If I could talk to my 20 year old self I would recommend this: Stay away from the Internet as much as possible and don't look for general advice.
Most information is of little use no matter whether it's right, wrong, deep, entertaining, scientific, religious, whatever... Many may realize that but they continue to consume. The common trap is that most of us think there is no downside to consuming information and this, in my humble opinion is a huge mistake! It seems to me that the more stuff we shovel into our heads, the less able we are to get active.
There is constantly such a long queue of inputs our brain wants to process that we have little energy left to actually develop intentions. When intention crystallize, motivation follows and so does action. I'd argue that people of average intelligence are not lacking success because they miss precious advice. It's because they don't actually have intentions! They can't allow themselves (mainly for financial oder societal reason, I assume) to relax and wait for curiosity to kick in. Instead they have it backwards: They hear about people who are having a career, they hear about others forming families, they hear the news telling them how the IOT is the future, they read up on cool stuff on wikipedia, read the biographies of celebreties, random stuff on reddit, they read career advice .... And then, from all that garbage, they try to deduce what to do. In most cases, that doesn't truly work because the result is not in line with their natural appetites and abilities.
My 20-year-old self got 90%+ of the information I needed to succeed from the internet. I taught myself coding, 3D graphics, game development, rendering, and a whole bunch of other stuff.
My present-day self still relies on the internet for a huge percentage of my information, and you know what? Having done it both ways, it's far more efficient and far more effective than catching a bus to the library.
Maybe you meant 'stay off Facebook'?
Every morning I used to start my day with reading HN, on the bus to school I surfed the web. At uni, on every break I used to take out my phone and browse some more. After school I binge-watched TV shows and surfed more. My attention span got so divided that I couldn't concentrate watching a single episode, I constantly switched to a browser to surf more.
I learned a lot about programming, but my personal life suffered.
I couldn't meet deadlines, couldn't study for uni (studying law).
In the end I concluded that I had developed something like an internet addiction.
Furthermore, it wasn't just limited to internet. I stopped changing clothes, stopped keeping my already cluttered room in a somewhat liveable standard, stopped caring for my health, ate a lot of junk food, got hooked to TV-Shows.
Now, instead of constant short bursts of divided internet surfing, I am trying to set out a time for surfing. And outside those hours, I go offline.
It has been a though switch, but I slowly feel that I'm getting my impulse control back.
I recently started reading Deep Work by Cal Newport, I can recommend it to anyone trying to get off the vicious cycle.
I've also started to disconnect. I also find my productivity far higher without the Internet. Sometimes just a notebook and a pen are more than sufficient, and I can get some serious work done, manipulating equations, drawing diagrams, documenting ideas, even coding!
Although here I find myself, on Hacker News....
EDIT: This might be what I find troubling about Elon Musk's Neuralink project... I already find it very useful to disconnect from my "digital neocortex" (i.e. social media, Google, Youtube, Wikipedia, etc) to get work done... With a higher bandwidth connection that goes even directly to my limbic system and produces a more compelling experience than reality itself can... Would I just be stuck in a high tech opium den with no will to leave?
Likewise, it's only when you're hungry that your body is telling you what you need (e.g. you crave for some vitamins, something salty or meat ...) . If you're munching all day (no matter whether it's good food or junk food) then you don't get hungry and you don't really know what your body needs and chances are you have eaten more than what's healthy.
While I generally agree that you shouldn't overvalue general advice I don't find your argument very believable when you then go on to offer your own advice. Seems more like a convenient way to not having to address the article.
I'm all for going your own way, but it can't be just a reaction to something else. Especially in a relatively free industry like technology I increasingly see people who find themselves disliking the consequences of their decisions (often without realizing they made them in the first place).
> Seems more like a convenient way to not having to address the article.
There is no need to address the article as there is nothing wrong with it. It's a fine article! In fact, for my sake we may even call it perfect!
> I increasingly see people who find themselves disliking the consequences of their decisions (often without realizing they made them in the first place).
And here we actually agree! People don't realize which decisions they have made (and thus also don't realize what they've gotten themselves into)! My attempted explanation for why that is is that they absorb too much information and use that soup of ideas (which almost seems like white noise to me) as a reference for their decisions instead of waiting for an impulse from within (which in my experience occurs if you allow yourself enough time - just like you get sleepy at night or hungry in the morning - insofar I believe what I've described is more of a rule than advice).
Whether or not they do their own thing or want to follow a school-like path - that again doesn't matter I think but they have to "own" their decisions.
... which is also a piece of general advice, coming from the Internet.
This article is similar to just that: useless clichés. I clicked to read more about the evidence backing up each item, but it's only in the footnotes? In other words, the footnotes are MUCH more interesting than the article.
Nevertheless, my subjective feeling is still that potentially strong arguments are being watered down by weaker arguments. I believe I would have responded better had these been split into separate articles.
Also, it's good to understand the limitations of the scientific process.
