How to Study Any Subject

Some idiot on Quora counter-signaling one of my posts on ethnicity, by demanding sources. You know, I don’t put sources for a lot of things because it requires a second copy-paste, and google image search or text search will always find it. (and maybe subconsciously i like to bait these assholes.) As usual, it’s a diagram and quotes from Nature. Which is pretty much the top of the scientific stack. and… Fuck. Do people think I make this shit up? Fucking read something other than stupid shit….

You know how easy getting a grasp of anything is? You find a subject. You search wiki and read the articles and copy the references.

Now you search for those references. you read reviews of published papers that were published later, and you read reviews of books on amazon. You read the reviews of all related books suggested by amazon. You make a list of names, and terms, and key-phrases. You repeat this process until ‘I cant find anything that isn’t a duplicate of something someone else said’.

Once you’ve done that pick the best book, and read it’s table of contents. Try figure out which chapter makes the argument rather than prepares for it or explains it. Scan that chapter. then read it. Then if you think there is more to learn read more until there isn’t. Check the back of the book’s glossary and bibliography. Just scan them for things you either don’t know or sound interesting.

Pick another book. Do the same. Most of the time BOOKS CAN BE REDUCED TO A SET OF KEY PAPERS REFERENCED IN THE BIBLIOGRAPHY. If not, they can be reduced to a central thesis, and the rest of the book is just DEFENSE of it.

My opinion on research is not to put a lot of stock in any defense, but to put stock tin the competition of books and papers that compete with one another on the topic. So I recommend using the cheapness of the internet to survey a subject and then get into the books.

Most of the time I work by finding an author that has created a novel insight and then reading the papers in his bibliography. It may seem like a lot is published but the truth is very few books in any year are of substance at the level of group evolutionary strategy and politics.

Once you are ‘current’ with the state of knowledge you just literally follow the top blogs, and read the relatively few papers that have any meaning.

What you find is that all the discipilnes duplicate effort on what you would consider awfully obvious matters.

By contrast, what most people do is the other way around: try to find one book and they get ‘hooked by the authors frame.’ and then they’re anchored. Start with an overview of the ‘market for ideas’. This isn’t the middle ages. Nearly every book more than a year old is available for free somewhere somehow. In fact, we have just about everything worth reading already in our library in digital form.

(Rant off.)

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