Tag: rationality

Reading Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

After mentioning that I was reading Influence to my good friend [cached]Adrienne, she recommended [cached]Drive as my next book. The theme is quickly explained: While there are three different ways to motivate us - biological urges like hunger or sex, external reward & punishment, and intrinsic reward from performing a task - only intrinsic reward can consistently foster creative behavior.

Pink starts out by showing how traditional external motivation - cash bonuses et al. - overly constrain our focus, interfere with creativity, extinguish internal rewards and even lead to unethical behavior (think doctoring sales numbers to meet a bonus target). Only in special …

Reading Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

The theme of [cached]Influence is clear: unable to keep up with the onslaught of information and decisions we fall back to mental shortcuts and learned behavior.

Robert Cialdini orders them into six large groups:

  • Reciprocation. Giving a gift or doing a favor makes us much more likely to comply with a subsequent request, even if the favor was unwanted. The same concept applies to making an initial high demand and then "conceding" to a lower one. Example: charities giving you a free gift.
  • Commitment and Consistency. We will change our opinions and desires to be in line with our …

Reading Dataclysm

As probably many of you, I've long been an avid follower of [cached]OkTrends, OkCupid's blog. After a three year long silence, finally some new articles appeared, and it soon became clear why: Christian Rudder had been working on a book, [cached]Dataclysm.

It contains tons of interesting findings extracted from the copious amounts of data available to todays datascientists, but I wanted to show a short excerpt I found quite striking:

Woman like Men roughly their own age

The numbers roughly following the diagonal line are the median ages of the men. As you would expect, women prefer men roughly their own age.

Now compare this …

Setting your day up for Productivity

I have this habit of saving interesting articles to read them later on, maybe when I'm commuting on the tube (using Pocket). Sometimes I keep them after reading, to peruse again at a later time, mull them over a little. Case in point, [cached]An 18-Minute Plan for Managing Your Day And Finding Focus from Farnam Street.

After reading it for the third or fourth time, I realized that my days really need some structure. Or, more specifically, a game plan of the most important goals that I plan to achieve that day. Yes, I'm generally quite productive anyway - I've …

Reading Fooled by Randomness

To make more of the books I've read and remember them better, I've started to keep notes while reading. I mostly follow the [cached]procedure outlined on Farnam Street, but realized that realized that publicly posting my notes forces me to put a bit more thought into them. So here we go!

The main point of the book is that we humans are incredibly bad at dealing with probability, our only hope is to acknowledge our weakness and work around it. According to Taleb, the core generator of these ideas:

We favor the visible, the embedded, the personal, the narrated …

Beemind your Papers

If you've seen my post on motivation hacking then you know that I'm using Beeminder to track a wide variety of things. I try everything I can to automate the tracking - import learning data directly from Duolingo, have a custom script poll WaniKani for my current level, track how long I practice piano by reading midi output over USB, integrating with Runkeeper to track how often I run, etc.

Now I've also found a good way to track the papers I read: Every paper I'm interested in I add to [cached]Mendeley. Then once I've actually read it I can …

Immortality is already here, it's just unevenly distributed

Often we are told to "pursue what you really want, not just what pays the bills" by pithy blog posts, filled with thoughtful quotes from successful people. We are encouraged to follow our dreams, to stop doing things that don't bring us enjoyment. After all, we all only have a finite amount of time, 24 hours a day, a few paltry decades, maybe close to a century if we are lucky.

But what if this advice is terribly wrong? What if doing some more of that horribly boring work could get you disproportionately more time, if you could just buy …

Motivation Hacking

After [cached]Anna recommended that I read [cached]The Motivation Hacker, I went down the rabbit hole. I had already discovered [cached]Beeminder the day before, and now I was truly motivated to set myself up with some goals.

You can see them on my public [cached]goal page, but for now they are primarily about keeping up my language studies, spending a bit more time on piano and making sure I go for a run regularly. I'm not sure if I actually care about the money betting features, but just seeing the steady line of past effort is quite …

The Quest for Rationality

Recently I discovered an interesting story on one of my favorite websites: [cached]Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

It contains just about every important idea mentioned in one of the posts in Less Wrong, while still being absorbing - maybe even more so than the original Harry Potter books.

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