That is, you can formulate some hypothesis, and the job of evidence is to move probability mass around. I.e. when you have hypotheses A, B and C, each piece of evidence towards A makes you more sure of A, and less sure of B and C.
Weak evidence towards A makes you weakly more sure of A, and weakly less sure of B and C. But it's still better than choosing based on a coin flip.
However, you don't need to have strong evidence behind a technique for it to be worth trying – if the upside is high enough or the costs are low enough, it could still be worth it.
Well yeah but there's literally 1000's of books like that on Amazon - if yours isn't different, then why bother?
Uh, footnote citations for any advice are exactly what I expect when something says it's evidence-based.
Wow, they probably have no idea where their bananas come from. More productive than the average person if you look at scientific output only, but science is what improves our lives in the long run. The rest of the population does the work that needs doing to stay alive.
This will probably be counted in their "Amsterdam-Brussels-Antwerp" statistic, but no real-life innovation has taken place there.
The other side to this story is that non-Europeans would probably still consider this place part of the "Amsterdam-Brussels-Antwerp" axis since it is only 100km outside of it, while for Dutch people this is 'the other side of the country' and thus, considered far away.
They certainly do. You should apply the principle of charity here. It's a site about effective altruism. They definitely know where bananas come from.
More importantly, bananas (and other food production) are captured in economic output and measures of economic productivity. They're referencing quantitative comparisons of productivity.
> The rest of the population does the work that needs doing to stay alive.
A very very small percentage of the population works in food production.
The whole purpose of this website is effective altruism. I'm sure they're aware that people are struggling out there.
It is true though; the number of comments I see on HN directly responding to just the title of an article - even when their response has been rebutted by the article itself - is very high.
Most of such advice works quite well for people who don't need it. Especially for the people with low income, low social capital, poor health and low personal skills, much of the advice will be outright wrong. And for some accomplished ones, it will serve as an extra prod to shame the former:
"Well of course they are not successful, they don't follow what scientists say."
The question is: why don't they.
A few constructive negative comments are fine, but this...
I wish there was a community similar to HN but without the toxic negativity. :(
A side point form this, it would be interesting if HN/Reddit or other platforms brought in a quality score to peoples upvotes to negate people who do tend to upvote catchy headlines.
That or 287 people other than me found this article interesting and useful...
If you loved this article and upvoted it, please tell us why.
I see a bunch of posts and comments on HN where the poster postulates (without any research or backing) some hypothesis about how to improve your life. These inevitably get hundreds of upvotes and never get questioned, even though n=1 is practically meaningless.
This is the complete opposite. Every step on here is discrete, concrete and backed by study. What more do you want, exactly? And how come no one ever calls out the n=1 case, but everyone is calling out this? What exactly is the difference?
The difference is in making a claim and recounting a personal experience. The two have entirely different bars for acceptance.
It's really hard to do a voting ring on HN. The algorithm is very sensitive. We've triggered it accidentally before, just because friends of ours, who we didn't ask, upvoted it.
I would posit the opposite - people who read it upvoted it. People who read the title (and possibly a couple of headings) in this quite long article left negative comments. I enjoyed the article because there were a few bits in it that reminded me of common sense things that I've been neglecting. It also linked to several other resources (essays/books) that seem interesting and I plan on reading.
Slashdot pioneered this AFAIK and it helped.
Perhaps HN could track clickthroughs and allow upvoting after a specified time - e.g. 3 minutes - has passed (after clicking), to prevent upvotes when the user hasn't really read the article. Downside: if you know the article already from elsewhere, you'll be prevented from voting too.
I agree but not based on this article getting to the top but based on the 90% negative/sarcastic/useless comments in this thread. I'm not directing this at you specifically but there are some atrocious comments. Clearly (as you say), based on the upvotes, a lot of people found the post useful.
That's how voting systems generally function, yes
Also... given the current state of psychology research even the points where you refer to research are probably quite weak. E.g. the whole field of positive psychology is... not exactly a prime example of robust evidence-based practice.
We're trying to give an all-considered view of what makes sense to try, taking into account (i) strength of evidence (ii) upside (iii) cost of trying (iv) whether it makes sense to us, and so on.
Note that most of the self-help books we recommend are written by academic experts in that area. We think it's usually more reasonable to go with their overall judgment calls rather than delving into individual studies ourselves, which are usually flawed (replication crisis etc.)
The criticisms you are receiving about the article not being "evidence-based" is probably the most true in the sense that it may lead people to expect more scientific links and notes (which you do provide a decent amount in the Notes & References). So perhaps the title could have been better worded.
However, I think you were going for something more practical that people can apply to their lives and you linked to additional resources (books and web sites) for people to dive deeper if they want. That's a good approach IMO.
