What makes you different from Tim Ferriss?

by SuspiciousTitForTat 2 min read21st Jun 201346 comments


Do not read this if you don't know anything about this Tim Ferriss person

I suspect anyone here is less different from Tim Ferriss than they'd like to be able to justifiably claim (see here, here, here, here). 

I don't mean Tim the Result. Results are clouded by what has been brought to attention in one of the 2009/2010 rationality quotes here

Were it possible to trace the succession of ideas in the mind of Sir Isaac Newton, during the time that he made his greatest discoveries, I make no doubt but our amazement at the extent of his genius would a little subside. But if, when a man publishes his discoveries, he either through a design, or through habit, omit the intermediary steps by which he himself arrived at them, it is no wonder that his speculations confound them, and that the generality of mankind stand amazed at his reach of thought. If a man ascend to the top of a building by the help of a common ladder, but cut away most of the steps after he has done with them, leaving only every ninth of tenth step, the view of the ladder, in the condition which he has pleased to exhibit it, gives us a prodigious, but unjust view of the man who could have made use of it. But if he had intended that any body should follow him, he should have left the ladder as he constructed it, or perhaps as he found it, for it might have been a mere accident that threw it in his way... I think that the interests of science have suffered by the excessive admiration and wonder with which several first rate philosophers are considered, and that an opinion of the greater equality of mankind, in point of genius, and power of understanding, would be of real service in the present age." - Joseph Priestly, The History and present State of Electricity

I mean Tim the method.

The varieties of achievements he's done are behaviourally distinct from living normal life. They are not so complicated to learn though. 

I invite you to ask the following question: What is one thing he's done I haven't that probably I could do, and what is the explanation I invented to myself for not having done it? Do I truly believe this explanation? Think for a minute before reading more

When I ask this to friends who read some of his stuff, I see three kinds of answers:

This is impossible for anyone who doesn't have property X (where X is always a fixed characteristic, like place of birth, blondness, impeccable genetic motivation)

We have very different values, and there is no point in trying that about which I don't care - interestingly, with every new book, there are more interests on the table to be considered "not my values", but no one suddenly came to me and said: Wow, finally he cares about throwing knives! I have reason to try after all. Are my friends values narrowing in proportion to Tim's expansions?

There are a lot of people who don't want to have more money, learn languages, work less, or travel a lot, but there are much fewer people who besides all of those don't want to exercise effectively, learn quickly, improve their sex lives, throw knives, memorize card decks, program, dance tango, become an angel investor, be famous, write books, cook well, get thinner, read quicker, contact interesting people, outsource boring stuff and so on...

The third kind is personal attack. People claim he has property E, which makes him Evil, and his evil either is proof of the falsity of his accomplishments, or is proof that emulating Tim means you are a dark creature who shall not pass through the gates of heaven. The most interesting E's are "He's a brilliant marketing man, selling profitable lies, but marketing is Evil." "He doesn't understand survivor bias, and how lucky he was, and has not read outliers to know it takes min4000 hours to get good at stuff" "He's a good looking ivy league blonde, this makes him evil" (this girl probably had in mind Nietzsche's lamb morality, from Genealogy of Morals).

What is one thing he's done you haven't that probably you could do, and what is the explanation you invented to yourself for not having done it? Do you truly believe this explanation? Would your best rationalist friend truly believe that explanation?