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Preview: Scott H Young

Scott H Young


Last Build Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2018 16:52:03 +0000


How Successful Was the MIT Challenge?

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 16:52:03 +0000

By far the most popular project I’ve done publicly has been the MIT Challenge. Starting nearly seven years ago, in the fall of 2011, the idea was to learn the curriculum of MIT’s four year computer science undergrad, evaluate myself by trying to pass the final exams, complete the programming projects and finish in one […]

Book Club: The Elephant In The Brain (February 2018)

Tue, 06 Mar 2018 17:10:15 +0000

This month we read The Elephant In The Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson. About the book: Human beings are primates, and primates are political animals. Our brains, therefore, are designed not just to hunt and gather, but also to help us get ahead socially, often via deception and self-deception. But while we may […]

Lesson One: How much of your career is running to stay in the same spot?

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:34:22 +0000

In Lewis Carol’s novella Through the Looking Glass, there’s a quirky little dialog between Alice and the Red Queen: “‘Well, in our country,’ said Alice, still panting a little, ‘you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.’ “‘A slow sort of country!’ said […]

Further Notes on “Rethinking Discipline”

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:15:08 +0000

Last week I published an article arguing for a different hypothesis about how self-discipline works. The standard idea, which even had decent scientific backing, was that willpower was a resource that could be depleted like a fuel. Now the evidence behind this view is a bit shakier, so I wanted to suggest an alternative: self-discipline […]

Rethinking Discipline

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 17:52:45 +0000

What is self-discipline? I think everyone has at least a hazy picture of what it means to be self-disciplined. From the outside, self-discipline looks like suppressing impulses to do things you shouldn’t do. Self-discipline means not eating too much, not succumbing to the temptation to check your phone every two minutes, ignoring what you want […]

Set Goals in the Middle

Wed, 31 Jan 2018 21:50:11 +0000

Classic goal-setting theory says that you first set a goal, then you make a plan to achieve it and finally you start taking action. Recently, I’ve begun to question the wisdom of this approach. Now, I’m inclined to believe that, for certain types of efforts, you’re better of setting goals in the middle. At first […]

Book Club: Seeing Like A State (January 2018)

Thu, 25 Jan 2018 20:54:27 +0000

This month we read Seeing Like A State by James C. Scott Compulsory ujamaa villages in Tanzania, collectivization in Russia, Le Corbusier’s urban planning theory realized in Brasilia, the Great Leap Forward in China, agricultural “modernization” in the Tropics―the twentieth century has been racked by grand utopian schemes that have inadvertently brought death and disruption to millions. […]

How Much Faster Can You Learn?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 23:58:24 +0000

Say you were to optimize everything you possibly could for a particular learning goal. You used the best time-management system, you picked exactly the right tasks that would drive learning improvement, you applied tremendous motivation and effort. How much faster could you learn something than the status quo would expect? The answer, of course, will […]

What’s Next?

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 19:59:39 +0000

Completing a big project or achieving a goal can lead to an unexpected experience. Part of you feels proud and satisfied—you did the thing you wanted to do. But another part of you can end up feeling totally lost. On the one hand, completing a hard-won project has given you the thing you set out […]

Choose Your Signal Wisely

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 19:39:47 +0000

Psychological research has demonstrated that human beings are particularly susceptible to what are called framing effects. These are differences in the way we respond to a situation, based on how it is framed for us, rather than on its substance. To take a particularly striking example, American physicians were presented with the following scenario: “The […]