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You Should Probably Study Rationality

The largest mental gains I made in the shortest period of time were from studying rationality.

I was amazed to discover a couple years ago that there were people who regularly studied and discussed how to think, how to get correct and accurate beliefs about how the world works, how to understand how your mind works, and to get at the real reasons people make decisions.

The whole rationality thing is as addictive as crack-cocaine for me. I love it. The difference from crack, though, is you grow stronger and smarter the more you dive in.

Our minds are funny. We humans, we're "adaptation exercisers, not fitness maximizers" -

Fifty thousand years ago, the taste buds of Homo sapiens directed their bearers to the scarcest, most critical food resources - sugar and fat. Calories, in a word. Today, the context of a taste bud's function has changed, but the taste buds themselves have not. Calories, far from being scarce (in First World countries), are actively harmful. Micronutrients that were reliably abundant in leaves and nuts are absent from bread, but our taste buds don't complain. A scoop of ice cream is a superstimulus, containing more sugar, fat, and salt than anything in the ancestral environment.

Well That Settles It

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Sometimes, eventually, a decision must be made - Fr. Anthony Odiong, one of the wisest people I've ever met

I've heard this from several people now, and it makes sense: Tough decisions don't matter, since the reason why they're tough is presumably because the risk/reward for all of the options is nearly equal and thus neither is clearly better. But since they're nearly equal, why not just pick one?

Obviously this isn't prudent in every case, but spending a lot of time deliberating certainly can't be the best option.

On the other hand, due to circumstances, sometimes it does pay to take more time for reasons having nothing to do with the decision itself. I'll use an example: social networks. While obviously there are many reasons why Facebook took off whereas Myspace et all didn't, being first certainly didn't help Myspace. In fact, I remember most of my friends switching to Facebook because it was "a better social network than Myspace".

Think about that. If Myspace and Xanga hadn't been around, the concept of 'social network' wouldn't have existed. Then there would be nothing to compare it to. Now if Facebook had come around a couple years later, there might've been an entirely different giant in that niche. They launched at an optimal time.

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