Friday, August 04, 2023

The Importance Of Challenging Your Own Ideas

Nabeel S. Qureshi: "Notes on Puzzles":

It turns out comparing the thought process of less skilled vs. more skilled [chess] players gives you many useful insights! (I’d love to see this concept used for books in other disciplines.)

The lesson I found the most striking is this: there’s a direct correlation between how skilled you are as a chess player, and how much time you spend falsifying your ideas. The authors find that grandmasters spend longer falsifying their idea for a move than they do coming up with the move in the first place, whereas amateur players tend to identify a solution and then play it shortly after without trying their hardest to falsify it first. (Often amateurs, find reasons for playing the move -- ‘hope chess’.)

Call this the ‘falsification ratio’: the ratio of time you spend trying to falsify your idea to the time you took coming up with it in the first place. For grandmasters, this is 4:1 — they’ll spend 1 minute finding the right move, and another 4 minutes trying to falsify it, whereas for amateurs this is something like 0.5:1 — 1 minute finding the move, 30 seconds making a cursory effort to falsify it.

This is a really interesting finding!

(H/T: J.Z.)