Life Advice

Note: There’s more that I should add to this page, but it takes time to write stuff.

1. Introducing The Extended Anthropic Principle

The Anthropic Principle or “observation selection effect” is a way to explain the nature of the universe, given that intelligent life exists to observe it and that the conditions necessary for creating such intelligent life have already been fulfilled. But when I use the term Anthropic Principle, I use it to mean a much more general and non-standard sense beyond what it was originally used to explain, sometimes called the Extended Anthropic Principle. The idea here is that when we observe phenomena that has some specific condition, we can reason that that the phenomena managed to accomplish that condition by having characteristics that made it/them more likely to accomplish the condition.

But that’s inevitable, due to the Anthropic Principle. Looking backward, it will always seem like history is on our side. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here to look backward. Looking forward, however, nature/history is not on our side. We have to be clever or lucky to be winners in the next round.

2. Settings Goals For Life Using The Anthropic Principle

Many of the things that we do in life contribute to a numbers and statistics game. The best way to demonstrate this line of thinking is with examples:

  • If you want to become a genius, then you need to spend your time doing things that a genius would do, and do those activities everyday. Examples:
    • Having the productivity of a genius: A workflow and daily/weekly schedule for managing their tasks everyday. Perhaps using Emacs.
    • Going to college and achieving the highest grades in your class.
    • Having a strong motivation to do research.
    • Knowing how to solve problems that have never been solved before.
  • If you want to become an Olympic athlete, then you need to train like an Olympic athlete (as well as have the body of an Olympic athlete, which is definitely out of range for most people in sports like gymnastics, swimming, running, etc). Or said another way: If you want to become an Olympic athlete, then you need to examine the characteristics of Olympic athletes, and strive to acquire those characteristics, assuming that you have the Agency to do so.
  • If you want to avoid getting into a car accident, then you need to do things that will decrease the likelihood that you will get into a car accident, like avoiding driving on the most dangerous roads when possible, avoiding driving during the riskier hours of the week, driving a car that will reduce the likelihood that you will get into an accident, never driving a car without knowing how it works and/or reading the manual beforehand, etc.
  • If you want to live as long as possible, then you have to adopt health habits that will help you live longer. Although living a long life is strongly linked to genetics, the key is to examine how the people who live the longest lives live on a day-to-day basis, and to live that way, or at least adopt similar habits that will help one live longer. The longest living people in the world tend not to smoke, they tend to be agricultural farmers, they follow religious memetics, they exercise daily, they eat healthy, etc, so you should do all of those things too if you want to live as long as they do.
  • If you want to become the richest person in the world, then you need to make money and save money like the richest person in the world. That means saving, making good value investments, and running a huge corporation comparable in size to Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc to have a massive passive income.
  • The people who have personalities similar to mass shooters, and who do things that a mass shooter would do, are more likely to become mass shooters.
  • The best computer programmers / scientists are the ones who spend their time like computer programmers and scientists.
  • The people who obtain power are the ones who do actions that acquire power, especially with this advice.
  • If you want to get a girlfriend or a boyfriend, then you need to go to places and do activities where the person you’re looking for is likely to be.


  • Some people are smarter than others.
  • Some people work harder than others.
  • Some people are more prosperous than others.

If you want to be at the top of your game, then you have to work like you’re at the top.

3. Applications Of The Free Market

The principles of the free market can be applied to:

  • Business
  • Economics
  • Dating
  • Mating
  • Biology
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Marketplace of Ideas
  • Etc

4. The Normal Curve Principle

I haven’t finalized a name for this idea, but for now I call it the “the normal curve of resources”.

Often times, we can think of about abilities as being a position on a bell curve relative to everybody else, in which case, a high position on the bell curve is simply the result of several small improvements summed together.

  • When given a large number of resources to choose from, it is likely that some of those things will likely be better than the others in potentially several different ways (kind of obvious, but I expand on this).
  • I’ve noticed that when some people want to learn something, they often fall into the mistake of seeing a random resource for learning something and they pick it off the shelf and learn from that. Maybe it costed more than other alternatives, wasn’t as comprehensive, and/or it simply didn’t teach the material very well.
  • The problem with this is that it fails to consider the free market law that I have described. If there are many different choices, reason must be used to pick the best one.
    • There are millions and millions of books out there. If I pick a random book off the shelf to read, how will I know that it is the one of the best ones that I could have read? Unfortunately, many people have read a book that they didn’t like or thought wasn’t as informative.
      • If there are millions of books out there, then why not read only from the top 1% of the book that there are out (assuming that there was a ranking system for the best books available)? Why do people still read mediocre books if there are always better ones to choose from?
    • There are many movies out there too. Many people have watched movies that they didn’t like, but why does this happen if there are so many other better / good movies to choose from?
  • I’m still trying to figure out how to best illustrate what I am thinking about. It might take a while…

There is a lot of great advice out there, but there is also a lot of bullshit too.

