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Forecasting Newsletter: December 2020

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MaxG's Shortform

I think looking for things that you want to memorize is the wrong approach: I think it's better for things you want to learn and be able to use long-term. 

The SRS part probably gives you the impression that most of your time is meant to be for memorizing things but the incremental reading component massively shifts most of the use of SuperMemo to being learning and then memorization/maintenance of knowledge when it's in a suitably refined form. 

For me personally, there have been lots of things that I've found useful to learn though it's hard to point at them too specifically since it's not easy to tell what I only remember because of SuperMemo. Likely some of the things that made the biggest difference for me were:

-learning about REBT (mainly the idea of musts. I'm sure other therapies would have been useful this is just one that I happened upon)

-Replacing Guilt by Nate Soares

-supermemo.guru from creator of SM. There are lots of useful writings from here making it hard to point to specific one of most utility but probably my favorite is his one on the Pleasure of Learning

-discovery of Bloom's 2 Sigma Problem from entirely random article I likely otherwise would have not ended up getting around to without SM

There are lots of other things I have in SM that I think aren't directly applicable now but are likely to server as the foundation for bigger ideas (the more things you have in your head the more connections you can make thus increasing creativity). I don't think it's a good idea to assume that more knowledge is an implicit good (since actual effort needs to be made for things to be applicable in real life with formuationl) but I do think long-term knowledge can have a multiplicative effect and it only takes one good idea sparked by two things in memory to be worth the rest of the time you spend on the system,


Beyond that, I think it's just insanely valuable having a system where I can chuck in whatever I find interesting and then not have to spend brainpower thinking about how to manage having 100 tabs. It completely fixes that.


(I am writing this at midnight so sorry if it is not entirely coherent)

MaxG's Shortform

If anyone is interested, I'm highly willing to teach any EAs that want to learn how to use it, feel free to dm me (I'm the one that taught Max). Alone I think it takes probably at least a week or two to get the hang of it whereas with maybe ~2 hours of teaching you can get started immediately afterwords. 

EAGxVirtual Unconference (Saturday, June 20th 2020)

I'd be interested if you have any written posts you recommend (not so big on watching videos generally)

EAGxVirtual Unconference (Saturday, June 20th 2020)

I've never heard about GCI before but it seems super cool, could you link to any resources on it?

EAGxVirtual Unconference (Saturday, June 20th 2020)

I don't know how you'd do it but I think the notes could be really valuable if you could add a means for upvoting or allowing people to show which notes they found the most valuable.

EAGxVirtual Unconference (Saturday, June 20th 2020)

*Incremental Reading as a Tool for Improved Learning and Research*

What is incremental reading?

(Note, I’m talking about incremental reading as it is implemented in SuperMemo, not as in Anki’s plugin, polar, or dendro)

Summary: allows for acquiring vast amounts of information efficiently

Many people are already familiar with spaced repetition, which is a good way for memorizing things for long-term recall.

The problem with just using spaced repetition is that it makes memorizing things easy but it doesn't give you a good system for learning things before memorizing them. If you want to go through say, a hundred articles from the original sequences it would be extremely tedious to memorize the important parts in Anki, for example.

Incremental reading fixes this issue by making it easy to:

1. collect all the information you want to learn in one place (electronic material at least)

2. prioritize what you have collected (when you have limited time, prioritizing is helpful for spending time on most important material)

3. Process and break down what you've prioritized (focusing on the parts of material that actually matter)

4. retain what you've processed (with spaced repetition, but a much better algorithm than anki)

How does this apply to EA?

Summary: improves creative/problem solving abilities significantly

If you want to be an expert, regardless of field, knowledge plays a large role. The problem with acquiring knowledge sufficient to be an expert is that at some point you may end up forgetting at the same rate you’re learning new things. Traditionally, the way most experts overcome this is by slowly amassing experience over years.

Incremental reading allows for linear knowledge acquisition which enables you to become an expert much more quickly than through traditional learning. For anyone in EA doing academic research, incremental reading could substantially improve their abilities.

Conservatively, I would expect an improvement of 20% in knowledge acquisition rate and problem solving ability in a proficient user over 10 years. Though multiples higher than that wouldn’t surprise me.

Much of that comes from incremental reading enabling users to generalize more effectively. If you work as a psychologist, while you might remember some of the things you read about other subjects, you would end up knowing the most about the things you apply a lot and forget the things you don't. Incremental reading makes it practical to remember things from other subjects even if you won't use them daily. The associative power of knowledge means that by having familiarity with other subjects your ability to solve problems improves. There are few problems whose solutions lie in a single realm alone.

What would I present on?

What incremental reading entails and what benefits you end up with from using it, to allow people to decide if it could be worth learning for them.

If I have time, I could go into a brief primer on what makes learning pleasurable which ties into what makes (at least for me) incremental reading the best learning method there is.