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Epistemic status: Confident I learned a lesson; unsure if this is worth sharing but hopeful it might be


What this post is:  

This is a brief, perhaps mundane story about how I was reminded of the importance of doing my research before diving deeply into a project that felt like "the most important thing ever" at the moment.


This weekend I learned a valuable lesson, or rather I had some cached wisdom solidified for me. What was this wisdom? 

Look before you leap

  • Do the research 
  • Check if similar work already exists.
  • Reevaluate your motivations

Note: This approach is aligned with the scout mindset, focusing not on being first to claim and conquer but to carefully explore the terrain, consider others' ideas, and understand your own motivations.

Sometimes, the desire to produce something brilliant can push us towards an ego-driven "conqueror" mindset.[1]

Quick Story:

This Sunday, I had the intention of writing an entire thesis bridging Christianity and Longtermism. This was sparked by a discussion with a Baptist friend of mine who'd made the point that she "didn't feel the need to worry about existential risks because the future of humanity is in God's hands." After this, my mind started making all sorts of connections. I call it my philosophic confirmation bias on steroids. 

So I decided, without much research, it was up to me to write a huge thesis bridging the gap, explaining why it was part of the duty of Christians to use their apparent free will, their creative power, and to act by what Jesus might do... that sort of thing.

As I walked down to Church, I had the OpenAI app open on my phone, talking to it about all the ideas and saying "so basically I want to connect all these points I just said in a huge blurb, and have you put that into the Executive Summary template for the forum."

When I got home, some humility kicked in, and the shiny new object syndrome wore off temporarily.  I decided I would post a quick take on the EA forum as a way to feel out if this was something worth diving into. Good thing I did! I received responses linking to various websites that had already been set up and had done this very thing I was planning to do but in a much more structured way.

At first, I was a little disappointed that I wasn't the first one to put this together in a structured and systematic way, but after an ego check, I was very happy to see this was an area that was fleshed out, and that I could share with my friend.

So, lesson learned or rather, solidified.  

Why did I write this?

  1. Solidify the lesson
  2. Share the story
    1. Maybe you'll find it relevant
    2. Maybe you'll feel a kindredness
  3. Remind others to do the research
  4. Part of my effort to contribute to the community more
  1. ^

    This conqueror mindset is the kind of thinking where we want to be the first to claim a new idea or philosophy for ourselves.  





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