  • A rational person must figure out which advice is helpful and which advice is irrational.
  • Not all learning resources are created equally, so some of them will be better than others. A rational person would strive to get the best one and learn from that one.
  • Some products sold on the market will be better than others (for your needs since value is subjective)
  • Some software will be better than others.
  • In just about every scenario where there is a free market available (many options to choose from), some will be better than others.
  • As per the learning materials quality principle, are there any geniuses out there that have made any meaningful progress in philosophy?

You could remove someone from a position, but if you do, then the next best person for the job will take that position instead. For example, if Richard Spencer didn’t lead the Alt-Right, some other charismatic Alt-Righter would’ve taken the lead instead, and perhaps they would’ve been about as good, worse, or even better. The same can be said for most political elections, most positions within a powerful company, etc. There usually isn’t a single person who is qualified for a position, but rather a group of people to choose from. Determination and luck are both factors in who ultimately acquires the position.

There is also the concept of competitive advantage. Sometimes, making friends with a successful person is almost as good as being successful yourself.

The less knowledge you know, the more you will gain from learning. For example, learning how to read is a much bigger leap in acquiring knowledge than say learning organic chemistry.

Likewise, it was easier to make a lot of progress on achieving the conditions of modernity when the conditions were largely unmet, like how more progress was made from 1919-1969 compared to 1970-2020.

See: What “Follow Your Dreams” Misses | Harvey Mudd Commencement Speech 2024
In this video, Grant Sanderson gives a lot of brilliant, practical advice. I figured out a lot of it from personal experience and thinking during my teens and early 20s, but it was incredible to see someone say it all at once so fluidly in a video. It’s honestly probably the best advice I’ve ever heard from every commencement speech that I’ve ever heard.

Lottery Winners Survivorship Bias Comic
Figure 1: Lottery Winners Survivorship Bias Comic

5. Situations Where It Is Best To Assume The Worst Case Scenario

In many cases, it’s better to be safe than sorry:

  • Security - Guarding against the worst security threats and minimizing all security threats will yield the most secure system.
  • Professional Matters - Tell people the worst-case scenario so that if the worst does happen they won’t be mad. And if better happens, they will be pleasantly surprised.
  • Germs - Assume that stuff that you found or germs that you encounter will have germs on it.
  • Driving - The best driving practices are defensive driving. Defensive driving causes less accidents.
  • Economics & Personal Finance - Always keep a life-savings, always have a plan B, diversify your assets.
  • Parenting - Assuming the worst will prepare a parent for any scenario.
  • Algorithms - Assume the worst case scenario, even though average or best scenarios are more likely.
  • Test Taking - Assuming the worst will prepare someone for the best questions.

6. The Best Way To Do Something / Do Your Research

When there are multiple options to pick from, then you shouldn’t just pick whatever is the first to fall into your hands (as many people do). You should do a little bit of research to figure out if there’s a better option to choose from, because a little bit of research can go a long way.

What is the best way to search for something that you need?

  • When looking for something to buy, it is best to know what you want before you buy it. And if you don’t know, then you use reason to decide what you need.
  • Companies and advertisements will usually paint their products in the best light possible, so these might be misleading sources of information.
  • Consulting testimonies is definitely worthwhile.
    • If comparing multiple products, then a side-by-side review table would be best (e.g. bestreviews.com)
  • Don’t forget that the normal curve principle applies here.

Important: Before I learned that I should always research the best way to do something before doing anything, I only ever did my research first when I knew that there were many different options to choose from and wasn’t sure which one would be the best (e.g. choosing a laptop / car / computer to purchase).

