Note 1: I'm not very serious about the second part of the title, I just thought it sounds more catchy. I'm a long time lurker writing here for the first time, and it's not my intention to alienate anyone. Also, hi, nice to meet you. Please leave a comment to achieve a result of making me happy about you having left a comment. But let's get to the point.
I think you might be familiar with TED Talks. Recall the last time you watched one, and how you felt while doing it.
[BZRT BZRT sound of imagination working]
In my case, I often got the feeling like if I was learning something valuable while watching most TED Talks. The speakers are (mostly) obviously passionate and intelligent people, speaking about important matters they care about a lot. (Granted, I probably haven't watched more than a dozen TED Talks in all my life, so my sample is quite small, but I think it isn't very unrepresentative.)
But at some point, I started asking myself afterwards:
So, what have I actually learned?
Which translates in my internal dialect to:
For each major point, give a one-sentence summary and at least one example of how I could apply it.
(Note 2: don't treat this "one sentence summary" thing too strictly - of course it's only a reflex/shorthand that is useful in many situations, but not all. I like it because it's simple enough that it's installable as a subconscious trigger-action.)
And I could not state afterwards anything actually useful that I have learned from those "fascinating" videos (with at most one or two small exceptions).
This is exactly what I mean by "Education as Entertainment".
It's getting the enjoyable *feeling* of learning without any real progress.
[DUM DUM DUM sound of increasing dramatism]
And now, what if you use this concept to look at rationality materials?
For me, reading the core Eliezer's braindump (basically the content of "From AI to Zombies"), as well as braindumps (in the form of blogs) of several other people from the LW community, had definite learning value.
I take notes when I read those, and I have an accountability system in place that enables me to make sure I follow up on all the advice I give to myself, test the new ideas, and improve/drop/replace/implement as needed.
However, when I read (a significant part of) the content produced by the "modern" community-powered-LessWrong, I classify its actual learning value at around the same level as TED Talks.
Or YouTube videos with cats, only those don't give me the *impression* that I'm learning something.
Please let me know what you think.
Final Note: Please take my remarks with a grain of salt. What I write is meant to inspire thoughts in you, not to represent my best factual knowledge about the LW community.