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Fallible Ideas Learning Plan

Lots of people tell me they like Fallible Ideas (FI), they're interested, they think it's good, etc. Some of them try to learn more about FI, or think they're trying, or something like that, but then they don't learn much about FI philosophy. Others like FI and vaguely plan to do something about it, but never do much.

This is sad because learning FI philosophy can improve people's lives. Applied to problems people have, it can help provide solutions.

People often have reasons in their head which justify not doing much about FI. Or they do things that seem like learning FI to them, but which don't create visible results which could be criticized if incorrect. Most typically, ineffective FI engagement involves non-interactive content consumption: watching, listening, reading but without writing or discussing. Relying on self-criticism is inadequate, especially at first.

If you want to learn FI, consider a learning plan. Here's an example:

  • Try to work on FI every day, but missing 1 or 2 days per week is OK.
  • Working on FI means at least 15 minutes that day. But for the first month, two days per week can be 5 minute days. In the second month, you can do one 5 minute day each week.
  • Once a week, do at least an hour of FI stuff (30 min in the first month, 45 min in the second month).
  • Every day you do FI work, share what you did. The requirement is to write it down and share it on the same day you did it, and the recommendation is to do that immediately afterwards. This is just a basic overview like "I read X" which will keep records of what you do.
  • Starting after 3 months, at least once a week, share some work product publicly. This means sharing an idea, explanation, argument ... something people could discuss, debate, and criticize.
  • Once a month, consider the bigger picture, e.g.: what are your goals and your progress on them, what topics are you working on, why, are you satisfied with your progress over the last month, what progress has been exposed to criticism successfully, what progress has been exposed to what objective tests to check for errors, what are your goals for the next month?
  • The first day of the week is Saturday. (You're welcome to pick a different day. I like Friday or Saturday so you don't procrastinate stuff for the weekend. Depending on your sleep cycle you may also want to specify e.g. that days start at 5am.)
  • Be at least 90% consistent about following the plan. Write down every time you miss doing a plan requirement (which requirement was missed and the date). Keep counts of successes and failures so you can compare the percentage. I suggest a spreadsheet. Keep notes about why you miss stuff and what happens (they can be private if you prefer) and watch out for patterns, bad habits and problems. Share your miss counts and consistency percentage weekly until you succeed every week for 3 months in a row, then share it monthly.
  • If you fall a bit short in the early months, keep trying. But if you don't actually do the plan, the consequences are: don't tell yourself, or anyone else, that you're learning FI philosophy. The point here isn't to discourage people, it's to help you. That's because pretending you're learning FI, when you aren't, is a common thing that prevents or sabotages learning FI.

This can be done in around 10 hours per month minimum, but involves doing something on most days.

If some part of this plan wouldn't work for you, or it's just too hard, make a different plan. Change some things to what will work for you. You could e.g. start with a lower consistency target, but don't go under 66% – if you can't even be that consistent, make your plan easier so that you can actually do it. If the example plan sounds too hard, think about why it would be hard for you. You can discuss your plan ideas to get tips and feedback.

In general, you should place a low value on progress which has not been exposed to external criticism and objective tests.

In general, you should place a high value on finishing things. After doing an FI learning plan for a while, you should have a list of accomplishments instead of just 50 things you started and then stopped halfway through. It's fine to stop some things partway through and to look at a variety of stuff and be selective, but you should also finish some. That can be small things like finishing reading an essay, or bigger things like finishing a book or finishing a project to learn about an essay by writing notes about it and discussing one idea related to it (and having some goal which the discussion reaches).

It'd be a good idea to hire curi or ingracke to talk with you for an hour a month regarding your monthly review.

If you take FI seriously, it'd be a good idea to be a paying customer in some way, especially on a regular basis. E.g. contributing any amount per month is significantly better for you than zero. (Don't worry about it if you're actually too poor or can't do online payments to the US, especially if you're a kid. But if you can spend $20+/month on luxuries and can pay US dollars online, you could afford at least $2/month for FI, and you should if you genuinely care about it.)

Decide on your own learning plan and write it down and put it somewhere with a permalink. I suggest putting it on a website you control where you can edit it with updates in the future. I suggest everyone have a website they control even if you mostly post directly to curi and FI (directly as opposed to putting stuff on your own site and sharing a link, which is fine too).

