[SEQ RERUN] Beware of Other-Optimizing
Aspiring rationalists often vastly overestimate their own ability to optimize other people’s lives. They read nineteen webpages offering productivity advice that doesn’t work for them… and then encounter the twentieth page, or invent a new method themselves, and wow, it really works—they’ve discovered the true method. Actually, they’ve just discovered the one method in twenty that works for them, and their confident advice is no better than randomly selecting one of the twenty blog posts. Other-Optimizing is exceptionally dangerous when you have power over the other person—for then you’ll just believe that they aren’t trying hard enough.
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This post is part of the Rerunning the Sequences series, where we’ll be going through Eliezer Yudkowsky’s old posts in order so that people who are interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was Mandatory Secret Identities, and you can use the sequence_reruns tag or rss feed to follow the rest of the series.
Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day’s sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go here for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.