Recommended Reading

Science & Theory

Mathematics, computer science and artificial intelligence

More technical material

I believe that in technical fields, unless you are willing to accept a very superficial understanding, one should start out by taking university courses or reading textbooks. Most technical fields have a canon of core subjects that usually cover those topics that are most useful and most widely used throughout the disciplines. In pure mathematics, these seem to be (linear) algebra, calculus/analysis, combinatorics/discrete math, logic, geometry/topology, and number theory. In computer science, they might be combinatorics/discrete math, logic, theoretical computer science, practical computer science/algorithm design, technical computer science (hardware and operating systems), etc. Any of these subjects are ripe with amazing insights and so time spent on learning these areas is generally spent well, especially if you aspire to work in some technical discipline. Nevertheless, I am not going to recommend a textbook for many of these subjects. This is mostly because I usually do not know sufficiently many textbooks to add anything to the recommendations you can find elsewhere. Also, for many readers it’s probably better to take university courses, anyway. Still, here are a few recommendations where either the topic is underappreciated or I do feel qualified to recommend a text over its alternatives.

Decision theory

  • Martin Peterson: An Introduction to Decision Theory.
  • Arif Ahmed (2014): Evidence, Decision and Causality.

Evolution

  • Richard Dawkins (1976): The Selfish Gene.
  • Joseph Henrich (2015): The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter. (I didn’t find ch. 14-17 quite as interesting as the rest.)

How to do science

Human mind and society

Ethical Theory & Consciousness

Effective Altruism

The following two texts present introductions to effective altruism.

There are also some particular cause areas that people should read about. Much of this is essentially moral philosophy.

Rationality, Cognitive Biases & Personal Effectiveness

Note that while I do think that some “productivity hacks” etc. are better than others, what works for me often won’t work for you.

Biographies

I don’t recommend reading biographies all that much, because they don’t attempt to convey general-purpose transferable knowledge and are thus usually ineffective. However, some biographies do teach quite a lot. Also, many people (including myself) find biographies more fun to read. So, here are some of the most informative biographies I have read:

Other Interesting Resources On What to Read

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