Some people want to do freeform, unscheduled, unstructured learning. They think it's more rational or fun. Most people are bad at that. Anyway, it's fine to do that if you get results which clearly surpass those of the example learning plan above. Otherwise, you should do a plan. You can do all the extra learning you want in addition to the plan. Since the plan only takes around 10 hours a month minimum, just stick to the minimum when you're doing extra learning and you should still have time for more. But the plan doesn't dictate what you learn, anyway.

If you can do more and better learning, great. But don't let those aspirations get in the way of doing something concrete like the learning plan above. At least do that. If you can't or won't even do that, you shouldn't pretend to yourself that you're involved with FI. IMO, you should be happy if you can do this, and be happy with progress that looks kinda small to you. It's far better than no progress. And keep in mind that people in general in our culture (like you) are bad at judging how good/effective philosophy progress is or where it will lead. Our culture doesn't understand philosophy learning projects well and doesn't adequately respect the important early-stage work to achieve mastery over the relatively basic skills related to rational, critical thinking.

You don't have to be very ambituous at the start, and probably shouldn't be. If you read some stuff and write down what you read, that's enough to follow most of the plan. At first, get used to doing the plan itself and solve the problems you have with making the plan part of your life. Later you can worry more about saying your opinions of ideas, explaining concepts yourself, or debating issues (you're allowed to do those things early on, you're just not being asked to). More broadly, the goal is to get something working; you can add whatever you want after it's already working consistently and reliably.

Note: One of people's biggest problems with FI, besides the hard stuff (e.g. dishonesty, evasion, disliking criticism, refusing to try, static memes, irrationality), is dealing with people in writing instead of voice (and also there being a time delay, often hours, between saying something and getting a response, which is different than an IRL or phone conversation where people respond in a few seconds). Some people also broadly prefer listening to video or audio over reading. It's important to learn to deal with this stuff well and get used to using text. It's a valuable skill and should be one of your main goals early on. But if you find that hard, you can start by learning from videos and podcasts, and you could say what you did that day in a short video or audio recording, or do that in writing but say your more complicated thoughts with your voice. Try to start with something you can do and expand from there.

Note: Sometimes people do FI work and think that the time they spent doesn't count for some reason. Creating a gmail account and signing up to FI counts as working on FI stuff. Figuring out how to send a plain text email counts, including watching a video about it. Finding mind map software and learning to use it counts. So does spreadsheet, text editing or blogging software as long as you plan to use it for FI stuff. Watching a video someone from FI linked counts too. Reading novels to get more used to reading regularly (even using audio books or text-to-speech initially with e.g. a plan to do text reading for your 4th book) is relevant to FI too. You don't have to be reading or writing philosophy to count the time you spend. Be inclusive by default about what counts as FI time, and make some adjustments if you see a recurring pattern that you want to change. (The minimum for a problematic pattern is three times, but it's often better to first become concerned with it after somewhere between five and a dozen times.)


Elliot Temple on February 25, 2020

Messages (19)

Plan is for people who already *want* to work on FI stuff. It's not designed for getting uninterested people interested.

It's also not designed for people who are like "I'm new here and just seeing what FI is." Sure, look around, lurk, see if you like it, try stuff out a bit, whatever. If you didn't think you were learning FI much or getting significantly involved, no problem, you aren't fooling yourself or failing at a goal you have.


curi at 11:04 AM on February 26, 2020 | #15634 | reply | quote

If you try a learning plan and it doesn't work, try to figure out what the problem(s) are. If it helps reveal or identify problems, that's good. You can also talk about it with others who have seen a lot of problems before, and have experience and expertise with this kinda stuff, and can give an outside perspective (seeing your own problems can be hard, people often have some biases and blindnesses that are easier to avoid for people who aren't involved). You can discuss in this topic, other curi topics, on FI google group or on FI discord.


curi at 1:24 PM on February 28, 2020 | #15672 | reply | quote

#15672 Even if it does work, it won't work perfectly. You can write down hard parts. And also in general you can write down anything you find hard or the problems you get stuck on some. Then you can look for patterns to figure out what's going on better.


curi at 1:32 PM on February 28, 2020 | #15673 | reply | quote

>Every day you do FI work, share what you did. The requirement is to write it down and share it on the same day you did it, and the recommendation is to do that immediately afterwards. This is just a basic overview like "I read X" which will keep records of what you do.<

Where do I share it. Discord or FI group?


