So many self-help books are either crap because their content is worthless or painful to read because they have such a low content-to-word ratio for any reasonable metric. I want just the facts.

I've found that "just the facts" doesn't really work for self-help, because you need to a) be able to remember the advice b) believe on an emotional, not just rational level that it works and c) be actually motivated to implement the advice. This usually necessitates having the giver of advice drum it into you a whole bunch of different ways over the course of the eight hours or so spent reading the book.

Have reading groups reviewing books of interest. Post summaries of books of interest or reviews. Discuss the cutting edge of practical research, if relevant to our lifes. This is staying with your observation that most practically interesting stuff is already written.

One problem with this is that "reviewing" self-help books is hard because ultimately the judge of a good self-help book is whether or not it helps you, and you can't judge that until a few months down the road. Plus there can be an infinity of confounding factors.

But I can see your point. Making practical instrumentality issues more of a theme of the conversation here is appealing to me. Cut down on the discussion of boring, useless things (to me, of course) like Newcomb's problem and utility functions and instead discuss how to be happy and how to make money.

However, I have seen a few people complain about how LessWrong's quality is deteriorating because the discussion is being overrun with "self-help". So not everyone feels this way, for whatever reason.

I've found that "just the facts" doesn't really work for self-help, because you need to a) be able to remember the advice b) believe on an emotional, not just rational level that it works and c) be actually motivated to implement the advice. This usually necessitates having the giver of advice drum it into you a whole bunch of different ways over the course of the eight hours or so spent reading the book.

Very true and a good observation. My reading of stoic practice informs this further: They had their sayings and short lists of "just the... (read more)

Open thread, July 16-22, 2013

by David_Gerard 1 min read15th Jul 2013305 comments

15


If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.


Given the discussion thread about these, let's try calling this a one-week thread, and see if anyone bothers starting one next Monday.