I too am someone who does work that helps us improve in the long run, I don't put the literal bread on anyone's table. (I hope that saying translates from Dutch.) So I don't identify as someone doing the hard work while scientists do "the important work", but I do think everyone's work is important. In terms of wages, I have trouble with the idea of farmers that earn less than me while working more hours and taking more risks in terms of job security and physical safety, but there's little I can do at the moment.
To make sure you get what I'm referring to, this is what I'm talking about:
> The world’s ten largest urban economic regions hold only 6.5% of the world’s population, but account for 57% of patented innovations, 53% of the most cited scientists and 43% of economic output. That means the people in these regions are about eight times more productive than the average person.
More productive on some narrow measure. What a snobby statement.
> Productivity describes various measures of the efficiency of production.
I don't see how that is specific to patents and citations per capita.
Knowing good habits to develop is much less than half the battle. I already have a pretty good idea what I should be doing, all the difficulty is in effective implementation. Progress is often two steps forward and one step back and dedicating time and other limited resources (money, willpower) to one area (e.g. health and fitness) can often conflict with progress in another area (e.g. time to work or socialize).
Knowing good habits is a good place to start but I'm much more interested in actionable advice to effectively develop and sustain good habits.
All of these have their merits but implementing them consistently is the whole problem, merely being aware of their existence is not sufficient.
One of former staff members got out of this rut by using commitment techniques.
(And click through to the next post)
You might also find The Motivation Hacker by Nick Winter a good, quick summary.
Motivation is a complex beast though, the evidence seems to be mixed on the degree to which it is a limited resource / can be increased through training but it certainly seems to be finite. I don't think the difficult of applying so many of these techniques consistently in practice comes down purely to motivation but it is no doubt a factor.
When it comes down to it, a lot of this stuff is just straight up hard. Certainly there are little 'hacks' that I've picked up over the years that help in various areas but overall it is just hard, slow work, results are very difficult to measure in any way scientifically and there are always limits in time and other resources.
Not to pick on GTD but just to use it as an example, it is not in fact very cheap or easy to try it out and see how you get on. It is difficult and time consuming to start the way it is recommended in the book, it is difficult and time consuming to stick with consistently and it is difficult to objectively measure its actual effectiveness. I'm not aware of any strong scientific evidence that people who are able to apply it consistently are actually more productive even.
Talking about techniques is fine, but nothing is "one size fits all". So all one really needs is the goal, ability to self improve and reflect, and then start on the journey. There is no "simple effective implementation".
If I had to choose though I'd go for being good at the job you don't believe in. At least that way you have a better chance to build career capital and go into something better later.
So I have no trouble with your advice, except that it seems to reinforce some already wrong priorities. Many if not most people work too much anyway, not by their own choice, but because they are underpaid and the capital tends to move to places where it already has been accumulated (and wealth is mostly inherited). Giving those people tips to become more productive and increase their chances of 'professional success' is a bit pervert.
There is a lot of evidence of the benefits of running and other activities too.
* Changing field to apply skills in a different way.
* Going back to school later in your career.
* Moving from roles that have a stigma attached (a relatively pervasive one for tech is moving from "support" into a development or a product development role.)
* Being successful and hitting a heck of a lot of the points on learning, saving money etc., but ultimately not being satisfied.
First, the items do not tend to be mutually exclusive - there's a lot of overlap with each other. I interpret that as a sign of poor organization. It makes the whole thing hard to follow.
Second, most of this stuff isn't remotely evidence based! Plus, there's no way to understand the effect size even when some technique does have evidence supporting it.
Overall, this is too much of a data dump to be helpful. The author should have ranked ordered these items based on the cumulative evidence supporting each one - that would have been extremely useful.
> In many cases, the evidence isn’t as strong as we’d like. Rather, it’s the best we’re aware of. We’ve tried to come to an all-considered view of what makes sense to try, given (i) the strength of the empirical evidence, (ii) whether it seems reasonable to us, (iii) the size of the potential upside, (iv) how widely applicable the advice is, and (v) the costs of trying. The details are given in the further reading we link to and the footnotes.
> We’ve put the advice roughly in order. The first items are easier and more widely applicable, so start with them, then move on to the more difficult areas later. The order is also partly based on an upcoming analysis of which skills are most valuable.
I agree some of the advice overlaps, but it's a little hard to avoid. Most of the areas are inter-related. I'd be interested in ideas on how to reorg.
There are many benefits to working from home, as well as working in an office environment, but my point is that commutes will still exist for many software engineers for a long time.
Capital is controled by a small number of relatively old people. They give that money to companies as an investment, and tell CEOs "make sure you have managers keeping eyes on your employees in the office- no remote work."
So we are at the mercy of the interpretation of optimal business practices from "investorsl and board members"
Naturally comes the question: Where does the guide
guide you to? To what person does it guide you?
What world is this, in which every human interaction happens in background of some kind of utility function?
In the end we all want to be happy, right? Numerous studies find, that 'the most salient characteristics shared by students who were very happy and showed the fewest signs of depression were "their strong ties to friends and family and commitment to spending time with them." ("The New Science of Happiness," Claudia Wallis, Time Magazine, Jan. 09, 2005).' 
