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My friends, a new MEGATHREAD has arrived! In 40 tweets I’ll explain 40 useful concepts you should know. Reading time: ~7 minutes. Value: a lifetime. Thread:
1. Gruen Effect: Ever notice how when you enter a large grocery store, common items like bread & milk are right at the back, and the journey there is labyrinthine? The layout is designed to confuse you, so you become lost, and end up impulse-buying items you don't need.
2. Procrastivity We often avoid work by doing something else that feels productive so we don't feel guilty. For example, endlessly researching productivity hacks instead of actually being productive. Beware that your brain can justify procrastination by disguising it as progress.
3. The Grey Rock Method: Reacting emotionally to trolls and other toxic people only gives them what they want—your time & energy—which encourages further trolling & abuse. As such, the best way to get them to stop is to become unresponsive to their provocations.
4. Solomon's Paradox: We're better at solving other people's problems than our own, because detachment yields objectivity. But Kross et al (2014) found viewing oneself in the 3rd person yields the same detachment, so when trying to help yourself, imagine you're helping a friend.
5. Zeigarnik Effect: Our brains are goal-focused, so we have better recall of unfinished tasks than finished ones. Exploit this by taking your breaks halfway through tasks. If you write, end the day mid-sentence so that when you return you'll find it easier to get rolling again.
6. Kurtosis Risk: "More people are killed by bees than terrorists, so why do we spend so much fighting terrorism?" The answer is that death rates =/= risk. The most a bee can do is kill a person. The most a terrorist can do is nuke a city. Current rates ignore future potential.
7. Howard Hughes Syndrome: Everyone always lies to the powerful, to curry favor or avoid punishment. Hearing nothing but flattery causes the most powerful people to develop the most distorted views of reality, and their vast influence means we all pay the price. h/t: @KPaxs
8. False Consensus Effect: We assume everyone is like us, so our beliefs about others are derived from our knowledge of ourselves. Predictions of others' behavior often tell us more about the predictor, and accusations often tell us more about the accuser.
9. Deferred Happiness Syndrome The common feeling that your life has not begun, that your present reality is a mere prelude to some idyllic future. This idyll is a mirage that'll fade as you approach, revealing that the prelude you rushed through was in fact the one to your death
10. Permission Structure: People don't want to change their mind for fear of looking stupid, so give them a way to change without looking stupid. E.g. instead of simply telling someone they're wrong, tell them you thought like them but had your mind changed by new information.
11. Babble Hypothesis: According to multiple studies, what best predicts whether someone becomes a leader? Their experience? Their IQ? No! The amount of time they spend talking. It doesn't even matter what they say, just how much they say it. We suck at picking leaders.
12. Granfalloon: We categorize people into meaningless groups: the physics "community," the black "community." The people in these "communities" often have little in common, but we treat them like they think with one mind, and shockingly, some even claim to speak for them.
13. Social Influence Bias: You can't trust customer ratings, because each rating is influenced by the previous ones. People will rate something higher if the current rating is very low or very high. The result is that many things have far higher customer ratings than they should.
14. Rolestorming: Having trouble being creative? Then pretend you're someone else, maybe Winston Churchill, or Lady Gaga, or Yoda. Continue to do your work while roleplaying as that person, imagining how they'd do your job. Enable you to think outside the box, this will.
15. Psychogenetic Fallacy: Instead of assessing an opponent's claim on its own merits we instead diagnose them as having a certain bias or prejudice that motivated them to make the claim. What we never consider is that maybe they know something we don't.
16. Semantic Apocalypse: In the digital age, we all live in subcultures. Society is no longer bound by a shared set of beliefs. All that unites us is our common biology: our fears & hungers. We've created a civilization organized around nothing but our shared animality.
17. Beginner's Bubble Effect: The most ignorant people are not those who know nothing about something, but those who know a little about it, because their little knowledge gives them the illusion of understanding, which makes them overconfident in their beliefs. h/t: @emollick
18. Selective Laziness: We're critical of other's arguments but not our own. Trouche et al (2016) found that showing people their own claims disguised as another's led them to reject the claims. To know what you really think about your beliefs, imagine they're someone else's.
19. Nominal Fallacy: We label things to avoid having to think about them. For example, calling a murderer "evil" to explain their behavior absolves us of the need to confront the complex web of circumstances that led them to murder.
20. Ad Hoc Rescue: We grow so attached to our beliefs that we begin to defend them like lawyers defending clients, using every trick we can to find loopholes that'll allow us to keep believing. As @PTetlock said: "Beliefs are hypotheses to be tested, not treasures to be guarded."
