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He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.

Abraham Lincoln

I imagine this page, as are many others, will be a mess for quite some time as I work ever so slowly to organize my thoughts.

I often wonder how many casual topics of today were once reserved for the minds of experts.

Modern elementary math was once thought impossible by the worlds greatest mathematicians. Ideas once inconceivable to the brightest minds in a field are now distilled and learned by young children.

IQ test revisions are standardized using a new sample of test-takers, usually born more recently than the first and the average result is set to 100. However, when the new test subjects take the older tests, in almost every case their average scores are significantly above 100. This substantial and long-sustained increase in intelligence is colloquially known as the Flynn effect.

James Flynn, whom the Flynn effect is names after, gave a Ted Talk titled “Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents’”.

Intuitively, I’ve always reasoned this out to be a result of distilling—the “mental artillery” as referenced by James Flynn.

Distilling the world

In Compress to impress by Eugene Wei, he explores the transmissibility of ideas as a function of rhetorical compression. It’s never been easier to send someone an image containing a

There are many rhetorical tricks that have stood the test of time, like alliteration or anadiplosis. Perhaps supreme among these rhetorical forms is verse, especially when it rhymes. Both the rhythm and the rhyme (alliteration intentional) allow humans to compress and recall a message with greater accuracy than prose.

Time spent coming up with the right words to package a key concept in a memorable way was time well spent.

Information density

Beyond the concrete world

Three skills have slowly crept throughout the culture:

  • Classification
  • Logic on abstractions
  • Taking the hypothetical seriously

Flowed gently through education, employment, and entertainment. Drip by drip til they became mores.

Code, logic, abstractions, exceptions.

We live in the bubble of the present.

Average scores for 13-year-olds in both reading and mathematics were lower in 2020 compared to the last LTT assessments in 2012

Yerkes Dodson

Sell yourself, sell your work

You’ve got to be very careful not to confuse yourself. Names don’t constitute knowledge. A name gives no real sense of what it is. You can’t take it apart, play with it, or use it to make new connections and generate new insights. Conversely, when you know something, the labels are unimportant, because it’s not necessary to keep it in the box it came in.