Idea origins

A list of ideas I use, things I believe, and working hypotheses — and where I stole them from.

May 2021

April 2021

Covid lockdowns might have been a dumb idea.


The story of Adam and Eve's fall from Eden is the story of origin of consciousness.

  • Not sure I believe it, but the idea is interesting.
  • See this Twitter thread by @gooddogthedog.
  • Choice quote: "Christianity, from the very beginning, takes a very firm and unpopular stand wrt consciousness: it is a great evil brought upon mankind by the devil, the ultimate enemy".
  • Then it gets even more interesting: "Consciousness is like herpes—it’s evil, but now you got that shit for life. You cannot turn tail, reverse course, or 'retvrn to tradition.' A new embrace of instinct cannot save you from the existential dream of consciousness—only a hell of a lot more consciousness can, now."


It is possible that in a few decades years, the default mode of operation for a company will be 'a native citizen of social activism'. (Right now, some companies are, but most probably aren't.)


Your attachment style is a) influenced very heavily by how your parents treated you when you were a child, and b) has a huge impact on how you interact with the world.

  • This occurred to me after I did two sessions of Ideal Parent Figure Protocol meditations, conducted by Cedric Reeves (similar to the one here).
  • If you have one of the insecure attachment styles, you will interact with the world in weird ways. For instance, I assume that by default, nobody will like me unless I am being actively useful or funny. This shapes literally everything I do.
  • The solution is to work on changing your attachment style.
  • IFP (kinda "imagine ideal parents and how they would react to you") is one possible approach.


March 2021

Doing things by imitation is so much easier. Like, ridiculously more easy.

  • Was thinking about "why do other people have an easy time finding drugs and I don't?". Realized it's because if you know someone who knows how to get drugs in city X, it's very easy for you to do the same. If you don't — it's much harder.
  • Same about anything else.
  • This is also related to "Leading by example is often the only way to change others" (somewhere below). People start tidying up their rooms when they see that you can tidy up yours. People start businesses when they see that their peers have been able to start a business. My mom started considering a tattoo (completely out of the blue!) immediately after my sister got one.


If you have a useful insight/tip, repeating it many many many times might feel cringy (and be cringy to other people around you) — but it works.

  • I can't find the tweet, but Patrick McKenzie (@patio11), of "Charge more" fame, once said something like "I chose one catchy thing to repeat, talked about it endlessly, and five years later it started bringing results". Or something. Might be terribly misquoting here.
  • I am applying this principle to things like "a 5% improvement" — hammering down the idea that hunting for 5% improvements is very important if you want to improve your life, and if you have found something that is a 5% improvement then it's worth doing.


Women probably have it pretty bad.

  • I've always disliked feminism, but I kept seeing stories about women's experiences here and there.
  • This article was the straw that started shifting things for me: I was a Teenage Sexist.


February 2021

The brain's job is to adapt to whatever body and environment it has been dealt.

  • I don't remember where I got this one from.
  • It includes things like "pretty girls might very well actually have different personalities from smart girls — because the brain adapts to whatever it's been dealt, so it optimizes for using the good looks and this results in a different personality".


Interacting with the world can be inherently fun (unless you repress that feeling).

  • Formulated after seeing the thread by @lisatomic5 about her kids spoiling everything.
  • See my own thread quoting her thread.


CEOs don't steer, CEOs make sure that plans are executed. Furthermore, plans to fix concrete things are created by people lower than the CEO, and the CEO merely approves the best plan.


I genuinely like the society and want to cooperate with it, and I don't want to submit to it and be the society's bitch. Cooperation, not submission. This is the right attitude to have towards the society.

  • Both "fuck the society" and "serving the society is the highest goal" involve repressing parts of yourself.
  • Came up with it by myself! The general notion of Synthesis helps.
  • See this Twitter thread.


Areas of responsibility = order. No areas of responsibility = chaos.

  • This tweet by @egocv: "neighbor company has mugs with their names on them. Our company has generic mugs. Their cups are clean. Our cups are stained".


Kegan stages go from "individualistic" to "communal" to "individualistic" again.

  • I came up with it myself and then saw it mentioned in a tweet somewhere else.
  • This might help with musing on "what could a Kegan stage 6 look like?".
  • Other perspectives that might help with Kegan 6 are: LH (2,4) vs RH (3,5), designing rules vs trusting intuition, and aesthetics.


The best way to not forget your own ideas is not to keep them all in a database of some kind, but a) to write posts about them and b) to keep talking about them. Feels less "certain", but actually works better.

  • Mostly inspired by my own experience.
  • Vaguely inspired by Linus Torvalds's quote "Only wimps use tape backup. REAL men just upload their important stuff on ftp and let the rest of the world mirror it."
  • Works especially well if you succeed in creating a social environment around yourself where your ideas are "mainstream".


January 2021

A bunch of insights might end up being completely useless (or unused) even if it seems like they are great, and the best way to counter this is to apply the insights towards some goal — e.g. work, or a project of any kind, etc.


A good way to prepare for catastrophes — perhaps the only way — is to have prior experience with similar catastrophes.


Masculinity is connected to imposing your will on the world, and femininity is connected to skillfully co-existing with the world and working within its constraints.

  • The basic idea of "masculinity vs femininity = order vs chaos" comes from Peterson.
  • The rest I made up by myself. See my Twitter thread.


Masturbation can be generalized to "activity where the dialogue with reality has been replaced by a dialogue with oneself". Also, masturbation (when defined this way) is bad.

