To think complex thoughts, you must write

The brain alone is eager to make us feel good, eager to skip over inconsistencies.

By fixing arguments on paper, we can look at them with distance. If we occupy mental resources just keeping the argument in our head, we're happy we can follow its logic from beginning to end, but we're busying the very mental resources needed to properly analyze it, judge it, realize implications, or go on creative tangents that end up revealing a flaw.

Rely on internal reasoning? Poor idea. There are several reasons the unchecked brain sucks at knowledge work:

  • makes things look as if they fit even if they don't
  • connects unrelated episodes into convincing narratives (faces in clouds)
  • availability heuristic/Zeigarnik effect ([2023-02-07 Tue]: what? re-check Ahrens)
  • edits memories every time we recall them

Kahneman 2013: "The brain is a machine for jumping to conclusions." The WRONG machine for most knowledge work. Outsource what it's bad at. Many fields of science (psychology, neuroscience, …) have found the same conclusion: the brain needs external scaffolding of some kind in order to think.

Division of labor:


  • Details
  • References
  • Unaltered long-term memory


  • Get the gists, bigger pictures, deeper understanding
  • Freedom to be creative

What links here

Created (2 years ago)