October, 2010

Oct 10

Information Cleanse


I have a number of ways that I put things off, but the main way is reading my news feeds.

So, I just unsubscribed from all 18 of them.

Most of the time, I did not even know that I was putting anything off. It just became a habit to get home, spend time with the family, and when free time came up, open up the laptop and pull up Google Reader. I could have chosen to do something productive when the free time came up. But, out of habit, I went to the news feed.

Reading the news (especially the kind that is customized to your interests) is a very difficult addiction to break. Keeping up to date on the latest happenings seems like a productive thing to do. Everyday I found out information that could have influenced the path I chose to take on projects at home or work. There were a ton of articles that I read that dove deep into technical subjects, listed out anti-akrasia techniques, analyzed world events, reviewed movies, linked to random, hilarious pictures, or consumed my time in any number of other interesting ways.

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Oct 10


Remember that post back in September about Clarity Breakers?

One of the three types of breakers that I listed was the mind. In particular: thought loops.

These are the thoughts that get stuck in my head for long periods of time. They steal away focus from things that I would prefer to be thinking about.

Sometimes these thought loops manifest themselves in the form of rumination.

Rumination is when you think about something in the past that may have caused you harm. You focus on how it happened or how you could have prevented it from happening. You try to figure out why it happened to you.

And the worst part of rumination is that when you are doing it, you continue doing it because you think it will help in some way.

But it almost never does.

I have found that for most of my rumination sessions, if I actually figure something out through rationality, I do it almost immediately. But then 20 minutes later, I realize that I am still thinking about it for no good reason. I know it is time to move on.

But I find myself back in that loop, again. Unfortunately, the thought control that rationality provides me is not enough in these cases.

The way out is mindfulness.

Oct 10

Moving the Goalposts

GoalpostHow many times have you been in an argument with someone and the other person changes their stance in the middle of the conversation? And how many times have you just gone along with it?

Usually, the arguer does not completely reverse his or her position. They just tweak their argument a little.

Skepticwiki.org lists an example about a movie reviewer here.

In the example, the antagonist makes a claim with an example that is incorrect. Then the antagonist keeps making excuses for why his examples are incorrect.

The antagonist did not make the goal on his first kick, so he moves the goalposts in order to score.

I know that this happens to me all the time.  And I just go right along with it.  For some reason, I ignore the obvious goalpost movement and continue to argue against the main point.

But what I should be doing is acknowledging that the opponent is compromising his argument.  His point may be completely valid and it is just the one example that is wrong.  But since he is unwilling to admit that he is wrong in anyway, his main argument is weakened by the incorrect example.

If I want to come to an agreement with my opponent, I could try to find a working example for him.  If I can think of one, I could identify how the example works with my side of the argument also.

If I just want to win the argument, I could force him to admit that he is wrong. Immediately after that, I would site examples that work for my side and state that it was the end of the argument.

Photo courtesy of timparkinson 

Oct 10

A New York Minute

New York at NightI just got back from New York City.

The pace of living there is completely different from where I live. I am used to moving fairly quickly at work and slowing down at home.

But New Yorkers move fast, all the time.

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