I'm very sorry to say this: sadly enough, it's not how good you perform, but where you are born, what has the biggest impact on your career. 
From the About page of 80000hours:
Our aim is to help as many people as possible lead
We do this by providing career advice for talented
young people who want to have a social impact.
Over a third of young graduates want to make a
difference with their careers,1 but they have
little idea what to do
And that's why I'm proud of HN. Because we are!
: In Germany 85% of all chairmen are emerging from the upper 3.5% (income-wise) families . This is especially remarkable as it's only a very thin slice, which makes up basically everybody in these positions. These upper 3.5% want you to become as high-performing as possible. Guess, why?
Nobody tells anyone to live their lives by an explicit utility function (if you could even specify one in full, you'd be half-way to solving Friendly AI). But utilitarianism is an useful framework for decisionmaking in many contexts, especially as an alternative to going by your gut, and especially in situations to which your gut is not used.
> In the end we all want to be happy, right?
Right, but if this is most important goal of one's life, then 80000hours is not a guide for them. This is a guide for people who want to have positive impact on the world. There are better and easier ways for improving personal happiness. For example, even the Bible suggests alcohol as useful in achieving a happy (if not impactful) life.
> Maybe that's the main problem here? "[Having] little idea what to do". Being raised as sheep doesn't really teach you, how to stand for your own ideals.
The context implies this talks about people who know they want to make a meaningful social impact, but don't know how. In other articles, 80000hours provides advice for figuring out that "how".
TL;DR: 80000hours don't publish articles aimed at everyone, but at those who want to make a positive impact on the world with their career.
Maybe they should read Heinrich Böll's Anekdote zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral - Anecdote Concerning the Lowering of Productivity.
Pasting it here from wikipedia :
The story is set in an unnamed harbor on the west coast of
Europe. A smartly-dressed enterprising tourist is taking
photographs when he notices a shabbily dressed local fisherman
taking a nap in his fishing boat. The tourist is disappointed with
the fisherman's apparently lazy attitude towards his work, so he
approaches the fisherman and asks him why he is lying around instead
of catching fish. The fisherman explains that he went fishing in the
morning, and the small catch would be sufficient for the next two
The tourist tells him that if he goes out to catch fish multiple
times a day, he would be able to buy a motor in less than a year, a
second boat in less than two years, and so on. The tourist further
explains that one day, the fisherman could even build a small cold
storage plant, later a pickling factory, fly around in a helicopter,
build a fish restaurant, and export lobster directly to Paris
without a middleman.
The nonchalant fisherman asks, "Then what?"
The tourist enthusiastically continues, "Then, without a care in the
world, you could sit here in the harbor, doze in the sun, and look
at the glorious sea."
"But I'm already doing that", says the fisherman.
The enlightened tourist walks away pensively, with no trace of pity
for the fisherman, only a little envy.
The fisherman from the story may be living a happy life, but he's not exactly helping anyone either. Which is fine as a life choice, but this guide is aimed at people who make a different choice.
The fisherman [is] not exactly helping anyone either.
And now, let's get back to work. I'm procrastinating on HN already long enough. :-)
Thanks for your comments!
In most professions, being moderately successful is more than enough, and if a company wants you to constantly surpass expectation and grow, there is maybe more wrong with that company than with yourself.
That was all my point, nothing big, in a sense it's a truism.
This is because where you live determines many important aspects of your life. It determines the types of people you’ll spend time with. It determines your day-to-day environment and commute."
So much this. I moved to a town with much higher quality people and my happiness has taken a big positive bump.
If you don't care, look for a union or government job where seniority reigns king and do the minimum every day for 45 years.
I think it's pretty cynical and condescending to assume that people are just mindlessly wandering about their careers. People usually have some reason, even if it's one you don't think is a good reason.
Regardless, my point is that the "why" is personal and is not something you can address for a general audience in an online article. It's not something someone else can or should tell you.
What I think people here sometimes don't recognize is that there are costs and tradeoffs to location choices. Those tradeoffs aren't constant for people over time. And there isn't a single right answer however much one needs to justify their own decision.
7. Abandon your current social network and move to a city where you can make better friends.
Both of those things may help generate career success individually, but probably not both of them together, in that order.
And there's not much conflicting about these two pieces of advices (whether they're good or bad).
To build the right social network for your career you might have to abandon your current social network and go to a city where you'll meet more like minded people, VCs, etc. This is about going where the action is, and meeting and expanding your network of players there. Not about whether you'll keep contact with your high school pals.
For more, there may be some cliques; join them and appear to be loyal to them.
A lot of the advice in the OP will scare your supervisor and cause him to try to get rid of you.
Net, play politics.
For one step more, the politics you are playing is well known in the literature of public administration, organizational behavior, and sociology and is called goal subordination where the workers subordinate the goals of the organization to their own goals.
