↑ comment by Moses ·
2019-06-23T12:31:02.706Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Hmm, it's not so much the classic rationalist trait of overthinking that I'm concerned about. It's more like…
First, when you do X, the brain has a pesky tendency to learn exactly X. If you set out to practice thinking, the brain improves at the activity of "practicing thinking". If you set out to achieve something that will require serious thinking, you improve at serious thinking in the process. Trying to try [LW · GW] and all that. So yes, practicing thinking, but you can't let your brain know that that's what you're trying to achieve.
Second, "thinking for real" sure is work, but the next question is, is this work worth doing? When you start with some tangible end goal and make plans by working your way backwards to where you are now, that informs you what thinking works needs to be done, decreasing the chance that you'll waste time on producing research which looks nice and impressive and all that, but in the end doesn't help anyone improve the world.
I guess if you come up with technology [LW · GW] that allows people to plug into the world-saving-machine at the level of "doing research-assistant-kind-of-work for other people who know what they're doing" and gradually work their way up to "being one of the people who know what they're doing", that would make this work.
You wouldn't be "practicing thinking"; you could easily convince your brain that you're actually trying to achieve something in the real world, because you could clearly follow some chain of sub-sub-agendas to sub-agendas to agendas and see that what you're working on is for real.
And, by the same token, you'd be working on something that (someone believes) needs to be done. And maybe sometimes you'd realize that, no, actually, this whole line of reasoning can be cut out or de-prioritized, here's why, etc.—and that's how you'd gradually grow to be one of the people who know what they're doing.
So, yeah, proceed on that, I guess.