Delicious Luminosity, Om Nom Nom

I have decided that it would be valuable for me to read books (blog posts, articles, random conversations between smart people who store chatlogs) about introspection, take notes, and try to distill and clarify the information.  This could result in me eventually giving up, or in a Luminosity Sequence: Second Edition (Now With Literature, Part Of This Complete Breakfast!), or (optimism!) me being able to sort ~90% of people into some number of categories such that their category membership tells me how to help them develop luminosity superpowers in N simple steps with exercises/therapy-ish stuff/etc.

Help me eat luminosity!  I need recommendations for stuff to read.  This stuff should be:

  • readable (I will not long slog through something I'm stylistically allergic to)
  • not obvious nonsense (but if it didn't work on you/your personal friends, that's not "obvious nonsense", it could be cognitive heterogeneity; I just want to filter out crap like "The Secret")
  • something I can probably get my hands on (library, 100% legal! electronic acquisition, it being on the Internet).

I read really fast.  Don't worry about oversaturating me with recommendations, but please do say a little about why you recommend a thing (even if it's "I haven't read this, but I keep hearing about it, so I guess some people like it") and post recommendations in separate comments so people with information about the item can vote up and down separately.  Recommendations for non-written things will be heavily discounted but not outright disqualified.

I would also like a supply of guinea-pigs-in-waiting for if and when I get to the point of trying the sorting or the superpower-giving part of the optimistic end state of the project.

If people want me to, I can document the process of luminosity-eating so there is a template to follow for other subject-eating projects, but I wouldn't do this by default because in general I only do things that someone would care if I didn't do them.

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There's Yvain's Limits of Introspection post, which links to a paper on the scientific study of what we can access introspectively. Yvain isn't exaggarating when he calls it a "classic": Google Scholar lists over 6000 cites.

You may also wish to take a look at the papers citing it to see if there's anything more recent that's relevant, though from a brief glance it looked like the top results were about something else than introspection entirely. Still, there are probably more relevant results buried there somewhere.

What's the point of trying to justify it after the fact? Unless you do some sort of systematic literature review, this is just going to be an exercise in confirmation bias.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Introspection. As usual (based on my brief skim of the article), SEP has good coverage of the topic and provides plenty of references for looking more into the topic. Among other things, it covers both the history of introspection in science, from its early rise to its decline to its modern re-emergence, as well as a discussion about the accuracy of introspection.

The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome by Tony Attwood seemed like applying luminosity to the particular problems of Aspergers. It might be useful, for a compare and contrast with your method, if nothing else.

Btw, I might not have gotten to the Luminousity sequence if not for this post, so thanks for posting.

Wikipedia on Focusing. I have no idea of how useful this is, but it's apparently an introspection technique that's used in psychotherapy and disciplines related to it. To the extent that you consider psychotherapy to be of some use, it might be worth looking into.

Despite the common view about psychotherapy being nonsense, there are reviews suggesting that it often does no worse than cognitive behavior therapy or other more "fashionable" forms of therapy.

"The User's Guide to the Human Mind" by Shawn T. Smith. It's a self-help book centered around the idea that the best way to cope with undesirable mental phenomena is to observe them with detachement, accept them and move on. Surprisingly, it manages to turn that idea from a vaguely eastern-sounding piece of mumbo-jumbo into something actionable and effective in practice. Well, at least for me it did.

It seems to be based on ideas of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which is a recent offshoot of CBT. The book doesn't mention this explicitly -- I'm guessing based on the things it cites and the similarity between it's ideas and the description in the Wikipedia article. And said article contains a longish list of relevant books so chance of successful information acquisition through library infiltration is high.

Amanda Baggs's blog, currently at, has a lot of introspection / self-discovery material by a person who is both quite intelligent and quite far from neurotypical; as well as a lot of material that should be precautionary for any therapeutic or other-optimizing approach.

On Anger by Seneca

This is the oldest and simplest work that deals with introspection that I know of. It is probably worth a read even if you weren't doing this kind of research. Also, it is short and the modern translations are easy to read.

Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha

This is a book about the technical aspects of meditation. I haven't finished it yet (nor put it into practice), but it seems like a very low woo-factor book on introspection practice.

I don't have specific recommendations, but Gurdjieff and Ouspensky did a lot with self-observation. The only specifics I remember is that there was considerable concern about whether you were really observing yourself or just kidding yourself that you were doing so, and there was some mention of finding out what you were doing that saw a waste of energy, and ceasing to do those things.

In addition to my glowing cavy army (er, I mean, my luminosity guinea pigs) I would like a volunteer or three who is not also a guinea pig and who is not already my close personal friend to sanity-check methodologies I develop before I contaminate my glowing cavy army (that is to say, my luminosity guinea pigs) with any input. (Close personal friends may also be consulted but I should probably have at least one or two less interested parties.)

I'd be willing to help with that, but I'm never sure how helpful others find my feedback and advice.

Now you are on my List of Doom. If I don't think you're helpful it'll be pretty easy to ignore you.

Volunteer guinea pigs, please email me ( or IM me (AIM: Alicorn24; MSN:; Gtalk: