Look on my works, ye Mighty, and e-mail them to your entire contacts list.
Practical and self-development posts
- Did you know that women in the 1700s would put poison in their eyes to maximize their allure? I was fed up with pick up artists pushing the power eye contact without any evidence, so I dug into the literature and wrote an evidenced-based article on eye prolonged contact.
- People overvalue shiny, new technologies, and undervalue old, super-effective technologies, like the checklist. If you’re not already a checklist zealot, you’ll benefit from this review of the effectiveness of checklists.
- Life can be thought of as a series of problems, so I wrote a post about the science of problem solving.
- Humans are habit executors: machines that just replay the same behaviors over and over, plus how you can hack your own habit formation in pursuit of your goals.
- On human expertise and the role long-term memory plays in skill improvement and human cognition.
- On modeling yourself as not one agent, but many competing agents that happen to share a head.
- Richard Hamming famously said, “If you don’t work on an important problem, it’s unlikely you’ll do important work,” so I wrote about what it is that makes a problem important.
Computers and software
- How to use software to improve your writing.
- Once I became convinced that long-term memory places a central role in expertise, I started to commit lots of stuff to memory. After memorizing my 10,000th flashcard, I wrote a retrospective on what I’d learned along with anki tips. (Check out also my post on the importance of “Why?” questions.)
- Simulated annealing is a beautiful heuristic search algorithm, although don’t let that jargon turn you off! I’ve put together a picture guide to simulated annealing.
I’ve made a lot of lists of surprising stuff, like…
- Did you know that there are probably about four unobserved planet-like objects that are three times the size of Pluto, the largest may be as large as Earth or Mars?
- Or that male dolphins have been observed wrapping a wriggling eel around their penises, as a form of masturbation?
- What about that more expensive wine doesn’t taste better?
- Or that, in 2013, $5.3 trillion dollars changed hands daily in foreign exchange markets?
- How about that people with wet earwax have stronger body odor?
- Did you know that there used to be a flying reptile that was as tall as a giraffe?
- Or that winning the lottery makes people more right-wing?
- What about that men and women both find the opposite sex more attractive when they wear the color red?
- How about that marriages arranged through the mail-order services would appear to have a lower divorce rate than the nation as a whole?
- And I maintain a very popular list of data sets.
Mathematics and relationships
- I’ve written a bit about the intersection between mathematics and human relationships. My writeup of the secretary problem, for example, is about how to decide when to stop dating and settle down, while my post on the stable marriage problem is about how to pair people off such that there’s no risk of divorce.
- There’s been a lot of buzz around category theory, and I wanted to know what it was about, so I found out.
- Interested in math jokes? See also this one. Or how about quotes?
- Why do people bother with mathematical proof, anyways?
- If a man has at least one boy child, what are the odds that the other is a boy? (It’s not what you think!)
- Math as worldbuilding.
- Picasso as a mathematician.
- Are women more likely to break up with men or vice versa?
- I once wrote about the curious tendency of women to be vegans.
Original research and creativity
- I’ve done some original research on the relationship between creativity and compression. To understand it, you should first read this post, and then check out my post testing the theory on literature and non-creative works, and my follow up, testing the theory on creative and exceptionally creative works.
- In the same vein, I’ve written a few different posts on creativity, including one on how Zach Weinersmith (of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal fame) comes up with his ideas, about incrementalism, and about brainstorming via narrowing.
- I’ve written a number of theory or idea posts, sort of stabs at explanations. The most popular explains how people online are like vampire bats and is on why online communities decay over time.
- Science as algorithm discovery.
- Herbert Simon’s Ant: how complex seeming behavior can arise from complex environments and simple agents.
- Did you know that there’s a type of sea slug that can undergo photosynthesis after eating plants and sting after consuming jellyfish? This and more in my post on why we should all identify as a sponge.
- In which I propose a new way to think about rules and rule-breaking.
- Could universes evolve and reproduce via black holes?
- When trying something new, start with the dumbest thing that could work and then iterate.
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