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albatross comments on Joy in Discovery - Less Wrong

29 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 21 March 2008 01:19AM

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Comment author: albatross 21 March 2008 04:54:09PM 1 point [-]

Does this mean all the Wikipedia entries on science need spoiler alerts?

Honestly, I've had the experience of knowing something nobody else does for awhile (though in cryptography, not something world-shaking involving tides or planets), and it's kind of a cool feeling. I think part of this is anticipation of improved status, but a bigger part, at least for me, is that this gives me a way to measure myself against something external. If I'm discovering/inventing stuff that nobody else has managed to discover/invent, this gives me a sense that I'm doing a good job.

I agree with the above comment that our motivations for stuff like this are mixed; I love solving the puzzle, I get a bigger charge out of it when the puzzle is hard (but not so hard that I can't get anywhere on it and give up instead), I like the status of being the guy who did something cool, I like the knowledge that I know something nobody else does (and if I died right now, maybe nobody would figure this out for many more years), and I like the way of measuring myself against the best other people can do. And there are probably other sources of motivation for trying to discover new stuff, invent new stuff, understand things nobody else has ever understood, etc.