jorge at 1:49 PM on April 1, 2020 | #16213 | reply | quote

This website, Discord, or FI group. Up to you. Website or FI are good for keeping longer term records instead of just temporary messages.

https://curi.us/2309-fallible-ideas-community-overview


curi at 1:53 PM on April 1, 2020 | #16214 | reply | quote

I started a blog some days ago. I post my FI Learning Plan there.

https://nicholasderoj.com/fi-log/


nikluk at 9:57 PM on April 5, 2020 | #16282 | reply | quote

My learning plan and log

I love this learning plan idea! I've been doing my learning plan for 5 days now. Doing my learning plan helps me integrate my ideas much much better than I was able to do previously. I've noticed a significant improvement in the number of integrations [1] I make per day. I wrote a blog post about this and I titled it _The mind is a file cabinet_ [2]. Here's what I said:

> While I was thinking about my learning plan [3], I thought of the mind as a file cabinet.

>

> I imagined a file cabinet that is very messy and chaotic vs one that is very organized.

>

> One is practically impossible to find stuff in and the other is very easy to find stuff in.

>

> I wouldn't want to try to find something in a messy file cabinet.

>

> So I guess if your mind is a messy file cabinet you could create a new file cabinet and start over. You could use the Fallible Ideas Learning Plan as a guide to start your new very-organized file cabinet. I guess you'd be including stuff from your old file cabinet if you happen to remember some of it and get lucky enough to find them when you're making your learning plan. And you could continue this process of moving things that you luckily find from your old file cabinet and put it in your new very-organized file cabinet.

Here's my 6/15/2020 learning plan and my log [3].

I used curi's blog post above and the discussion on FI email list about making Anne's learning plan [4] as a guide to making my learning plan.

[1] http://fallibleideas.com/integration

[2] https://ramirustom.blogspot.com/2020/06/the-mind-is-like-file-cabinet.html

[3] https://ramirustom.blogspot.com/2020/06/learning-plan.html

[4] https://groups.google.com/d/msg/fallible-ideas/wY8vo4bNy8c/caBp39EDBAAJ


GISTE at 10:08 AM on June 20, 2020 | #16749 | reply | quote

#16749 Stop circumventing the 2/wk FI posting limit by posting the same kind of stuff on a different forum. If you won't make a good faith effort to stop causing the same problems I was trying to get you to stop causing, I will have to make much stricter rules.

You're still going around trying to teach people FI stuff and here you're taking what should be a post on your blog and sharing it in violation of the 2 summaries per week.


curi at 2:24 PM on June 20, 2020 | #16751 | reply | quote

I don't want you to pressure me to speak to you by causing so much trouble I don't regard it as ignorable. I made a new policy and you immediately started acting against it instead of following the spirit of it. I'm going to escalate a lot next time because I don't want this to keep happening. Immediately find a way to stop causing trouble for me or I'll have to do way more.


curi at 2:26 PM on June 20, 2020 | #16752 | reply | quote

Progress exposed to criticism

> Once a month, consider the bigger picture, e.g.: what are your goals and your progress on them, what topics are you working on, why, are you satisfied with your progress over the last month, what progress has been exposed to criticism successfully, what progress has been exposed to what objective tests to check for errors, what are your goals for the next month?

Does "what progress has been exposed to criticism successfully" mean that if we want to claim that we've made progress in a particular area, we should state evidence that we've made progress and ask for criticism of our conclusion that we've made that progress? If not, what does it mean?


Anne B at 1:06 PM on October 15, 2020 | #18313 | reply | quote

Here’s an example:

http://justinmallone.com/2020/10/some-thoughts-on-my-experience-taking-leonard-peikoffs-grammar-course/

> I am paying more attention, on an automated basis, to various issues like parallelism, subject-verb agreement, and the use of appropriate clauses/phrases when writing.

>

> I’m catching more errors than I used to in my own writing and in other people’s writing.

I often think this kind of thing too. But I don’t have evidence that I’m paying more attention to X or catching more of Y kind of error, I just have intuition. Can we assume our intuition is right on this kind of thing or is there a good way to verify it?


Anne B at 3:44 AM on October 17, 2020 | #18346 | reply | quote

> Can we assume our intuition is right on this kind of thing

no


Anonymous at 9:18 PM on October 23, 2020 | #18459 | reply | quote

> Can we assume our intuition is right on this kind of thing or is there a good way to verify it?

