Robert Tamayo


Being Smart Means Nothing if You Are Not Dumb Enough to Do Something About It

Analysis Paralysis is what happens to smart people. With increased intellect comes the ability to think about a problem from many different angles, finding the perfect solution. And if you're smart enough, you will be able to think about it much more deeply, iterating over a wider range of ideas within a shorter amount of time. This means you will find errors with your initial solutions, and be able to make corrections to them or change your solution altogether before committing an error. This is a good thing, right?

Analyzing a problem will not solve it; doing something will.

A multiple choice question is the simplest form of problem. The answer is in front of you, and you just need to find the correct one. There are plenty of tricks for solving multiple choice problems, but here's point: the only thing you have to actually do to solve a multiple choice question is select the correct answer. 

On one multiple choice test in high school, I selected all C's, since the lowest test score was going to be dropped and I wanted to see how many answers were C's. A friend chose all B's. I didn't win. But apart from that one occasion, during every multiple choice test I took I spent a hundred times more time reading the question and thinking about it than answering it.

Reading the question always took longer than circling or clicking on the answer.

The point is that the planning to action ratio is always something like 100:1. A mouse click on a test question takes milliseconds. Reading a sentence takes a second or two. Longer questions, longer. The more complicated a problem is, then the more time you would spend thinking about it, and the ratio would go even higher.

If you were ever stuck on a multiple choice question, you would select a random answer and move on to the next question.

You do this because you realize spending time thinking about a problem is not worth it when you can just take action and solve the next problem. The actual test is sort of like a game. There are 30 questions, and you need 70% to pass. That means you need at least 21 questions correct, leaving room for missing 9 questions before failing. Even if you fail one test, there are others. So you quickly realize you can afford to take a 25% chance on one question.

Essay questions are the opposite of multiple choice questions. You have to read a short prompt and then write a multiple-page essay. Because of the time limit, you don't spend much time getting started writing. You just write, come up with a thesis quickly, and go from there. Compare that process to the assigned written essay, during which you have weeks to do research, create drafts, revise, and perfect it. Of course the home-written essays have the potential to be much better than the essay questions, but again, the point is that the essay questions drive us to create first and ask questions later.

Analysis Paralysis is what happens when we treat the essay question as a research paper.

It's what happens when we don't choose a random answer and move on from the multiple choice question, and instead waste all of our time on solving for the correct answer.

So, back to the beginning: being smart is a good thing, right? Because we can think about problems for longer and find the correct solution? Of course not. In the end, taking action is all that counts. No one cares how smart you are. No one cares how many solutions you came up with before finding the perfect one. No one cares how much research you did. They care about the result.

This is a problem in science, as many researchers fudge their experiments to make it look like something had been achieved. This is done presumably to justify their funding; no one wants to pay for a half decade of scientific research that yields no results.

Being smart means nothing if you aren't stupid enough to do anything about it. I was so stupid that I just believed I could learn to make a video game as I made one. I didn't stop to think about what the game would be about. I didn't come up with the perfect idea first. I didn't think about where I would get the assets from. I didn't think about launching it. I was stupid enough to just start making it. And because of that, I finished it.

I never learned how to code. I just started making video games.

I literally learned code for the sole purpose of making my first game, Bad Blaster. And I learned while I was making it.

I never learned how to make electronic music. I just started making it. I learned electronic music production while making music for my first game, Bad Blaster.

And now, I never learned how to make 3D meshes and create 3D animations. But after a week, I took my character from the 2D game Bad Blaster and turned him into a 3D mesh. 


Perfect? No. Problems? Yes. But a week after first downloading Blender, my first ever 3D mesh was looking pretty good. I was stupid enough to just start making it.

And I'm stupid enough to keep going.
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