Top Posts

Below is the stuff that I think provides to most value here on MLU. Either they introduce what I think are they key ideas in rationality, or they’re filled with concrete tips for self-improvement.

Rationality 101: A quick introduction to what all this “rationality” stuff is about. Learn about how our brains are often wrong and the field of debiasing. Offers suggestions for books and other resources to learn more.

Planning 101: A long introduction to the psychological research behind planning. Features nice-looking pictures and goes over 3 different rationality techniques for planning: Murphyjitsu, Reference Class Forecasting, and Back-planning.

Attractor Theory: My current hybrid model of motivation and willpower. Talks about trying to globally optimize, rather than locally. Also has nice-looking pictures.

There is No Akrasia: As advertised.

The Ancient God Who Rules High School: Competition in schools, Moloch, metrics. It’s a lot of things smashed into one, with nice-looking pictures.

Instrumental Rationality: A summary of how rationality designed to be helpful goes into two-ish categories. Helpful for understanding how different skills all fall under the same category of “rationality”.

The Post-CFAR Series: A series of five essays that develop ideas I had after attending a Center for Applied Rationality workshop. Features a mix of practical advice and high-level philosophizing on the nature of rationality. (There’s a PDF compilation of all ~20 pages here: Post-CFAR Workshop Compilation.)

Realistic Expectations: Examines how practicing mental self-improvement techniques is actually much more like practicing a physical task.  Focuses on rescaling expectations to be more inline with reality.

Actually Practicing: Following Realistic Expectations, this post explores what actual practice for mental techniques might look like.  Offers a detailed breakdown of a heuristic to fight distractions.

Insight Porn: An overview of my thoughts towards media that focuses on delivering intellectual stimulation.  Explores how a shift back to the just doing things and normal-level actions are probably important.

In Defense of the Obvious: Arguments and intuitions for why “boring advice” tends to be the best advice. Obvious things are likely obvious because they are helpful low-hanging fruit advice.

My Workflow: A post that outlines things that I do which help keep myself “on-target”. Features pictures of my notebooks, goal sheets, timers, etc.

Learning Better: Part 1: A summary of Barbara Oakley’s book A Mind for Numbers, which has some great concrete tips for studying and learning.  There’s also a flowchart for studying well, and a simplified model of the brain and learning. (Part 2 never happened, and continuing this series is, alas, no longer a priority for me.)

Living in the Moment: A collection of ideas that center around the idea of managing your internal mental state.  Offers concrete examples and suggestions.

Fighting Procrastination: Summarizes some basic research on procrastination.  Covers precommitment and a few other concepts in economics applied to fighting procrastination.

One Year Review: A summary of how my thoughts changed in 2016.

(Updated as more things get posted.)