This sentence I wrote is wrong. It should be something like:

Can we assume our intuition is right on this kind of thing? If not, what are some good ways to find out if our intuition is right?


Anne B at 10:32 AM on October 24, 2020 | #18466 | reply | quote

My most recent learning plans and weekly progress reports are here:

https://aelanwave.wordpress.com/category/learning-plans/

I don't think my current learning plan is very effective. I don't think I'm doing much different than I would be without my learning plan. And I think I'd be happier if I saw my learning activities as optional rather than as things I have to do because I've committed to doing them.

Any comments on the kinds of things I'm writing about in my weekly progress reports? I don't like doing the reports, so I'm considering just doing monthly progress reports or no progress reports. I'd still keep loose track of my learning activities and reflect on them (privately) once in a while.

Anyone have a learning plan you're happy with and want to share it and/or talk about what you like about it?

Anyone have suggestions for what I could change about my learning plan to make it more useful to me?

Anyone want to say why you don't have a learning plan?


Anne B at 11:19 AM on November 24, 2020 | #18836 | reply | quote

#18836

From https://aelanwave.wordpress.com/2020/11/22/progress-report-november-22/

> 3. I dread writing these progress reports.

I found something similar. I got over that a bit with https://curi.us/2377-learning-updates-thread#18653 but in general I don't look forward to it. I think part of that has to do with not keeping an incremental record of the week/month as I go. I think it'd be easier if I did that.

> I'd still keep loose track of my learning activities and reflect on them (privately) once in a while.

Why not reflect on them publicly too? I found that I was initially reluctant to do public reflection (wrt tutoring videos) b/c there was maybe some aspect of shame I felt, or something like that. This was one of the times that 'powering through' helped me get over it (this seems to work for me with things I feel shame about).

> Anyone want to say why you don't have a learning plan?

I don't explicitly have one atm, but I do have learning related goals. Maybe those do a similar thing to a learning plan.

Some things that occur to me:

- a learning plan is something you should have for yourself, what do you want to learn/achieve/etc. It can help make goals explicit and criticisable.

- if a style of learning plan isn't working for you then you can change it.

- learning plan != learning reports. you don't need an explicit plan to do reports, though without explicit goals it can be hard to tell if you're meeting your own expectations and the like.

- making progress is more important than having a learning plan, but you might not be able to make progress as effectively. I guess this changes person to person though.

- forcing yourself to do stuff (willpower) is not good IMO. If you think you're doing that then it points to some conflict -- maybe that's due to the material or something else, but it's worth thinking about and trying to resolve.

> Anyone have suggestions for what I could change about my learning plan to make it more useful to me?

What are the things you don't like about it atm?

> And I think I'd be happier if I saw my learning activities as optional rather than as things I have to do because I've committed to doing them.

What's stopping you changing your perspective? I see all my FI stuff as optional atm, but there's lots of stuff I want to do (and so I do it of my own accord, no conflict / feeling bad).

Who do you think you're committing to?


Max at 6:30 PM on November 24, 2020 | #18839 | reply | quote

If you dread it, don't do it. in general, if you do things while hating them you are sabotaging your progress, as Anne has already been told several times.

if you mildly dislike something you can give it a try anyway, if you want to, but if you dread or hate it, definitely don't do it.

Look for a way to solve a problem. Don't just proceed with a refuted approach. You could solve the dread itself, or you could find an alternative solution to the problem that progress reports are trying to solve.


curi at 6:56 PM on November 24, 2020 | #18842 | reply | quote

not liking learning plans or progress reports

#18839

>> 3. I dread writing these progress reports.

>

> I found something similar. I got over that a bit with https://curi.us/2377-learning-updates-thread#18653 but in general I don't look forward to it. I think part of that has to do with not keeping an incremental record of the week/month as I go. I think it'd be easier if I did that.

I don’t mind keeping records as I go. I’ve been doing that. I don’t understand why I don’t like doing the progress reports.

>> I'd still keep loose track of my learning activities and reflect on them (privately) once in a while.

>

> Why not reflect on them publicly too? I found that I was initially reluctant to do public reflection (wrt tutoring videos) b/c there was maybe some aspect of shame I felt, or something like that. This was one of the times that 'powering through' helped me get over it (this seems to work for me with things I feel shame about).

Powering through them hasn’t worked. I’ve also tried changing my learning plan and changing the formats of my progress reports. So far that hasn’t helped.

>> Anyone want to say why you don't have a learning plan?