Goal subordination is common in middle management in an organization big enough to have several levels of management. There commonly a middle manager wants to arrange that his position is relatively well paid and stable. To this end he wants to build an empire of subordinates who will not challenge him. The middle manager gets paid more because of his relatively large number of subordinates.
In a lot of medium to large organizations, an employee who is a star gets attacked. E.g., an employee A who sells more makes the other employees look bad, and they can retaliate by sabotaging employee A.
E.g., in a research university, never tell the others how your research is going. Instead, say nothing until the corresponding papers are PUBLISHED -- then it is too late for the others to sabotage the research, e.g., cause you to waste time by constantly dropping by your office to talk, putting you on silly committees, assigning you new courses to teach where you have to do new preparations, etc.
Net, instead of working to make the organization more successful, it is super common to replace reality with easier to do/defend processes and to fight with others in the company, especially just down the hall.
You're not able to control if your direct supervisor secretly wants to limit your career advancement by doing anything except quitting.
If you're in a sales environment with public figures, if you're a star, you can't hide that you are; it will be common knowledge and in your example, this will mean sabotage.
While you can control for working hard, arriving early, and knowing more, you can't really control things like your manager's goal subordination: no amount of clique loyalty would get you past that.
In short, how does one play politics, if every example of playing politics secretly is just "Quit your job?"
Want to advance based on the commercial value of your own work? Sure: Be a founder of a startup.
>"...[Y]our direct supervisor does not want you to do more or better because that might get you promoted over him. Instead, he wants you to do not very well. Then he can have an excuse to fire you..."
Which means that it's not really play along and don't get fired, it's play along and get fired at an indeterminate time that under such a manager probably is much sooner than later.
It seems that if your boss really fears you being promoted over him, that implies it must be a serious possibility. Since in either case, focusing or not focusing on politics gets you get fired (i.e, it's not actionable, or at best futilely so), why sit and wait on the feedlot to get slaughtered and instead focus on what you do control, getting a promotion and building the skills/doing the things that get you closer to that?
But if you play along, you have a good chance of lasting for some years before the manager fires you to hire someone else he wants so he can have an excuse to pay more so that he can get paid more.
So, right, can get fired either way.
Maybe a big lesson is, do things that are good AND very visible to the higher ups. That also is politics.
And then the other lesson, start your own business.
In a lot of organizations, the worker bees are encouraged to believe that their job is secure, secure enough they can get their kids through school, pay off the house mortgage, etc. For this, the worker bees are willing to accept less pay. But in such a company, firing people starts to convince people that their their job is not secure and want to leave to get just the extra money, what they are really worth.
Generally, a job in a large business organization is one heck of a poor source of family financial security; a lot of people get lucky, but many get badly hurt.
Generally young people should aim at owning their own business.
1) Don't end your sentences on a rising inflection. Makes you sound unsure.
2) Don't nod you heard more than once during a sentence when someone else is speaking. Makes you look to eager.
3) Take a breath before you speak. Doing so makes you come across as confident, prepared, thoughtful, and composed.
That dog looks so happy. If only human happiness were so easy.
That kind of remains a cliché, but it's less relevant today.
I have some advice about how to succeed in life: "Figure out how to perform better in your life."
- Surround yourself with great people
- Consider changing where you live
- Save money
- Look for ways to become more productive
- Figure out how to perform better in your job
- Think better
The authors could consider cutting out points that sound like platitudes that can be found in a standard self-help guide or magazine.
That tripped my hypocrisy alarm, hard.
Good article, I think if one approaches it openly and without cynicism it's bringing together actually quite a lot of good suggestions. Have just ordered one of the recommended books - I must be in a receptive frame of mind :-)
This is a joke right?
Dear websites: please please stop doing this.
What a time to be alive!
The trouble with self-help advice is that it’s often based
on barely any evidence.
... [however] we’ve found that there are a number of
evidence-backed steps that anyone can take to become more
productive and successful in their career...
So we’ve gathered up all the best advice we’ve found over
our last five years of research.
In many cases, the evidence isn’t as strong as we’d like.
Rather, it’s the best we’re aware of. We’ve tried to come
to an all-considered view of what makes sense to try
I was hoping to see some actual evidence, but instead I found product advertisements and cheap motivational shit.
Aside from your other complaints, what's wrong with these two pieces of advice? They seem like completely sensible things that far too many people eschew.
Flossing is nearly useless (the studies that led to ADA recommendations turned out to be deeply flawed and inconclusive).
Retirement is a historically relatively recent concept which doesn't make people happy.
Some programming paradigms obviate the need for array length checks, eg with robust constructs for nil.
I note these not to be argumentative, but to highlight that defining what's "obvious" as the right thing to do is anything but.