21. Taleb’s Surgeons: You're considering 2 people for a job, one pretty, one ugly. In achievements they're equal. Who do you hire? The pretty one? No! The ugly one. They accomplished just as much while having a bias against them. Always factor in other people's prejudices.
22. Alder’s Razor: If something can't be settled by experiment or observation, it's probably not worthy of debate. This is because, without empirical evidence, there is just "your word against mine," and everyone wants the last word. Following this rule will save so much time.
23. Escher Sentences: Linguistic constructions that appear to make sense, until you reread more closely. Example: “More people have been to Russia than I have.” A good reminder of how easily your brain accepts nonsense.
24. The Never-Ending Now: We're forever chasing what's new, ignoring anything older than 24 hrs, such as the accumulated wisdom of human history. We think the best info is the most recent, but often it's the oldest, because this has withstood the test of time. h/t: @david_perell
25. 3 Men Make a Tiger: People will believe anything if enough people say it. It's why some journos try to portray their own views as common. E.g. Instead of "I hate Elon Musk's hairstyle" they'd write "Musk Condemned for Hairstyle" and cherry-pick examples from social media.
26. Maslow's Hammer: People disproportionately rely on what they understand to explain what they don't, so beware of the intellectual who's just published a new book, as they'll try to apply the book's ideas to *everything*.
27. Naval's Razor: If you can't decide between 2 choices, take the path that's more difficult/painful in the short term. Doing this will counteract "hyperbolic discounting," the brain's tendency to overestimate short term pain and underestimate long term pain. h/t: @naval
28. Okrent's Law: We all know how biased journalists can be, but even those who attempt to be objective can spread misinformation, because the attempt to be even-handed often leads journalists to treat wrong opinions with more respect than they deserve.
29. Popper’s Falsifiability Principle: For a theory to be considered scientific, it must be possible to disprove or refute it. As such, for each of your beliefs you should have a clear idea of what would persuade you you're wrong, otherwise your belief is immune to reason.
30. Gurwinder's Theory of Bespoke Bullshit: Many don’t have an opinion until they’re asked for it, at which point they cobble together a viewpoint from whim & half-remembered hearsay, before deciding that this 2-minute-old makeshift opinion will be their new hill to die on.
31. Inattentional Blindness: It's interesting how the the human brain doesn't recognize the second "the" in this sentence. Your attention defines your reality as much as your vision.
32. Anattā: There's nothing constant about a person. Habits are picked up & dropped. Beliefs asserted & refuted. Dreams forged & shattered. Passions ignited & extinguished. The self is a work-in-progress being constantly rewritten. And yet we’re all judged as if we’re final.
33. Poe’s Law: It’s now impossible to distinguish trolling from sincerity online, partly because shitposts have become so lifelike, and partly because life has become so shitpostlike.
34. True-Believer Syndrome: We often continue to believe something after it's been debunked, because belief is shaped not just by what we think is true, but also by what we'd prefer was true. To overcome this, always subtract your desire to believe from the available evidence.
35. Munger's Iron Prescription: If you can't state the opposing view on an issue at least as well as the people supporting it, then you're not entitled to your own view. Following this rule will prevent a great deal of stupidity.
36. Nova Effect: You may think losing your job is bad, but what if staying at your job would've led to you dying in a fire? You can't truly know if an outcome is good or bad, because fortune can lead to misfortune and vice versa. So don't be quick to judge the cards you're dealt.
37. Apatheia: Often, fear is more crippling than that which is feared. Rage is more maddening than that which enrages. Hate is more toxic than that which is hated. Few foes crush us more than our emotions, so victory over our enemies requires victory over our feelings about them.
38. Attention Economy: The world is competing for your attention. Therefore, your attention has value like real currency, and should be treated as such. Ask yourself, what are you wasting attention on, and where would investing it yield the best return?
39. Digital Detox: You can't develop perspective while endlessly consuming info, so periodically disconnect from the glowing screens, dwell a while in darkness, and there you'll see what you were blind to, for it's only when night obscures the world that it reveals the galaxy.
40. Regret Minimization: Somewhere in the future, your older self is watching you through memories. Whether it's with regret or nostalgia depends on what you do now.
Thanks for reading. If you want to know more about concepts like these, I'll be exploring them on my blog (link in bio). And if you want to see more megathreads like this in future, let me know with likes & retweets. To return to top, click here:
Gurwinder @G_S_BhogalMy friends, a new MEGATHREAD has arrived! In 40 tweets I’ll explain 40 useful concepts you should know. Reading time: ~7 minutes. Value: a lifetime. Thread:

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