>

> I don't explicitly have one atm, but I do have learning related goals. Maybe those do a similar thing to a learning plan.

I wrote a new learning plan that is more like my older ones than like my more recent ones. It’s more about goals than amounts of time. It is here:

https://aelanwave.wordpress.com/2020/11/27/learning-plan-november-27/

[snip]

> - forcing yourself to do stuff (willpower) is not good IMO. If you think you're doing that then it points to some conflict -- maybe that's due to the material or something else, but it's worth thinking about and trying to resolve.

Agreed. These posts are a way of thinking about the problem and trying to resolve it.

>> And I think I'd be happier if I saw my learning activities as optional rather than as things I have to do because I've committed to doing them.

>

> What's stopping you changing your perspective? I see all my FI stuff as optional atm, but there's lots of stuff I want to do (and so I do it of my own accord, no conflict / feeling bad).

I don’t know how to change my perspective on this. I can’t just command myself to think something different. There’s a part of me that believes I can’t learn without unpleasantness, even though I have proof that that isn’t true.

Sometimes I’m drawn to doing a learning activity and don’t want to stop. But usually I don’t think I’m doing enough and I pressure myself to do more. I’m afraid that if I only do stuff I really want to do, I’ll learn very little. And I want to learn more than very little.

I am considering only doing learning activities when I really want to. There are two problems with that: 1) I might lie to myself about whether I really want to do something and pretend to myself that I really want to when I don’t. 2) It would be very difficult to stop the voice in my head from telling me I should be doing some learning activity. That voice is so ingrained that I often don’t consciously notice it there.

> Who do you think you're committing to?

I think I’m committing both to myself and to some image of myself that I want other people to see. I both want to think I’m learning and want other people to think I’m learning.

Another thought:

From the original post in this thread:

> But if you don't actually do the plan, the consequences are: don't tell yourself, or anyone else, that you're learning FI philosophy.

I do think I’m learning FI philosophy, and I think I’d be learning it without a learning plan or progress reports. But I just have intuition on that—I don’t have objective ways of measuring my learning. Doing a learning plan and progress reports is objective. I can know whether I’ve done them or not. If I’m doing them, that’s one thing that doesn’t rule out that I could be learning.

So, big picture:

I changed my learning plan again. I’ve changed it several times over the past few months, trying to solve this problem. I will also try only doing a monthly progress report, and no weekly reports, and see how that goes. However, I suspect this won’t solve the problem and that I need to do something else.


Anne B at 8:34 AM on November 27, 2020 | #18876 | reply | quote

#18842

> If you dread it, don't do it. in general, if you do things while hating them you are sabotaging your progress, as Anne has already been told several times.

I can see that it’s bad to do things while hating them. It’s a waste of time and it leads to more bad feelings, and those bad feelings get in the way of progress. Is that part or all of what you mean by sabotaging progress? What else?

> if you mildly dislike something you can give it a try anyway, if you want to, but if you dread or hate it, definitely don't do it.

It’s often hard for me to tell the difference between mildly disliking something and hating it. I’ve learned to do stuff that is supposed to be good for me, even if I dislike it. I have learned to suppress hate and dislike in order to make unpleasant things more bearable. It’s notable that school is supposedly where learning happens, and that was one of the big things I probably learned to suppress my dislike and hate of.

> Look for a way to solve a problem. Don't just proceed with a refuted approach. You could solve the dread itself, or you could find an alternative solution to the problem that progress reports are trying to solve.

I’ve been trying to do the second of these, by changing my learning plan a few times to try to make it more pleasant for me. Ultimately, I think I’ll need to figure out the dread and do something about it. It’s a hard problem for me and an important one.


Anne B at 8:56 AM on November 27, 2020 | #18877 | reply | quote

>> If you dread it, don't do it. in general, if you do things while hating them you are sabotaging your progress, as Anne has already been told several times.

>

> I can see that it’s bad to do things while hating them. It’s a waste of time and it leads to more bad feelings, and those bad feelings get in the way of progress. Is that part or all of what you mean by sabotaging progress? What else?

By waste of time, I mean that doing things while hating them takes time away from doing other things that might lead to better learning. By bad feelings getting in the way of progress, I mean it's harder to think and learn when you have bad feelings.

Anyone have more thoughts on this? I wonder if I'm missing something.


Anne B at 3:17 PM on December 2, 2020 | #18935 | reply | quote

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