I started the bibliography of Operation Headache off with Cal Newport. It had struck me yesterday that writing a nonfiction book is actually just drawing out a few insights in between a bunch of related book summaries. So what I is sayin is the way to write a book is to have an opinion, write it down as chapter 1, then do a book summary per page length you want the thing to be. And at the end of each book summary you just say “and that’s why my new framework is right”. I think I may be rediscovering the research paper method from the perspective of a blogger.
Initial bibliography for Operation Headache. These three in particular are standouts:
The Art and Craft of Problem Solving
I haven’t read it, but “Moonwalking with Einstein” is probably quite relevant, or something close to it.
The training activities I want to really narrow in on are:
- Competitive memorization
- Jeopardy! (trains recall)
- Dual N-back
- Math competition problems
- Mental math
There’s probably a critical area I’m leaving out, the idea is just to start narrowing things down a bit. I figure a good litmus test for inclusion is if it’s common advice in the area to restrict practice to 2-4 hours per day at most, and eat right to perform well. Maybe add rapid learning to this too, like Daniel Tammet. There’s some interesting stuff in that area. We could restrict that area to rapid language acquisition. This reductionism eliminates stuff like music and slogging through Kant which, though laudable, are more about motivation.
I’d also like to focus more on serotonin-building, daily repeatable deep work than inspired work (e.g. hackathons). In the former, the idea is to work on the same big project for weeks at a time like a marathon runner, and in the latter the idea is to knock something out in a single period of intense dopaminergic engagement before collapsing in a heap. The latter has basically been my area for a long time and I’ve got a good handle on it. It’s worth studying and writing about in its own right; A good place to start might be “unconscious thought theory”. But I suspect that, like sprinting vs. endurance, it’s more nature than nurture, AKA less amenable to training than deep work.
An old anecdote iSteve is helpful here: The New Yorker recently inquired “How Fast Would Usain Bolt Run the Mile?“, only to find out according to his agent that “Usain has never run a mile.” https://www.unz.com/isteve/the-single-most-amazing-number-in-human-biodiversity-studies-72/. Great post. I reference the ideas often when talking to normies. Especially: “Carl Lewis only worked out 8 hours per week getting ready to win four gold medals in 1984, so he had time to be a disco music star in Japan.” Normies have a lot of trouble with the idea that an Olympic athlete trains fewer hours per week than they could fit into their normie life. Same could very easily go for mental athletes, from what I’ve read already.
One big thing that’s missing from my activity list is visualization ability. I’d bet it’s possible to train up to Tesla’s level given the right training plan and an unlimited supply of milk. This subject came up once, I think somewhere in this mess: http://lymcanada.org/riemman-for-anti-dummies/. It would be hard to find the quote in that link, but the idea was that part of training in math should be the ability to visualize graphs in 2D and space with extreme precision and acuity.
It pains me to suggest it, but something like a Solidworks competition would probably be the best way. One would certainly begin to dream in Solidworks. Drawing/drafting would be good, but painting is a little too impressionistic to translate into the 3D rotation subtest of the WAIS. Art appreciation would actually be great, except how do you turn that into measurable performance? Minecraft may actually be a good entry-level trainer.