  • Although it is obvious that it is always best to research before doing something, this usually isn’t what most people do. Most people often pick the first option that they see since they are uneducated and unaware that there are better alternatives. It stands to reason, that this is in fact a CTS.
  • Important: Understanding this skill is critical to preventing market-failures centered around a lack of information. This CTS enables us to make better use of our resources.
  • Understanding this skill is one of the reasons why I am so unique. Many of the things that I am passionate about are due to the fact that I figured out the best way to do something, and then I committed to doing it right and doing it well.
  • For religious and political doctrines, people often have no choice and get hopelessly indoctrinated into believing ridiculous irrational ideas.
  • Indoctrination is more dangerous at the youngest ages. Young children are taught irrational ideas by their parents, education, and the society around them. And then when their brains finally reach the age where they are sufficiently developed enough to think for themselves, it is too late because they’re too indoctrinated to think otherwise.
  • Once again, these people would greatly benefit if they first asked “What is the best religion / political system / etc?” before getting deeply involved and fanatically biased about what they believe.
  • This idea also holds true for advertisements. The probability that advertisements would offer people the best information there is to know on a product or service is very low.

Conclusion: The moral here is to always do research first. A couple of hours of research can go a very long way.

If it weren’t for researching, I would not have found superior alternatives, like Bitwarden, Wiktionary, and many other examples that too specific to name very well.

Interestingly, the products that are advertised the most, tend to be the ones that cost the most money whereas the free products that don’t cost any money are not well advertised at all and have to be found by searching deep for them. This is because the companies aiming to make a profit have to heavily advertise their products in order to make their bottom-line whereas the free resources don’t have the money to advertise.

  • Thus, people pay money for expensive resources since they are what catch their eyes first even though they could have found better, cheaper resources with more research and sound reasoning.
  • Bitwarden, MyLanguages.org, Khan Academy, etc.

6.1. Taking Advice From Others

Although research is important, it’s still often necessary to take advice from others, especially if you don’t know where to start.

For example, when learning a new language, if you don’t speak the language you don’t even know how to ask the question you want to ask, or how to interpret the answers you receive. In which case, recommendations from other people are necessary for figuring out where to start learning something.

Some skills have to be taught in person too, like social skills or learning how to drive.

If 10% of people know something, and 10% of people can teach something, and 10% of people are your friends. None of those things are rare, but the intersection of all those things is 1 in 1,000.

See: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me - Sam Altman.

6.2. Forming A Rational Understanding Of Reality

7. Ensuring Proper Physical Development And Ergonomics

One of the main negative consequences of modernity has been how new technologies and lifestyles are preventing the human body from shaping or functioning in its normal form, including the hands, feet, mouth, and other body parts. This section is meant to briefly introduce some sources that address these issues with solutions.

  • The Colemak Keyboard Layout: Colemak is a keyboard layout that enables people to type faster and more comfortably than Qwerty or Dvorak. Typing with Colemak will reduce the risk of repetitive stress injury and carpal tunnel in the hands. The best way to switch to Colemak is to use the Tarmak layouts.
  • Ergonomic Shoes: Most modern shoes cram the toes of our feet into pointy toe boxes. This ruins the natural shape of our feet, it atrophies the muscles for moving our toes sideways, and it negatively affects the muscles that we use to walk. Everybody realizes that foot-binding is bad, but we don’t realize that we’ve been micro-dosing it. This video concludes with mentioning companies that sell more ergonomic shoes.
  • Orthotropics: Orthotropics is a superior alternative to orthodontics because it directly addresses the causes of malocclusions and other craniofacial issues by promoting ideas like proper breathing techniques and proper tongue posture. Orthotropics thus doesn’t require surgeries, nor does it cause facial damage, unlike orthodontics. There’s also a proposed causal theory that orthodontics may increase the risk of facial acne by pushing the jaw inwards to the neck, thus preventing lymphatic drainage from the skin around the head, and thus causing acne. It may even increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and other mental disorders later in life by putting more pressure on the veins in the neck, thus causing blood to pool in the head, and thus increasing the risk of mental disease. The potential health risks of orthodontics are not well understood nor well known to the public.
  • The Unnecessity of Wisdom Teeth Removal Surgery: In most cases, it’s not necessary or practical to remove wisdom teeth. This blog post gives an overview about this, and links to sources that talk about this topic in more depth.
  • Reversing Axial Elongation Of The Eyeball: Staring at computer screens and doing near-work for so many hours a day can elongate one’s eyeballs over time, thus causing myopia. However, it’s possible that the elongation of the eyeballs can be reversed by residing in a natural environment where the eyes do not have to constantly stare close to a screen all the time. In other words, it’s possible that the elongation axis of eyeballs responds to homeostasis, and is thus reversible. This may reduce the need for eyeglasses and corrective lenses in society. Also see:
  • Avoiding Peyronnie’s Disease (For Males): Since people are either right-handed or left-handed, a male may be inclined to stroke his phallus at an angle when masturbating if he’s not careful. If this is done for long periods of time, it can cause the phallus to bend at an angle one way or another. Thus, a male should only ever stroke his phallus straight up and straight down.
Axial Elongation of the Eyeball
Figure 2: Axial Elongation of the Eyeball. One’s eyeballs are bound to become elongated after doing too much near-work for extended periods of time. This causes myopia and other eye diseases, but it may be reversible.