  • Examples include:
    • Well, actual masturbation. Reality (the other person) has been replaced by your own imagination. Your imagination does not push back, does not have desires of its own, isn't a problem you have to invent a way to deal with.
    • Any intellectual discipline that does not brush either against reality or against other people is also masturbation. This includes (some instances of?) philosophy.
    • Self-published books. Self-funded projects with no users. Tweeting into a void.
  • I don't remember where I originally got this idea from, though I think David Chapman's post Going down on the phenomenon is partially guilty.
  • Freud talks about something a bit similar (reality principle vs pleasure principle) in Formulations on the Two Principles of Psychic Functioning — I have a quote here on Twitter.


Borderline (BPD) is a mirror of narcissism. If narcissism is "I don't know who I am but I want people to believe I'm X", borderline is "I don't know who I am but I will be what people think I am / what people want me to be".

  • No idea if it's true, just a working hypothesis.
  • Got it from The Last Psychiatrist's post Borderline.


The popular idea that goes "in conversations, men offer solutions but women want support" is misleading. Women use conversations to formulate the problem. Also, men use "giving solutions" to run away from the conversations.

  • I got it from Peterson's 12 Rules for Life.
  • I don't know if it's true.
  • But pretending it's true makes it much easier for me to think that my replies in conversations are bringing other people value.


The skillset needed to get access to a lot of power/resources is not drastically different from the skillset needed to manage a modest amount of resources.

  • Putin's rise to power.
  • Also, [20-year-olds running multimillion startups].


Being fast at things (e.g. replying to emails, etc) brings not linear but superlinear improvements.

  • I don't remember where I first stumbled upon this, but Ben Kuhn's Be impatient is a good list of quotes on this topic.
  • This thread on play by @fiddlemath is good. Fast feedback enables play, and slow feedback kills play — and play is very important. See this tweet in particular: "Instantaneous is vastly better than in seconds. In seconds is vastly better than minutes. In minutes is probably too slow to support play".


To get rid of thoughts you don't want to have — anything from "I suck" to "[a gender/race] is worse than [another gender/race]" to "humanity must be eliminated" — it is important to first admit their validity and truth.


You have a moral obligation to stand up for yourself.

  • I don't follow it yet, but I believe it.
  • I got it verbatim from Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life.


December 2020

Jira (the issue tracker thingy) is good.

  • I used to think that a) Jira was slow and unusable, and b) that all software development methodologies were just buzzwords.
  • A coworker introduced Jira and a sprint-based process, and it turned out to be so good that I adopted it for managing my own life as well. I think Complice does something similar to Jira specifically for personal use, but it didn't work as well for me.


Some things become much much harder when using software vs when using physical tools, because the feedback loop for software is much slower.

  • Exhibit A: the piano.
  • Exhibit B: using a physical synth (e.g. an OP-Z) vs using a DAW without a MIDI keyboard and putting notes onto a grid.


It's hard to guess the rationale behind old decisions. You really have to study history.


Most emotions are not unrelatable. No matter how much you like life, you are still able to feel the desire to die; no matter how much you are tired of life, you are still able to feel the hatred of death.


Apprenticeship is a great way to learn something, and schools are a horrible way to learn something.


If you do [something] and it helps, sometimes a good strategy is to do more and more and more of it; being afraid to do even more of [the thing] is a common failure mode, even though not always a mistake.

  • Zvi's More Dakka is the ultimate post on this.
  • "The recommended dose of vitamin D is 400 IU/day, but you can get good effects from taking 15000 IU/day or even 600000 IU in one go" — this isn't from the post above, just a thing I figured out by googling, but it further convinced me that things can be super off.


The human civilization is inadequate — it can't do some things that are absolutely within its capacity and that could be done easily.


November 2020

In real life, science is not sufficient to arrive at useful truths; desperately wanting science to be sufficient, and putting all effort into making science better and more rigorous — while ignoring other tools we have for arriving at useful truths — is misguided.


Leading by example is often the only way to change others.

  • Where I got it from: an anecdote in the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo — about how somebody tried to get their sibling to be less messy, gave up, cleaned up the mess in their own room, and a couple weeks later the sibling followed suit for no visible reason.
  • Nowadays I think that people learn by imitation, and all other ways of learning are incredibly ineffective in comparison.


Space is important for humans and they have an intuitive feel for it that affects many things. (As in: how much space there is between you and somebody else, how much open area you see in front of you, etc.)


Lifting (as in, going to the gym, weightlifting, etc) is good for self-esteem.


Psychopaths exist; don't have empathy; can not be reasoned with; can bullshit, fake remorse, etc, very easily; there is nothing you can do other than run away from them.

  • The book The Mask of Sanity by Hervey M. Cleckley, with detailed profiles of 15 different psychopaths, has fully convinced me.


"Treat interactions with people as a slot machine; ignore failures."


An anonymous Twitter account is a great idea; generally the ability to be anonymous and explore multiple selves is important; you arrive at who you are by playing with who you could be.


You have to rely on uncertain things sometimes, like "they can sue me but they won't" or "this guy can kill me easily but he won't".


Any changes in society can have unforeseen consequences; having norms around big things like 'marriage' is more important than I thought; striving for 100% freedom for everyone isn't a good idea.


Social classes ("middle class" etc) are cultures; colleges are social class training grounds; race and gender might also be cultures; social class influences a ton of things and is very hard to change.