Book recommendation: Loonshots

post by nonzerosum · 2019-05-03T18:30:12.254Z · score: 24 (9 votes) · EA · GW · 2 comments

I think this book could be particularly interesting to people interested in encouraging more high quality EA projects.

It's all about how to nurture breakthroughs and new ideas. I found it to be very insightful.

From an Amazon reviewer: "Loonshots are “widely dismissed ideas whose champions are often written off as crazy.” Through dozens of engaging stories told with insight and wry humor, Bahcall describes how loonshots (such as radar, the internet, and Pixar movies) come about, how to nurture them, how to champion them, and how to keep from inadvertently killing them."

Recommended. It could be quite beneficial to apply the ideas from this book to effective altruism, in particular many of the ideas seem relevant to nurturing new ideas for top EA priorities like biosecurity, building effective altruism, global priorities research etc.




Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by aarongertler · 2019-05-03T21:24:53.022Z · score: 19 (10 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the recommendation! It's very rare to see book recommendations on the Forum, which is odd considering the goals and methods of EA (we should be reading a lot of books).

In the past, books I've read that collect "common lessons of successful projects" have usually run into the problem of picking out successful anecdotes after the fact, and ignoring cases where the book's chosen rules/phenomena applied equally well to various projects that failed. (In the case of this book, that might equate to ignoring cases where a crazy idea is rejected for a long time, then accepted, only for it to become clear that it should have stayed rejected.) Do you think the author avoids this issue?

comment by RomeoStevens · 2019-05-06T19:11:04.504Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Agree about books. I'd say the main ways that I differ in my approach came from reading a ton of books in specific areas which, besides just the straightforward skill-up, also made me less correlated with others' approaches thus increasing the potential for consilience.