Lookism will probably never go away, so it’s important to take care of one’s appearance.

8. Learn To Make Your Own Success

Parents have the power to make many decisions that will have life-lasting effects on their children. Regardless, it is pointless to complain about your parents after you turn 20 and especially if you no longer live with them if you grew up with bad or mediocre parents. At best, it is a waste of time, and at worst it’s a self-sabotaging narrative because it makes you sound self-centered and unable to move on. Outwardly, people will sympathize, but they really don’t care about excuses. That’s just the way how society is. It doesn’t mean that your parents are perfect or that you cannot ever say that you don’t like them very much, but having a personal narrative where they’re responsible for some or all of your failings never gets you anywhere. What’s done is done.

It’s also not really clear what makes parents “good” or “bad” anyway. Even if they had done horrible shit to you, it would still be better to portray your life as if you had an internal locus of control where you managed to be (hugely) successful in spite of that. You have to make your own success and take responsibility for your own life going forward. If you are determined to work hard enough, you can be awesome regardless of how terrible your upbringing may have been and people will admire you for that.

As an example, I personally find Blithering Genius’s life story to be pretty inspirational. Despite having grown up poor and being homeless at 17, he worked his way through college and paid rent by doing blue collar jobs. Now he’s married with five kids, owns two houses, and lives a posh lifestyle while also being a revolutionary philosopher, biologist, sociologist, computer scientist, book author, and youtuber. It’s remarkable that he’s managed to accomplish so much in life, even more so since he had a terrible upbringing. However, his life story wouldn’t be as interesting if he grew up with a wealthy, privileged upbringing.

Chris MacAskil is another example of someone who had a rather rough childhood. His mother developed schizophrenia at 35 years old, he faced homelessness, juvenile detention, and failed college English multiple times. But eventually, he became fairly successful: he got a Master’s of Science in Geophysics, worked for Steve Jobs at NeXT, co-founded at least four different companies, had many children and grandchildren, and created a YouTube channel dedicated to talking about nutrition, Plant Chompers. The takeaway from these examples is that if you had a terrible upbringing and childhood, you can actually use that to your advantage to make your successes in life look more impressive compared to someone who had a better upbringing and accomplished the same things.

You can cast yourself as the victim and deny your own agency as a subject, but the habit of blaming society, circumstances, or other people for your own failures is a huge reason for failure. There is some truth to the idea that people have it too easy these days, whether they’re mentally disabled or not. Being forced to work construction or mop floors would be good for a lot of people. Except for some extreme cases, most people can learn to take care of themselves when they have to. At some point, you will be able to trust your own judgment more, even in the social realm.

I would still be vastly more successful if my parents didn’t sabotage me.

That’s a narrative about what could have been, not a fact. Many people succeed in life despite having bad parents, and many people fail despite having good parents. Some people even succeed because they had bad parents. It’s a common theme with the ultra successful to have had abusive, absent, or dead parents. And even if you did have an amazing upbringing and excellent parents in a better world, that may only cause people to envy you. Plus, if everyone had a better upbringing, many people would still find something to complain about regardless, because things can always be hypothetically much better than how they turned out.

There’s also an argument to be made that it could not have been otherwise. Your parents are you, in a sense. Whatever they did (or didn’t do) to you, you did to yourself from a deterministic perspective. If they were different people, you would be a different person. Beyond knowing that they need to provide for their children’s basic needs, most mediocre parents were never given a comprehensive instruction manual on how to raise their children.

Lastly, if you are ever going to talk about how your parents raised or treated you, then you should do so in a Wikipedia-style manner. That is, you should just state the facts clearly, but without ranting or describing your emotions. This way, you can inform people of how you were raised without sounding entitled, and they can make their own judgment. If they independently decide that your parents suck, then you will win them in your favor. In particular, you should also limit yourself to people who are likely to sympathize and possibly help you.

Last Modified: 2024 June 11, 01:32

Author: Zero Contradictions