Since we're going into a high level of detail, I want to point out that "nearly useless" implies that we've concluded no correlation. We actually just don't have a conclusion, so "we don't know" is much more accurate. I got your point, but let's make sure to stay on the right side of rigor.
Retirement: feel free to substitute "retirement" with "time period at end of life that usually correlates with less ability to draw income." The advice is still sound whether or not you choose to retire at 65. There are exceptions, but if you're that rich, then you're a tiny exceptional minority of the potential audience of the advice.
Array length checks: as long as indexing into arrays is a thing, it's going to remain good advice the vast majority of the time. Thankfully most modern languages realized that it's better if the language does the low level bounds checking for you, but high level bounds checking is still very much a thing.
What counts as "obvious" is like what counts as a "heap" of sand. The exact line is subjective, but there's a point where pretty much everyone is in agreement. Defining what's "obvious" in the gray middle area is hard, but defining what's "obvious" or "not obvious" on the extremes tends to be far easier.
If you want to be better at small talk, make small talk any opportunity you can (or become an Uber/Lyft driver, tour guide, or some other job that requires you to use these skills). If you want to be better at flirting, flirt. Make note of when you're practicing, try and look for social/body language cues and make adjustments. Replay the conversation later in your head and figure out places you can do better next time. Then try again.
This is very important, as well as, as you say, just doing it.
You (the general you) have a better chance of going on a date if you ask ten people than if you ask only one. You need to be able to handle that not every interaction will be successful, that sometimes people are not interested, and then you just cut it short and move on. Since it's important to get as much practice as possible, it's better to have ten short conversations at the coffee machine, in the elevator, and so on during the day, than one prepared line to say to the person at the front desk as you leave for the day.
Another suggestion to practice talking to people is to approach people who work in clothing stores, cafes, libraries, and so on, and talk to them. They get payed to talk to you, and will make an effort to make the conversation be pleasant for you. You probably won't have the deepest conversations, but the idea is just to experience what it's like to small talk with people. You can either talk about clothes, books, or coffee, or tell them something small about your day and see if they pick it up and asks a follow up questions.
You do it the same way if you suffer from social anxiety. You are just forced to practice coping with anxiety at the same time.
Asking people about themselves and listening is a great place to start. Caring about the interaction/person helps too.
And like someone else posted: practice.
Watching others interact with people is good too, just be wary of modeling people too much. Some people can make a whole room laugh with a single phrase, while others would get slapped for saying the same thing. Delivery counts, and it's not always obvious what it is in the delivery that matters.
But we'd like to find more.
HN might not be the best place.
Which reminds me, I just watched an excellent documentary on Karl Marx which was very timely. It's largely forgotten what he was really about I think.
Really hit home that his concept of the "Surplus Value" of a worker is just as important if not more so today as it was the day he critiqued capitalism in the 1800's.
Shame about how his work was twisted into authoritarian dictatorship by the likes of Stalin. You just can't win :/
You really just nailed it though.
Next week, back to Nietzsche.
I'm pretty sure it was Marx himself who first used the phrase "dictatorship of the proletariat".
"All of human history is based around class struggles punctuated by revolutions, and in modern times this continues with those who own the means of production (Capitalists) having all the power over the common workers (employees). But don't worry because Capitalism is a self-destructive system, and soon there will be a socialist revolution, which will ultimately evolve into a Communist state, and then everything will be cool."
The only real implementation details he talks about have to do with some kind of transitional "pre-Communist" society, where he talks about nationalization of banks and railroads and other things.
I think Marx is better read as a philosophy of human history rather than as a blueprint for creating a Communist society.
The reality is Marx is right in the sense that the "ownership class" (those who own the means of production) continue to accumulate wealth and project disproportionate power because they own large amounts of corporate stock and by extension have control over the physical (or digital) means to keep making money. However, in the Western World, no revolution was forthcoming due to (I conjecture) rising standards of living and a consumer-oriented society, along with a blurring of the lines between the "ownership" class and everyone else (via things like stock options, entrepreneurship, Unions, employee rights, etc.), which certainly diluted Marx's eternal class-struggle narrative. Still, at the end of the day, we find ourselves in a Capitalist world where the majority of wealth is concentrated in < 0.0001% of the overall population, which seems to be an undesirable situation.
So on and so forth. The centralization of wealth and power into a rich few running a bunch of oligopolies provably harms the many in this country. Directly when there was immediate layoffs, low quality/security, bad services, etc. Then indirectly in long-term and network affects.
That doesn't necessarily follow, for reasons you allude to. Massive wealth inequality is a lot more tolerable, if the _poor_ people are (by historical standards) incredibly wealthy.
Captitalism as it stands is totally unsustainable. Communism too but that was not Marx's idea that his critique should lead to what it became.
Some form of socialism is important. It should be drummed in to people that societal progress is based on individual choices.
Rand got it backwards, Marx got it forwards.
There is a middle ground, I'm sure of it; at least I hope so.
I don't think a country the size of the US, China or Russia can really be a democracy governed by and for the people.
