Overreaching and powering up [Fallible Ideas podcast] [curi video]

Notes on overreaching and powering up

  • Overreaching means having your error rate higher that your error correction rate
  • Error correction rate depends on understanding rational philosophy
    • How to think critically?
    • How to use criticism?
    • How to introspect?
    • How to analyze things and look for your mistakes?
    • How to brainstorm solutions and think which solutions will actually work and what might be wrong with some of them?
  • Error correction rate depends on skill and resources put into error correction
  • Resources include time, effort, mental energy, advice from friends, and hired advice
  • Error rate depends on ambition of projects and resources allocated
  • Incremental step up from past successes
    • Consistency near 100/100 in similar past projects being
  • Get more done by succeeding 99% of the time than by succeeding 50% of the time
  • People lower standards of success due to repeated failures
  • Power up and do things when their cheap
  • Focus on investing in increasing your resources
    • Learn how to do things faster
    • Automating things
  • Time is a resource that can be used for investing or consumption
    • Practicing and learning is investing in the future
  • Vicious cycle from overreaching and then focusing on short term solutions instead of getting better at life
    • People get trapped being too busy to learn because they are dealing with the consequences of not having learned enough
  • Be less ambitious in the short term
  • Need spare time to learn or focus on unexpected problems
  • Get the basics right to be highly effective in the future
  • Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have learned it
    • Getting 7/10 is not proper learning; it’s low standards
    • 99% is closer to actually knowing
    • Learning how to do things without tuning out and making random errors
    • Having a successful, repeatable process
    • Be able to focus and organize work properly to get correct answers
  • Being able to do something slowly and correctly with understanding is just the first step
    • You need to move from high resource cost to low resource cost
    • To build on previous knowledge it has to be cheap and easy
  • Complicated tasks require chaining many small skills that all need to be cheap
  • Walking is a low resource cost example for most people
  • Have conscious attention to spare:
    • Think critically, analyze what your doing, check for errors, relate task to other tasks within a bigger project
  • Things should be resource cheap or they should be learning
  • Cheap learning is better is possible
  • High resource cost ideas can only be leaf nodes in your knowledge tree/structure
  • Once you have made a group of ideas cheap, they can be combined into a summary idea, then you can combine summary ideas, and so on.
  • Knowledge builds up layer by layer
  • Progressive skill acquisition is exponential like compound interest
  • The only way to be really great is to power up, step by step
  • Either you have gotten lucky with great intuitions or you need to acquire this skill of powering up; you would be standing out a lot if you are already lucky
  • Even great people would benefit from this methodology

What’s your opinion?

I think it makes sense to focus on doing things that I can succeed at. It also makes sense that I should be spending a significant fraction of my time powering up to do accomplish way more in the future. I really like the idea automatizing skills and getting really good at stuff. I have lots of experience with not being able to go past a certain point with a bunch of past learning due to poor prerequisite skills. I feel like I have enough failed experiences with that strategy to motivate me to try mastering basic skills and building up my foundations.

With my grammar learning projects I have been finding out that much more practice is needed to even get past the initial learning stage than I thought. I think that the practice is starting to result in certain parts of grammar becoming more intuitive. I think there are some grammar topics that I am more consistently understanding now than before I started. It seems like all three components of powering up (learning, practice, and automatization) could eventually be happening simultaneously. I think that I am still very much in the learning phase with most grammar stuff but I guess that I’m also in the practice stage. However, it seems like I’m a very long way off automatizing grammar knowledge for normal reading. I guess that I will need to do hundreds more sentence trees and/or parts of speech analyses before getting to some automatizations. And before I do that I need to be consistently getting stuff right with high accuracy.

I was re-reading the Learning with Sub-Parts article (Learning with Sub-Parts), and I find the ideas in it helpful for me with regard to the overreaching topic. I like the idea of breaking things down to small pieces in order to achieve mastery over each individual piece. The article also talks about keeping track of the small pieces so that you can make progress over time. That’s not how I have tried learning in the past because I have been super disorganized. Maybe disorganization was not the root cause though, I just don’t know.

I have lots of areas in serious need of improvement. This is kind of good in that there should be lots of low hanging fruit for me to work on. The scary thing about needing so much improvement is that it doesn’t seem like very many people make much self-improvement progress and I don’t have much understanding of what it will take to be an outlier in this regard. I guess I’m hopeful that I can make some decent progress with the more objective skills and get to a sort of above average level with some philosophy stuff. I would think that where I can end up after years of work is not something for me to worry about not except for the medium to long-term risk of losing motivation to sincerely try to learn philosophy.

The last thing is, I think overreaching is a persistent, ever-present problem for me. I think it partially stems from poor goal setting. I also have very low standards for understanding academic/intellectual topics. I guess I just don’t often expect to get things right, at least not consistently. These are things that I would like to work on correcting.


If you don’t mind me asking, for context, what’s your school/career status, future career plans if any, and approximate age?

EDIT: Oops. I forgot that I already asked about this. Learning Grammar - Parts of Speech Analysis and Trees - #39 by Fire