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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.

Malice, Stupidity, or Egalité Irréfléchie?

Anyone who has decided to strike off the mainstream path has experienced this: Strong admonitions and warnings against what they were doing, and pressures not do it.

It doesn't really matter what it is you're trying to change. If you're trying to become a nondrinker in a drinking culture, if you're trying to quit eating junk food, if you're trying to become a vegetarian or otherwise have a different diet, this will have happened to you.

If you decide to pursue a nontraditional career path (artist, entrepreneur, etc), you will have experienced this.

If you try to live a different lifestyle than the people around you - for instance, rising each day at 4:30AM and sleeping early instead of partying, you will have experienced this.

People will pressure and cajole you in many different ways to keep doing it the old way. Almost always, it will be phrased as though they're looking after your best interest.

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