Personally, I'm a big fan of a couple of approaches that I think would work well in concert:
* Federalism. Devolve as much power as practical down to the State (or, as I suspect will happen, the City-State, level). Taking the USA as an example (I'm not American myself), you'd pare back all of the unconstitutional three-letter-departments (FCC, FDA, EPA, ...) and leave those up to the States.
* Sortition. Don't select the Government by voting, select it by random poll of the citizenry, in much the same way as jury duty is arranged in many countries.
* Libertarianism. Legislate to protect rights and in the case of collective problems (e.g. atmospheric pollution, which may surprise people by being the go-to example Rand reached for as a case where environmental legislation may be justified by human costs), but nothing else.
I don't think Marx anticipated just how many chocolates Eight Billion people were capable of eating.
Funnily enough, I remember going to some talks about something called "Economy of Communion", to which an audience member asked a similar question.
The response: think globally, act locally.
I wish I could remember more about the explanation, and although I remember not being completely satisfied with the answer, I also remember thinking that it made sense and it's probably better than the alternatives.
The ideas in and of themselves were profound but the prescription was unfortunately childishly naive.
That given sufficient resources and everyone pulling together we will all get along is great, but it just takes one self-interested outlier to spoil that soup, and there are plenty of those to go around.
Some people can just never have enough.
Personally I believe self interest is pre-programmed at the genetic level in all species. Dawkins wrote a book about that, and it manifests itself in everything we do individually or across species.
So back to your question, that's a good one.
The only way to make it work is probably some kind of authoritarianism, but perhaps authoritarianism comes in many flavors.
I'm highly suspicious that a single individual can do it. Even if they are a benevolent dictator they can be corrupted by the people who surround them. It really doesn't take much to Gaslight someone and it happens a lot more and in more subtle ways than many of us think.
So what is a more pure form of a benevolent dictator. A computer program with hard rules that we agree upon?
At least it would be consistent.
Then again, the program would be written initially by our own genome, and it better be pretty clever to quickly figure out how to ignore that aspect.
But just imagine it ,a logical machine that only does the right thing to maximize outcome... (Already sounds like the Genome)
Planet in jeopardy, insufficient resources, no way to create more resources? Simple answer, kill a percentage of the populace.
Looks pretty Stalinesque already. But I guess you already know that.
It's a problem for sure.
There are radical ideas to sidestep it, but those would take more than a spoonful of sugar I think to get the medicine to go down.
As far as dictatorship of the proletariat...
"In Marxist sociopolitical thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a state in which the proletariat, or the working class itself has control of political power."
The big mistake I see in HN is that the members believe themselves to be elites, which for the time being may well be true, and many here are making hay. Probably a wise move.
The truth is we are also soon to be no more than axle turners in wheel factories, and many of us already are.
I'm not a dystopian, I really am an optimist. Hence the desperation.
Many of us are waiting for the day that the wealth is spread to the outer reaches of the populace, those who have not. I suspect, we'd see a huge explosion of wealth for both less and more wealthy people. Here I'm not just talking about dollars on the bank statement, but a happy, enjoyable society to spend you time in. You don't have to step over the homeless person, for example.
Stop concentrating wealth, what does that mean? You're just going to give people stuff? Yep, you get a phone, you get shelter and everyone gets a bed, meal and healthcare.
We used to talk about having "Fuck You" money back in the day.
What was the amount of cash required to get off the system.
Turns out it isn't that much, and it would be even less if the system was geared around that mentality.
I need groceries, some nice olive oil a nice clean bathroom, perhaps a bottle of wine and watch a couple of movies.
Just provide that to everyone and lay out the propaganda to set the bar that this is all you need.
If you want more than that, taxation should go through the roof on an exponential scale, and not to be fed into the military, but fed to others to get them to the same basic standard.
Anyone with billions in their bank account should be very embarrassed by that fact, and I hope they are.
People have to sleep at night, even them.
I think it's an Open University production by the BBC
In contemporary society, things are nice enough that people typically trade a fraction of their time in exchange for work, income, and reduced risk exposure. This is a nice comfy abstraction over the cold reality that you need resources to live and you need to work and fight to keep living.
The alternatives to this are:
a) socialism/communism type deal where the government controls your work output and resource provision; even if it works out (it usually doesn't), you have far less control than you do now.
b) unspecialized agriculture-based society; every second of every day is spent producing just enough food and material goods long enough for you to raise children that take over when you die. Your options are limited; you are perilously exposed to acts of God (what happens if the crop fails?). You are not in control.
c) hunter-gatherer setup; you are still not in control of your own life. You have no option than to spend the vast majority of your day seeking food (without agriculture you really do need to spend almost all of your time on that work). Ask one of these people what a 'weekend' or 'vacation' looks like.
