When asked to create something, most people treat the research process the same way.
Basically, once they receive a prompt, they'll allocate a chunk of time and spend a few hours scouring the internet for information.
For example, if you wanted to write an essay on the effect of alcohol on sleep, you might spend some time searching the internet for articles concerning this topic. Then, you would consolidate all of that information into a uniform essay.
I like to relate this style of information gathering to "a hunting party." Whenever you need some knowledge, you'll immediately go hunt for it at that time.
However, this style of learning is increasingly becoming less effective for several reasons.
Recently I read "The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius" by Paul Graham. This article centers around the idea that most people who do great work started out by obsessing over a field that 1) most people view as useless and 2) they genuinely enjoy. He uses the example of Bus Ticket collectors, who know everything about individual tickets, their design, and the history of bussing. Anyone who is trying to find out what field they would be best at should read this article.
This week I started reading "The Elephant in the Brain" by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson. This book discusses the idea that it's easier to deceive others if you deceive yourself. It presents a large amount evolutionary evidence for its claim that most of our core motivations are selfish, but we simply don't realize it. It's a fascinating read, and is slowly turning into one of my favorite books.
A few days ago I listened to Tim Ferriss's interview with Dan Harris. Harris is a former ABC News anchor who had a panic attack on national television. This provoked a lifelong search for meaning, where he explored several interesting pathways. I would recommend this episode to anyone interested in mediation, mindfulness, and the role of religion in the 21st century.
"If I had to put the recipe for genius into one sentence, that might be it: to have a disinterested obsession with something that matters." - Paul Graham
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