Mentat wiki month
A month-long intensive exploration of mind hacks with a curriculum based on the materials on the Mentat Wiki. We're going to go meta and see how much we can tinker with and accelerate our own learning processes.
To participate for a given week's cycle within the month of May:
- Post the hack you're trying to install in your brain under that week's listing (see format below)
- When the week is up, post your results.
- Conversations can be had in realtime on the #wikiversity channel on freenode.
- Mel will be there during afternoons (EST) but will happily make plans to be online at specific times if someone wants to talk.
- Please comment and give feedback on what other people do.
- Also, please improve this process. It's a strawman. (When you improve it, remember to post the old process under /Old Processes as an archive).
Participation is broken down by study groups that dedicate a month to exploring this topic together. Each group self-governs its own proceedings.
May 1 - 31, 2008
For the current session (month of May). When the session ends or the page length gets too onerous, we'll move this to an Archive page. The goal is to build (or revise) a toolbox of mental hacks or things you've always wanted to "learn to help yourself learn."
static version posted on blog - may have comments
I read the book Mind Hacks cover-to-cover to get ideas for things to fill my "toolbox" and decided that my first action would be to cut the cruft in what I say and write - a few things in particular are listed below.
- No ums or ahs. No usages of the word "like" other than in the context of indicating enjoyment of something.
- No conventional swear words. Cursing like a sailor is allowed iff it is done inventively. For instance, Shakespearean curses are kosher, as are sci-fi curses, mathematical insults, or colorful words from foreign languages. As soon as a curse becomes a habit, it must be discarded.
- No using phrases like "I think", "I guess", "I don't know", and so on as trailing sentence clauses to downplay statements actually believed to be fact. Instead, come out clean and actually state them upfront as things believed to be fact. In other words, if these clauses are spoken, they've got to be firmly said at the start of the sentence.
- No saying statements as questions? (This only applies to spoken language and is a common female speech trait).
- Find alternative ways of intensifying descriptions that do not involve the use of the words "really" or "very." For instance, instead of saying "very good," say "excellent." Instead of saying "really expensive," say "astronomically costly."
- Avoid using the words "but" and "however" (and other synonyms not listed here) if at all possible. Try to use "and" in the sentence instead; it's remarkable how this will flip the meaning of a phrase. This was inspired by the "Yes, And" rule in improvisational comedy.
- Minimize the usage of the first person personal pronouns ("I/me") - this not so much as a "cutting the cruft" exercise as it is an experiment in how well English takes to this type of usage, since many other languages imply/omit the pronoun when speaking of oneself.
- (This probably only applies to me, so I can't think of a way to state this without using personal pronouns.) Speak in a natural voice range. I have the habit of trying to pitch my voice to blend in with the voices of others speaking; since I hang out mostly with males on account of my profession (engineer), it means that I strain my vocal cords by speaking below what I think is my natural range.
Results: I had to do push-ups (my self-imposed penalty) quite a few times, and am still doing them on a fairly regular basis, mostly due to "ums." The most dramatic effect has been due to the moratorium on "but" and "however." I have slacked in terms of preventing "me" and "I" from coming out; it feels like it directly clashes with the English language, so I'm dropping that requirement for the next week, but will continue with the rest of the hack for at least the remainder of the month.
Mchua 06:32, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
It's pretty simple. This week, all my written notes must be in some form of shorthand. The lazy cheat in the beginning is coming up with personal abbreviations and adopting them; I already have some special notations for words and concepts I use often, so this isn't much of a stretch. Attempts so far are chronicled below.
- Dutton speedwords - tried it. Driving me insane. Not worth it. Gave up. I want something phonetic, for gosh sakes.
The computer corollary to this mind hack is to try implementing keyword expansion as much as possible on my laptop (running Ubuntu Gutsy, soon to run Ubunty Hardy - I already use quicktext for email and love it.
As part of the Mentat Wiki Month festivities, ThufirHawat has added some substantial new material to the wiki on using special software ti improve your intelligence. For examples, see Brain Training Games and Spaced Repetition. My goals for this week are as follows:
- Install Mnemosyne or other spaced repetition software plus some substantial, useful data set (possibly work-related) and start learning the latter.
- Train with the n-back software at http://cognitivefun.net/test/5
- Pull out my OLPC XO at odd moments and play gbrainy, which I have installed but haven't tried.