"Epiphany addiction"

by cousin_it 1 min read3rd Aug 201294 comments


LW doesn't seem to have a discussion of the article Epiphany Addiction, by Chris at succeedsocially. First paragraph:

"Epiphany Addiction" is an informal little term I came up with to describe a process that I've observed happen to people who try to work on their personal issues. How it works is that someone will be trying to solve a problem they have, say a lack of confidence around other people. Somehow they'll come across a piece of advice or a motivational snippet that will make them have an epiphany or a profound realization. This often happens when people are reading self-help materials and they come across something that stands out to them. People can also come up with epiphanies themselves if they're doing a lot of writing and reflecting in an attempt to try and analyze their problems.

I like that article because it describes a dangerous failure mode of smart people. One example was the self-help blog of Phillip Eby (pjeby), where each new post seemed to bring new amazing insights, and after a while you became jaded. An even better, though controversial, example could be Eliezer's Sequences, if you view them as a series of epiphanies about AI research that didn't lead to much tangible progress. (Please don't make that statement the sole focus of discussion!)

The underlying problem seems to be that people get a rush of power from neat-sounding realizations, and mistake that feeling for actual power. I don't know any good remedy for that, but being aware of the problem could help.