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Firstly, this post is awesome.

Secondly though, this post brushes on the topic of intuition as a useful tool, something I think far too many Logic-Based types throw out without considering the practicality of. It's better not to think of it as being an substitute for logical thinking, but rather as a quick and dirty backup, for when you don't have all the information.

Intuition can occur in up to two seconds, operates almost completely below conscious awareness, and begins effecting your body immediately. Here are some excerpts from Blink, a book by Malcolm Gladwell, in which he researches how intuition works, what abilities and drawbacks it has, and what biases can effect it's overall usefulness.

In front of you are four decks of cards, two of them red and the other two blue. Each card in those four decks either wins you a sum of money or costs you some money, and your job is to turn over cards from any the decks, one at a time, in such a way that maximizes your winnings.*

Ah, a perfect opportunity to be a Logical Thinker, using careful observation and reasoning to find the ideal pattern. What path does intuition take though?

What you don't know at the beginning however, is that the red decks are a minefield. The rewards are high, but when you lose on the red cards, you lose a lot. Actually, you can win only by taking cards from the blue decks, which offer a nice steady diet of $50 payouts and modest penalties. The question is how long will it take you to figure this out? After about fifty cards or so, people start to develop a hunch about what's going on. We don't know why we prefer the blue decks, but we're pretty sure at that point that they are a better bet. After turning about eighty cards, most of us have figured out the game and can explain exactly why the first two decks are a bad idea.

This is all standard enough, but what is more impressive is the fact that people started generating stress responses to the red decks by the tenth card.

That's right, palms began to sweat in reaction to the red decks almost immediately, naturally pushing people towards the blue decks before they could even understand why, or even recognize what they were doing.

In those moments, our brain uses two very different strategies to make sense of the situation. The first is the one we're most familiar with. It's the conscious strategy. We think about what we've learned, and eventually we come up with an answer. This strategy is logical and definitive. But it takes us eighty cards to get there. It's slow, and it needs a lot of information. There's a second strategy, though. It operates a lot more quickly. It starts to kick in after ten cards, and it's really smart, because it picks up the problem with the red decks almost immediately.

There are better examples of applied Intuition in Blink, but I've purposefully only used one of the earlier examples in the Amazon Sampler to respect the book. I'd recommend reading the whole thing though, especially if you're interested in understanding what it does while you're thinking things through.

He who knows nothing is further from the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors, but has the courage to acknowledge them as so.

-LessWrong Community

Sorry this has come so late, but I've been really puzzling over your statement about intelligence. What type of intelligence are you referring to when you say my maximum is fixed?

Are you saying something similar to, "I can practice baseball every day for 30 years, and improve by a huge margin, but I will only be ever so good, simply because my mind will only ever go so fast, and my body can only strengthen so much?"

He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.

-Thomas Jefferson

Records definitely sound like a good idea. I've found that I'm very poor at judging how much progress I've made one something, (usually underestimate), and having some solid information sounds like the perfect solution to this problem. In addition, it should let me decide the next course of action off of numbers, rather than vague feelings on the situation.

As for social skills, it's already on my "High Priority" list of things to do. When researching things I try to collect information from a wide range of perspectives, and see what people agree on. Recently I've been looking into Con Artistry, the entire purpose of which is to make friends quickly and effectively, so you can exploit and subtly manipulate them. A very roundabout way of looking into psychology, but a lot of the things I've read on the topic match with demonstrated social experiments.

Programming has been recommended three times now, which marks it as something definitely worth looking into. Perhaps I can eventually get into one of those Prisoner's Dilemma competitions, after a long time studying of course.

Thank you for your advice, I will take it into consideration.

Ah, so the confidence spiral approach? I've been getting that recommendation a lot lately, which is a good sign that it's effective. Anki is another good point too, I've started using it for memorizing the LessWrong Sequences, and intend to use as a resource for school when that starts, or anything in general that I'd like to memorize.

I appreciate your input, I'll see about trying SICP as well.

Excellent point, I'll definitely want to incorporate compounding actions immediately, and as far as exercise goes, I make it a point to do it every day I can, which is most days.

The reason I started was simply because I didn't want to be out of shape, but then I read spark, which makes the case that exercise not only improves the brain, but also increases happiness and productivity.

I'm assuming you came across the same information, one way or another. Thanks for the input.

On August 4th, I will be turning 15, and I've decided to initiate a very large project, which for lack of a better name, I will dub "The Plan".

I intend to spend the days leading up to my 15th Birthday by taking information from an enormous variety of sources on what life improvements can be made, what skills are most useful, and what areas should be studied, to reach the ultimate goal of gaining as much benefit possible, as quick as possible.

There's tons of things to consider, even assuming I have a tireless work ethic and can implement this immediately. What types of utility increases are there? Which are more important? Should all time be devoted to the quickest increases in utility, or should energy be set aside for starting some long term goals early? Does it make more sense to improve yourself, so you can make more money? Or to make some money, and use it to improve yourself?

Obviously I'm not going to find a perfect answer, and attempting to plan out my whole life is doomed to fail, but I'd at least like to have a better idea of where to go from here. (Besides, I'll still have learned a lots of useful information.)

So, I pose this question to the LessWrong Community:

If you were me, and turning 15, what would you recommend that I do over the next year, to give me the biggest utility bonus the fastest, both in skill and wealth?

Hopefully, even if it proves an impossible question, we'll see some interesting discussion.

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