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Loserthink by Scott Adams

Read more on Amazon.

Rating: 7 / 10

Thoughts

A bit too political for my tastes, but a lot of it was incredibly interesting.


Chapter 1: What is Loserthink?

  • Having multiple mental models help you think more 'productively'.
  • "Loserthink isn't about being dumb, and it isn't about being underinformed. Loserthink is about unproductive ways of thinking."

Chapter 2: Political Warming

Mostly skipped this chapter.

Chapter 3: Thinking Like a Psychologist

  • We think that we can read other people's minds. We can't.
  • "If you're dismissing your critics with labels they would not assign to themselves, you might be engaged in loserthink."
  • "In science, the simplest explanation that fits the facts is preferred. In life, we are all under the illusions that our explanations of things are the simplest ones.".
  • If you're not a psychologist, you're probably not able to detect projection.
  • There's two ways of looking at ego.

    • As a tool: you can dial it up or down depending on the situation. High ego = confidence, which can help. But not too much. And remember to be humble. Regular exercise and basic things like eye contact, smiling, and giving confident handshakes goes a long way
    • List of tips:
    • Sometimes it's also good to dial down your ego. Realize that you can be wrong.
  • "Effectiveness is more important than ego."
  • Don't be afraid of things like public speaking.

    • "Put yourself in potentially embarrassing situations on a regular basis for practice. If you get embarrassed as planned, watch how one year later your are still alive. maybe you even have a funny story because of it."
    • "Note how other people's embarrassments mean little to you when you are an observer. That's how much your embarrassments mean to them: nothing".
  • If you practice controlling your ego, you'll learn to control it over time. Gains accumulate over time.
  • There's always something good in a situation; even if you can't see it.
  • The things that you put into your head are the code that programs your mind and body. Listen to sad songs and become sad. Don't let your head fill up with negative stuff.

Chapter 4: Thinking Like an Artist

  • "If you can't imagine any other explanation for a set of facts, it might be because you are bad at imagining things".

    • Maybe there's things that you haven't thought of.

Chapter 5: Thinking Like an Historian

  • Whoever is in charge gets to write history in any way you like. Most often, it's filtered through politics etc.
  • "History (even the fake kind) can be useful for persuading others through guilt. But don't make the mistake of persuading yourself that history should matter to your choices today".
  • When you extend "history repeats" to a situation, you're on shaky ground. Yes, people are selfish, violent etc. But that's too general — and yes, they'll most likely be so again.

    • "History doesn't repeat, at least not in any way you can use to accurately predict the future. (The exceptions are simple situations.)"

Chapter 6: Thinking Like an Engineer

  • The best solutions can be independent of how we feel about the cause of the problem. We often think about who started a problem, which is just a way to assign responsibility. The solution is often unrelated to that.
  • "The thing that engineers know, and the general public often ignores, is that it is common for more than one variable to be important at the same time". If you think that, in a complicated solution with multiple variables, that one variable was decisive — that's most likely loserthink.

Chapter 7: Thinking Like a Leader

  • "Persuasion is at least half of what a leader does all day"
  • "Truth has two important dimensions: 1) accuracy, and 2) direction."

    • The most important one is direction. If you set a goal of doing 20 push ups, but only do 19 — you technically didn't reach your goal. But directionally, you did all right
  • Don't confuse hyperbole (exaggeration) — don't take it literally.
  • Systems > goals.

    • "A goal gives you one way to win, whereas a system can surface lots of winning paths, some of which you never could have imagined"

Chapter 8: Thinking Like a Scientist

  • "If you think you opinion on a topic is correct because of coincidences that can't be explained any other way, it might help you to know that confirmation bias looks exactly like that"
  • Coincidences does not mean anything. But we're wired to give meaning to them. And when we do, we're often engaged in loserthink.

    • The more you care about a topic, the more likely this is.
  • "Always ask yourself if the opposite of your theory could be true. Doing so keeps you humble and less susceptible to bias until you get to the truth of the situation"
  • Don't judge a group by its worst members.
  • "Rarely is it possible to prove something isn't true. But sometimes we can prove things are true"

Chapter 9: Thinking Like an Entrepreneur

  • The secret to getting off the couch is to break down the things you need to do into the smallest step that you can do without much effort. Then you just go and do that. This could literally be standing up.

    • Often, our goals are enormous. But we can break them down into manageable chunks.
    • "Loserthink involves imagining the entire task ahead and letting it stun you into inaction"
  • Don't 'stay in your lane'. It's good to leave it as often as you can — without inviting major risk — to pick up skills that will complement your talent stack.

