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Scott H Young


Last Build Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 23:09:16 +0000


Book Club: Average Is Over (November 2017)

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 17:51:54 +0000

Last month we read Average Is Over by Tyler Cowen. In this eye-opening book, renowned economist and bestselling author Tyler Cowen explains that high earners are taking ever more advantage of machine intelligence in data analysis and achieving ever-better results. Meanwhile, low earners who haven’t committed to learning, to making the most of new technologies, have […]

Know Your Competition

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 01:16:30 +0000

Almost all human accomplishments are, directly or indirectly, judged in competition with others. This is most directly true in domains such as sports or entertainment, where awards and trophies go to some, and not others. What matters here isn’t absolute performance, but relative performance. Absolute performance can often go up and up, yet because it […]

Are Successful People Just Putting in More Effort?

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 23:09:08 +0000

As someone who writes advice for a living, I’m always interested in the ways advice works, how it gets distorted and what the typical advice-receiver can do about it. Recently, I came across some research that suggests a new way advice-givers aren’t being totally honest with you: paternalistic advice bias. Here’s the abstract, from the […]

How Much Can You Possibly Learn?

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:59:51 +0000

How much can the brain store? We all know how much our computers and phones can store, if only because we occasionally get the pings of messages telling us we’ve taken too many photos or downloaded too many apps or movies and something has to be deleted to store more. The brain doesn’t seem to […]

Is Reading Blogs Like This One Keeping You From Improving Your Life?

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 00:32:19 +0000

One idea I’ve been pondering over lately is to what extent reading about self-improvement is a complement versus a substitute for taking self-improvement action. Complements and substitutes are terms that come from economics. A complement to a product is something you buy more of when you buy the product. Think popcorn and movies. The more […]

Is the Brain Like a Muscle? Lessons from Debunking a Seductive, But Incorrect, Idea

Tue, 31 Oct 2017 23:39:14 +0000

We often reason through analogies. When something is confusing, we can try to tie it back to something we understand better. Very often, this process it at the heart of scientific understanding. Charles Darwin formed his famous theory of evolution through natural selection by forming an analogy with artificial selection, the process of human intervention […]

Book Club: Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes (October 2017)

Mon, 23 Oct 2017 20:06:34 +0000

  This month we read Daniel Everett’s Don’t Sleep There Snakes: Life & Language in the Amazonian Jungle. This book is a memoir of the famed linguist and anthropologist Daniel Everett and his journey into the Pirahã tribe in the Amazonian jungle.  Normally I invite a guest to discuss this topic but this time I’m […]

Help Me Research My Next Book

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 21:06:31 +0000

I’m working on a new book about ultralearning, the style of aggressive self-education in the MIT Challenge and Year Without English, and I’d like your help. One of my goals in the book is to feature stories and examples of excellent self-directed learning. To do that, I’m not only hunting down contemporary examples of people […]

Cultivating the Skill of Figuring Things Out

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 17:18:27 +0000

There’s a skill I’ve noticed some people possess which, for lack of a better term, I’ll call the ability to figure things out. Some people are really good at figuring things out. Give them an ambiguous problem and they’ll investigate, try things out, push through frustration and solve it. Other people are terrible at figuring […]

How Ben Franklin Learned to Write Persuasively

Mon, 02 Oct 2017 19:36:31 +0000

Ben Franklin was an incredible writer. In addition to his role in writing the United States Constitution, he was also a bestselling author, with his Poor Richard’s Almanac selling in the tens of thousands per year. Writing and changing minds being so important to his success in life, it’s worth asking how he managed to […]