The reality is, modern society gives you many more options than were possible even 100 years ago. International (and even local) travel is commonplace; you can choose to start a startup or work for yourself; you can choose to buy or not buy hundreds of thousands of products, many of which were not existing or even possible in the recent past; etc. You can even choose to leave it all behind and live on the land.
Don't confuse dissatisfaction with your own life choices with lack of control.
An average peasant in the feudalism had more free time than an average 9-5 office worker now.
In fact, the 8 hour work day is a recent feature. When capitalism arrived initially, it was much worse.
The rest of your post shows that you had an easy life, and I'm happy for you. But don't assume everybody can start a startup, travel etc. That's just not the reality out there.
If you want the lifestyle of a medieval peasant, you can do that now. No one is stopping you.
But if organization acts immorally and increases profit through unethical methods, it drains motivation and makes employees a lot less inclined to put effort into 9-5 jobs.
Keep in mind that the fidelity of the simulations will only improve with technology (e.g. VR.)
I'm not even 100% on this theory and it's one of my least researched so there's plenty of room for someone to come and slay me with data but I think the discussion definitely needs to come from a place of "pre-agricultural humans living their pre-agricultural life while ignorant of modern life" compared to "modern humans living their modern lives", rather than one of "well why don't you just go live in a forrest if you like it so much!?"
AFAIK most aboriginal tribes are quite peaceful. Rivalry with other tribes around territory and food sources lead to fights that look closer sparring and rarely lead to any wounded.
Fortunately there are no rules for what you are supposed to feel happy about. If you are convinced that being an employee means you should not be happy, then that's a (painful) psychological trick as well. Even if you run your own business, you still have customers to satisfy, so are they in control of your life? Regardless if you work for yourself or not, you are always working to provide value to someone else. You are always selling yourself; your abilities & time.
Or, to put in even another way, Life.
To all the 'gracious employers': we are sick of working for pennies while you peddle psychobabble to get us to work harder. The problem is our exploitation. The end.
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14197344 (which was bad enough in the first place) and marked it off-topic.
Scarecrow addendum: this isn't against any ideology, it's against arguments about them.
And I _still_ think this article is a terrible advice. In capitalism, capital is the prime resource, to be gathered and kept. Being an employee is a good start, but I doubt it is a good lifelong strategy.
Absolutely, you need Atlas Shrugged on the bookshelf to understand the mess we find ourselves in.
The most amazing thing is the hypnotic scam that has been pulled, on us that makes us believe this is all our "lot in life".
I guess there are people out there who really believe the individualism in Atlas Shrugged is a model for society? My interpretation is that's darkly satirical humor.
Okay Ayn was a genius, but I think she had a sense of humor too. At least that is the way I would like to think of it.
In capitalism, we should not be glorifying working and generating profit for your employers (in socialist countries that was the state - but the same shit.).
Firstly, I'm curious how expressing an anti-capitalist sentiment differs from being critical of capitalism.
Secondly, I'd like to propose a few reasons why a person of sound mind might be anti-capitalist:
* There are several well known cases where market forces, in isolation, cannot solve a problem. This already leads one away from several forms of "pure" capitalism. Once you move away from pure capitalism though, you create new problems that require more complexity to solve (regulatory capture perhaps being one of the bigger ones).
* If you look at the post-industrial-revolution capitalistic societies, there is a massive underclass that was substantially made materially worse-off (yes, a generation or two later, society as a whole ends up in a generally better position, but it was accomplished by grinding up and spitting out cheap labor that typically did not directly benefit from it.
* There are some very serious environmental problems currently facing us, most notably global warming. Companies
that were profitable by externalizing the costs of these quire rationally found that the best way to maximize their profits was to muddy the scientific waters sufficiently to significantly delay any attempts at addressing these problems (which would certainly involve some way of preventing them from externalizing their costs).
There's probably a lot more that I'm not thinking of right now. I would suggest finding friends who are anti-capitalist and listening to their reasons, not with an eye to shutdown their response, but just to get a sense of differing views.
Even someone who agrees that the natural experiment of the 20th century proved capitalism is superior to communism (which is in itself debatable due to the low sample size and several confounding differences between the powers involved), might feel that some other non-capitalist form of economy could be superior.
To jump from parts to wholes exclusively in the case of capitalism/history — from "critical of capitalism" to "developmental issues" — probably indicates that you have some developmental issues.
Nah, no it doesn't. It implies that you're circumspect of introspection into the very reasonable path from being "critical of capitalism" to more being concerned about the negative externalities in free markets than, for example, armchair rocket-science or whatever hobby you engage with in the ample free time afforded to you as a member of the coddled petit bourgeois while still managing to ride a high horse around the subject of anti-capitalism.
You do not, of course, see why anyone would be critical of a system that has given YOU so much, but of course to dismiss the active cynic of capitalism is to exclude yourself from your own liberation.
Had YOU been there, you would not have been redeemed.
Capitalism is greed: it is the accumulation of what you are not morally owed.
"Don't ask what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."