volume of indignation when textbook adoption comes to town. Or when voting for a town’s new school board. I spent practically my entire adult life teaching high school Social Studies, mainly to students whose main language wasn’t English. In the process of designing graphic organizers to be able to explain very complicated objectives, I discovered PHI while teaching Economics, specifically the cyclical nature of stock markets. (I had heard of the Golden Mean during my studies at a Liberal Arts college, but only in the context of Greek Philosophy.) When I tried to engage other disciplines in discussions concerning the Divine Proportion, I found complete ignorance instead. The Math Dept. Chair said that PHI is too complicated, so it isn’t taught. His student teacher from Grand Canyon University HAD NEVER HEARD OF IT! The Core Knowledge Foundation started by E.D. Hirsch, Jr., which is used by some of the very best charter schools in the nation, has nothing on its’ website, except 0 Search results found, for ‘The Divine Proportion’, or ‘Golden Ratio’! Oh, you get some of the very best lessons plans ever made about proportion and perspective, the Renaissance, Da Vince, and even Vitruvius, but no 1:1618! Something so incredible, is so incredibly absent as to be almost mystifying, or a colossally conscious orchestration! (oration, ration, ratio, Orion! 8^ )

Evan says

Good to see you’re still posting! I’ve been lots of reading the bible lately and measuring different things I find, never stop making discoveries, like 1.618 in minutes and seconds is approximately 1:37… ummm… what? literally God’s 3 numbers, 1, trinity, and 7 stars, lamps, spirits, etc.

Arjonline says

I’m infuriated (61.8%) that there isn’t the same volume of indignation when textbook adoption comes to town. Or when voting for a town’s new school board.I’m elated (38.19%) that so many artistic/mathematical/designer types of individuals really went to town giving grief to someone who apparently did very well on his SAT English score, but probably not so much on the, at least as equally crucial, Math score

https://www.arjonline.org/