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Meditation Trains Metacognition

I've read his newest book, "Meditating Selflessly: Practical Neural Zen", that seems to be aimed more at a layperson than "Zen and the Brain". It also talks a bit about his speculations about what meditation does in the brain, along with some recommendations on meditation. It might be too speculative though.

He also has a third book, perhaps that is a happy medium? Depending on how motivated you are, you might even try one of those Human Brain coloring books...

How to Learn from Experts

There are a couple chapters in there on the subject, but it's probably not the best book specifically for that subject. I haven't read it yet, but "Working Minds: A Practitioner's Guide to Cognitive Task Analysis " looks pretty good. One of the people behind the method wrote several books for a general audience and one of them, "The Power of Intuition" (not what it sounds like) has a few tips on how to learn from experts:

*Probe for specific incidents and stories. This is not the same thing as listening to war stories. It means selecting incidents where intuition was needed, and expertise was challenged, and then digging into the details.

*Ask about cues and patterns. Try to find out what the expert was noticing while making sense of the situation. You want to uncover types of discriminations that the expert has learned to make, types of patterns the expert has learned to recognize. The decision-making critique can suggest lines of questioning.

There's more, but I don't want to quote too much... One of the other tips is to ask how a novice would approach things vs how they would. He also recommends avoiding asking for general theories, the experts may not really be able to describe how/what they do without having a story to guide them.

Reading habits/techniques/strategies (second post on the topic)

Thanks for putting this together. I came across a couple related links recently that I've found helpful : Ryan Holiday's note taking methods Ryan Holiday on "Digesting books above your level"

Please share your reading habits/techniques/strategies

That is a good point, I've only just begun to look into it, so I don't have any general recommendations. It just seemed like as I was coming up with a reading list on reading, some books seemed to pop up in Amazon's "people also bought" section. I think part of it is because the guy who wrote "How to Read a Book" was heavily influenced by Thomas Aquinas. I also looked up hermeneutics afterwards and it seemed appropriate for what I was trying to do. One key takeaway seems to be looking at reading as work...

One book that I was looking at was "Inductive Bible Study: A Comprehensive Guide to the Practice of Hermeneutics" by Traina, as the table of contents looked interesting (survey of books as wholes, survey of parts as wholes, selecting questions and formulating premises, drawing inferences, evaluating and appropriating, correlation,...). Haven't got to it yet though.

Please share your reading habits/techniques/strategies

I've recently made an effort to start getting more out of the reading that I do, I think one of the simplest things to do is to close the book every few minutes and summarize what you've just read. Writing down those summaries is even more effective. I'm sure people who post reviews and summaries (see some of the recent ones posted here for example) have a far better understanding of the material than if they just read it.

One book that might be helpful is "How To Read A Book" by Mortimer Adler. It talks about different stages of reading, questions to ask yourself, and other strategies. If you don't want to buy the book (it's fairly cheap), there are numerous summaries online. If you buy it though, you get a free book to practice on. Here is an excerpt on reading multiple books on a given topic:

I. Surveying the Field Preparatory to Syntopical Reading

  1. Create a tentative bibliography of your subject by recourse to library catalogues, advisors, and bibliographies in books.
  2. Inspect all of the books on the tentative bibliography to ascertain which are germane to your subject, and also to acquire a clearer idea of the subject. Note: These two steps are not, strictly speaking, chronologically distinct; that is, the two steps have an effect on each other, with the second, in particular, serving to modify the first.

II. Syntopical Reading of the Bibliography Amassed in Stage I

  1. Inspect the books already identified as relevant to your subject in Stage I in order to find the most relevant passages.
  2. Bring the authors to terms by constructing a neutral terminology of the subject that all, or the great majority, of the authors can be interpreted as employing, whether they actually employ the words or not.
  3. Establish a set of neutral propositions for all of the authors by framing a set of questions to which all or most of the authors can be interpreted as giving answers, whether they actually treat the questions explicitly or not.
  4. Define the issues, both major and minor ones, by ranging the opposing answers of authors to the various questions on one side of an issue or another. You should remember that an issue does not always exist explicitly between or among authors, but that it sometimes has to be constructed by interpretation of the authors’ views on matters that may not have been their primary concern.
  5. Analyze the discussion by ordering the questions and issues in such a way as to throw maximum light on the subject. More general issues should precede less general ones, and relations among issues should be clearly indicated. Note: Dialectical detachment or objectivity should, ideally, be maintained throughout. One way to insure this is always to accompany an interpretation of an author’s views on an issue with an actual quotation from his text.

Another book I'm looking into (but haven't yet read) is Cognitive Productivity. Also, if you are open to it, you might consider reading a book on studying the Bible. It's really a series of connected books with lots of self reference and people have been studying it for a long time, so there is a lot on the topic. It's called Hermeneutics, and while I used the Bible as an example (because of the wealth of material on its study) hermeneutics is used elsewhere (other religious traditions, law, philosophy, etc).

One thousand tips do not make a system

I've advocated Gary Klein's work here before (Deliberate Practice for Decision Making ), you may find his latest book Streetlights and Shadows interesting.

The problem is that procedures are a system that describes how to react, but the model of reality that those procedures are based on is incomplete and may be contradictory (see Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem, though I may be generalizing it too much). The Drefus Model of Expertise lines up fairly well with your final questions, particularly the "Expert" stage. Unfortunately, it describe how one can develop that expertise or the answers to the questions.

Thoughts on designing policies for oneself

The problem is that we don't know if Einstein not being neuortypical is the cause of his genius, or the result of a lifetime of thinking in a certain way. Brains aren't static and can change over time, it's entirely possible he was born with a neurotypical brain that became aytpical over the course of his life.

[Draft] Productive Use of Heuristics and Biases

After doing a bit more reading here and thinking about your comments, I think I'll focus on the 7 methods and eliminate much of the low quality fluff that make up the intro/conclusion for the next version.

I think some of my confusion was due to unsubstantiated assumptions about the standard views of LessWrong. What I've been thinking of bias is closer to Inductive bias than the standard definition, which refers to error patterns. I then interpreted rationality as "overcoming bias". Inductive bias can be useful, and the idea of overcoming bias of that type seemed to be taking things too far. That doesn't seem to be what anyone is actually advocating here though.

Again, thanks.

[Draft] Productive Use of Heuristics and Biases

I agree that the only way to practice decisions is to make them, but I think there is more to it than that. The deliberate part of deliberate practice is that you are actively trying to get better. The deliberate performance paper I linked to touches on this a bit, in that deliberate practice is challenging for professionals and that something else might work better (they advocate the first 5 methods in that paper).

Beyond making decisions, you need to have an expectation of what will happen, otherwise hindsight bias is that much harder to overcome. It's the scientific method: hypothesis->test->new hypothesis. Without defining what you expect ahead of time, it is much easier to just say "Oh yeah, this makes sense" and normalize without actually improving understanding.

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