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InquilineKea comments on Scholarship: How to Do It Efficiently - Less Wrong

114 Post author: lukeprog 09 May 2011 10:05PM

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Comment author: InquilineKea 14 May 2011 11:21:48PM *  17 points [-]

What I do is to try to obtain as much information as possible in written form (this is also why I generally avoid lectures and colloquia unless I feel like they're the only source of information on something). That way, I can refer to it months after I initially read it, and can also search for it (in my hard drive) as well. Furthermore, reading is faster than hearing someone say something, and you can always skip ahead if you want to.

This is also why I generally prefer email to real-life conversation, although I recognize that most professors prefer the latter right now (or they're more responsive if you're talking to them one-on-one).

I also try to post as much online as possible with my unique internet name (with my archiving utilities ready to archive them all) since it makes me easy to google what I've written. It also makes it easier for other people to find me, and sometimes they bring up things that I might have forgotten years ago. I'm not a scholar yet, but I can definitely imagine the potential for crowdsourcing if I become one.


I do appreciate tools like CliffNotes and SparkNotes. Other intelligent people may see those as signals of "low intelligence", but my time is extremely important to me, and if I can learn something faster with those (or with a dummies book), then so be it. In fact, I do believe that a lot of things are deliberately inefficient just to sort out the "highly intelligent" from the "less intelligent", but those things often impose an efficiency cost on the highly intelligent.

What's often important is humility (and a consideration that some people may think you less intelligent). Oftentimes, for the sake of being efficient, you will have to ask stupid questions that are asked (mostly) be less intelligent people.


Also, forum debates are oftentimes useless, but sometimes, they actually give you the drive to explain+defend your position more clearly than you would on your own. Maybe your explanation will be lost on the other side (and on everyone else for that matter), but what ultimately matters is that you made it, and can use it somewhere else.


If you want more time, you can take it out of your sleep with modafinil. But this is risky, and I wouldn't do it more than a few times a year until we know more about the connection between amyloid beta and sleep deprivation and alzheimers (there was a nature article about it last year that I can show later)


I'm not especially organized though, and that's another thing to take into consideration: I rarely delete things, so I have to find creative ways to organize them (certain types of software really help though). But this is something I'm trying to find a solution to. Sometimes I'll just create a folder (or section) that's labeled "DUMP". Sometimes I even put them at the end of my papers or powerpoint presentations. On occasion (probabilities of 1% build up over time), you might actually find a researcher who's actually INTERESTED in what you've put in your DUMP.


Minimizing commute time is also EXTREMELY important (not to mention that commute times intensely increase stress). If you can read on the bus, then take the bus rather than drive (although I've taken the bus before, and I've found transfers to be IMMENSELY stressful since they disrupt my reading because I always have to look at what the bus is doing). Try to live as close to work as possible. There was a period of time when my parents forced me to commute to school rather than to live in the dorms, which wasted a significant amount of time due to the length of my commute (so I ended up only registering for "skippable" classes and often slept overnight in the undergraduate library)


Also, putting less emotional weight on things that don't matter/things that can get others unnecessarily angry. So I put low emotional weight on most political issues of the day (and religion), even though I do have my views of what is "better"/"more effective"


Anyways, if anyone else wants to discuss strategies, feel free to PM me (or email me, or visit my page at http://bit.ly/lX4Tiu). This is something I actively think about (as a polymath who is also studying multiple fields, although I'm still younger and have less experience than most of you), and will ultimately write something about.

What i ultimately hope to do is to introduce forums as the primary mechanism of scientific discourse, rather than real-life. There are so many interesting and productive conversations that are now permanently inaccessible because they were communicated verbally, rather than online.

Just note that people sometimes don't like my unorthodox routes (they even offend some people, so trying to avoid offense by ANYTHING is another important part of rationality). For example, I frequently skip class because it's inefficient and prevents me from working on some of my other side projects. I've written more at http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-literature-that-one-should-read-in-order-to-get-a-broad-scientific-background/answer/Alex-K-Chen

Comment author: malcolmocean 13 July 2013 11:52:32PM 1 point [-]

In fact, I do believe that a lot of things are deliberately inefficient just to sort out the "highly intelligent" from the "less intelligent", but those things often impose an efficiency cost on the highly intelligent.

Huh. I feel like it would be very valuable to create a list of other things that have an isomorphic property to this one, either for intelligence or some other ability. I'm not sure if I can think of any though, and unfortunately I just realized this is a 2yo post that I just saw now due to a recent comment. Oh well.

Comment author: lukeprog 02 October 2011 07:05:40AM 1 point [-]

This is great stuff.