, , , ,

Needy Researchers Put Academy on a Pedestal

Here is what male seduction masters teach their students: don’t be needy and don’t put the woman on a pedestal. And yes, I am comparing researcher applying for grants to men hitting on women.

Read more

, , , , ,

The Easiest Way to Increase Your Reading Speed

What gets measured gets managed. Tim Ferriss tells in his book 4-hour-body about a guy who lost a significant part of weight by only measuring his weight. If there is a single thing in which our brains are notoriously outstanding, it is optimisation. Namely finding ways to increase (or decrease) a given parameter. Instead of trying to consciously make lists of things that may or may not help you read faster (posture?, light?, elimination of distractions?, Googling unknown words – yes or no?, door – closed or open?, tea?, how do I put my PDF-reader into full-screen mode?…)…. instead just measure the parameter you want to optimise: time. When I need to read an article fast, I take time with a stopwatch how much time it takes to read each page. The more I do it, the faster and more focused I read. I use my phone’s Read more

, , , , , , ,

The Power of Isolation

Last week I was sick. I had stomach pain so that I couldn’t eat or move much, but I was not prevented from thinking or writing. This meant that I isolated myself for several days from my day-to-day work: seminars, lectures and research-related meetings and was able to concentrate on a handful of thought-requiring projects. I believe this is how Stephen Hawking feels at the best of his times. What happened is that one of the projects that I have long considered to be one of my main ones progressed more than for a long time. It is paradoxical, because I have engaged in the project once in a while, even engaging other people with it. But it required a thorough thinking session on my side in order to get momentum. That’s not surprising given that I am a mathematician and this project is partly a mathematical one (partly cognitive science), but I believe that most big projects require a period of isolation. When you isolate yourself in order to work on a particular project, you go deep into the state of mind in which you think only about it. You get into a state of flow which is ‘flowing’ within the context of that project. If you do it once, say for a week, then it will be easier later to get back to the same state whenever you want and you will be able to focus even for short periods of time on the same thing.  In the modern world, taking such breaks is a dozen times more important, because we live in the state of an informational overflow. Another benefit is that you are not allowed to do anything else. Professor Wolf Singer told me, that he has Read more

, , , , ,

How to Tackle the Difficulty to Start

The difficulty to start may be one of the biggest setbacks in achieving almost anything in life. You sit down to write the first chapter of your book. You are bothered by some items on your desk, so you clean that first. Then you put some music on. No, but you can’t concentrate with this music, so you change the music. You adjust the brightness of your screen and then you check social media just in case. Then you think that maybe you should do something else instead, because writing a book may not pay off. You decide to stick to your plan, however, and write, but then you check how much time has passed and realise that you are actually thirsty….

Does this sound familiar? In my case it sometimes gets even worse. I used to start feeling guilt about Read more

, , , , , , ,

Ozora lecture submission

I submitted a proposal for a lecture to the Ozora festival. The lecture is supposed to cover the ways in which the contemporary cognitive science is able to tackle age old questions in the philosophy of mind. The exact content of the lecture is not yet fixed, but the range of topics includes:

  • What does cognitive science have to say about the Platonism/non-Platonism debate, i.e. do abstract concepts, such as mathematical ones, posses existence independent of humans or cognitive systems in general?
  • What can neuroscience tell us about the nature of experience, meaning and consciousness? Is having a powerful enough fMRI brain scanning techniques enough to understand the relationship between the mind and the body? Even if not, how can it help?
  • What is the enactivist-representationalist debate in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, and how is it related to meditation, embodiment, even Buddhism and spirituality?
  • How can artificial intelligence, in particular artificial neural networks illuminate our understanding of meaning, emergence and consciousness? What are the limitations and the possibilities of the present day AI systems? What is the moral and ethical side of developing thinking (and feeling?) machines?

An inspirational animation with text from Rosch, E., Varela, F., & Thompson, E. (1991). The embodied mind. Cognitive Science and Human Experience:

, , , , ,

More on my Algebra teaching

What tricks do you use in your teaching or have found useful while studying? Comment below!

A couple of months ago I wrote about my eccentric first algebra lecture. I am lecturing Algebra I in this semester which is in fact split into two parts. The teaching methodology this course is being taught in (and has been taught a couple years before me) is already of interest to people outside of our department. I have additionally experimented with some extra stuff such as magic tricks and YouTube videos and below I summarise all that.

Read more

, , , ,

Why Don’t I Eat For 3 Days?

Empty lunch (CC 3.0)

Empty lunch (CC 3.0)

I am in the middle of a three-day fast now. I haven’t eaten for more than 36 hours and there is a bit less than 36 hours to go. I am doing it together with a person whose identity will remain a mystery throughout this blog-post. The rules are: no calorie intake except for vitamin pills and exogenous ketones. So we can drink water and tea (without sugar). The main reason for me to start fasting is that I want to go on a ketogenic diet. Fasting is the easiest and fastest way to transition into nutritional ketosis.

  • Freedom from sugar addiction and a will power or a discipline challenge. These are what Dom highlights as the main benefits of the ketogenic diet. Same applies to fasting. Fasting requires even more discipline and will power than any diet, at least the first one or two days. To me quitting eating is comparable to quitting smoking which I experienced 16 months ago.

Read more

, , ,

A Bracelet Challenge

img-20161219-wa0001

In this post Tim Ferriss writes about the thought-awareness bracelet. It is a bracelet which you wear on either hand and whenever you complain about something (constructive criticism doesn’t count), you have to switch the hand on which the bracelet is. An exveption is when you complain without swearing and immediately offer a potential solution to the problem. The aim is to go 21 consequetive days without switching. In this way you teach yourself an important habit of finding solutions instead of just cursing how shitty life is amd generally focus on the more positive aspects of life. I believe this raises your base level of happiness. It also makes you aware how much energy and time people waste on plain complaining.

Read more