    • The more skills = the more valueable you'll be. But you don't know where it'll take you.
  • "Successful people, and people who will someday be successful, seem to believe they can steer their fate by their actions. Whether they are right about that or not, it's a winning mindset. People who think they control their situations will put more effort into doing so"
  • Take full responsibility for your outcomes.
  • "The simplest way to learn how to think like a rich person is to start reading books on the topic."

    • Scott recommends these authors: Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, James Altucher, Seth Godin, and Mike Cernovich.
    • "You can learn to think like a rich person by consuming books, blog posts, and podcasts from the authors who can teach you how. If this sort of reading isn't your thing, make it your thing, one microstep at a time"
  • "You might be tempted to think successful companies all have smart founders who see the world clearly, and that skil set is what helps them succeed. But the reality is that entrepreneurs are making educated guesses and talking themselves into a degree of certainty that the facts do not support."
  • "Find a way to test your assumptions in a small way so no one gets hurt"

    • "Don't have too much confidence in your own rightness and ability to divine the future." — but you can also wait too long to develop confidence in your worldview before acting.

Chapter 10: Thinking Like an Economist

  • It's a good idea to understand basic economics.

    • People who do can more easily spot hoaxes because money drives human behavior in predictable ways.
  • "Be skeptical of any experts who have a financial incentive to mislead you and almost no risk on their end"
  • "If you think in terms of "the ends justifying the means" instead of "costs compared to benefits" you are buying into loserthink"
  • "If you have a strong opinion about a proposed plan but you have not compared it to the next best alternative, you are not part of a rational conversation."
  • "If you opinion considers only the benefit or only the costs of a plan, you might be in a mental prison"
  • "A dollar you have today is worth a dollar. But a dollar you might get in the future, if things go as predicted (which is rare), is worth a lot less"
  • Confusolopy: an industry in which price competition is eliminated by making products and services so confusing that customers can't tell what they are getting for their money.
  • "If you find yourself experiencing certainty in a complex situation, you are probably experiencing loserthink"
  • "A terrible way to predict the future is to assume things will keep going the way they have been going"

    • "In general, when you see a lot of energy in a particular area, spread across multiple companies, the technology or industry is likely to stay around even if the players change."

Chapter 11: Thinks Pundits Say That You Should Not Copy

  • Don't compare someone's cancer to your pimples.
  • If your discussion consists of defining words, it's probably loserthink.
  • Don't just call something 'problematic' — say why.
  • "If you make a mistake and your best response is that other people do similar things, you are engaging in loserthink"

    • Admit that you are wrong, put in in context, and explain what you plan to do to fix it. Then you're free.
  • People won't agree what 'fair' is — don't argue about it.
  • "To predict the future, look for causation, not patterns"
  • "If you find that your best argument depends on the predictive or persuasive characteristics of analogies, you are likely in a mental prison of your own making."
  • "Adding friction to any human choice will reduce the number of people making that choice"
  • 'Be yourself' is often bad advice. You can do better — you can be better.
  • If someone risks their life for a cause, they aren't cowards.
  • If your response to a disagreement is to assign your opponent a dismissive label, that's loserthink.

Chapter 12: The Golden Age Filter

Didn't take notes here.

Chapter 13: How to Break Out of Your Mental Prison

  • Don't let the opinions of unsuccessful people hold you back.
  • "If you don't know the right way to do something, try doing it wrong, so long as it is not dangerous to do so. Doing things wrong is an excellent way to figure out how to do things right"

    • "Loserthink involves waiting until you know how to do something right before you do anything at all. That strategy makes sense only when it is physically or financially dangerous to make a mistake. For most ambitions in life, we can jump in, make some mistakes, and figure it out from there. If you get embarrassed in the process, good for you! It means you just learned that embarrassment doesn't kill you."
    • "If you can't figure out how to do a task the right way, do it the wrong way and watch how quickly you get free advice"
  • This should be your list of priorities, in order: (obvious exceptions apply)

    1. You
    2. Family
    3. Friends
    4. Employer
    5. Town/city
    6. Country
    7. World
  • Be selfish when it comes to your health, fitness, diet, and education.
  • "Your first priority should be you. If you don't take care of yourself first, your won't be much use to anyone else. But hurry up — the world has lots of problems and maybe you can help"
  • It's dangerous to blindly follow the advice of experts.
  • Learn that people are not rational. We don't often change our beliefs when presented with new factual information that contradicts them.
  • Put yourself in embarrassing situations regularly.

    • It doesn't mean anything to anyone else. People don't care.
  • To think more effectively, improve your fitness, diet, and sleeping.
  • Judge people by how they respond to their mistakes — not by their mistakes.
  • "You are what you do, not what you think"

Chapter 14: How to Break Others Out of Their Mental Prisons

  • "Agree with people as much as you can without lying, and you will be in a better position to persuade"

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