A goal post

To what extent is setting ambitious, distant goals a good idea? Should they be used? And if so, how?

We are problem solvers and so we can't do without goals. Whenever we try to solve a problem, we automatically have the goal of solving that problem.

But what about setting personal goals for the medium to long-term future? 

One argument against committing steadfastly to distant goals is that doing so involves determining in advance how you'll spend your time in the future. This is a problem because your future selves may well have different ideas about how to spend their time. And if these ideas are in conflict with your goal, then forcing yourself to pursue the goal anyway will hurt and could prevent you from noticing better ideas. Moreover, having reached your goal in this way, you may well discover that it doesn't give you anything like the satisfaction you'd expected. That's a long time to wait to realise you made a mistake.

I think these are good criticisms of a pretty common approach to goals. But they don't imply that we should completely do away with long-term goal-setting in our personal lives. After all, it's perfectly possible to be someone who sets long-term goals and who is careful not to develop tunnel vision when it comes to pursuing them. This is just the critical attitude applied to goals.

But on top of adopting a critical attitude, I think a more specific way to improve goal-setting is to only set goals whose realisation is within your control. For example, let's say you're a young person who wants to become a film actor. Rather than having the goal of becoming an Oscar-winning actor—the realisation of which would involve countless factors outside of your control—it makes more sense to work towards the goal of, say, becoming the best actor you can be. That is within your control (and to the extent that it's the best actors who win Oscars, then hey, becoming the best actor you can be may even improve your chances of becoming an Oscar-winner).

Questions regarding the jump to creativity

Been thinking about the jump to creativity.

The idea that there was an instantaneous leap to universality has had me scratching my head since I first encountered it.

At some point, it seems there must have been a child who was born a person despite having non-person parents. The first person. A universal explainer who was the child of two non-explainers.

Creativity is an all-or-nothing capacity. It’s not a matter of degree. Full-blown, or not at all. So what changes were happening in the skulls of our ancestors that led to its evolution? What was the human suite of mental capacities just before that final, pivotal mutation? And what benefits did the earliest people’s creativity confer that give them a differential survival advantage? 

I can’t see how David Deutsch’s theory that creativity’s initial advantage lay in improving one’s ability to enact static culture memes more faithfully can possibly apply to the first few creative people.

Was the first-ever person the patient-zero of consciousness? Was this the first person to make choices? Were they even really a person, or did they just have the capacity to be one? Is creativity not enough? That is, would they have had to acquire — or create — some knowledge with their new creative capacity to become a person?

How would they have known how to use their creativity? Would they have found it more difficult to learn what their parents and cousins were able to learn instinctively and unconsciously? Were they just automatically conjecturing and criticising to learn? Or were they using both creativity and the meme-acquisition mechanisms that their parents and cousins and ancestors had evolved to operate?

Violence as a marketing strategy

One of the nastiest problems faced by our culture is that mass-murder is an effective marketing strategy.

If all you want is a cheap way to get famous quick, do some evil shit. That seems to be the formula.

Violent spectacles draw instant attention to the perpetrators’ ideology — their ‘product’.

That said, attention is bad for criminal enterprises. Sure, it’s one way to achieve mass-recruitment. Fortunately, for every advocate, there are a hundred opponents.