[…There was a] positive feedback loop that encouraged me to spend ever-increasing amounts of time on my work. Humans inherit convictions mimetically from each other — we learn what to value by imitating our peers. Maybe this is why we tend to want to conform to ingroup expectations in communities so much?
Dangers of groupthink as these feedback loops loop into themselves and repeat: collaborative-thinking
Among experimentalists, it’s not hard to find graduate students who can tell you every detail about how a particular machine operates, and almost nothing about why it should be built.
Speaking with authors through their written work triggers the same neural circuits that produce imitation of desire. By stocking a bookshelf judiciously, you can express a preference over preferences — “what should I value? What do I want to spend my waking hours thinking about?” — and act on it through careful, honest reading. This engineering is safe: most authors exert their influence slowly, over hundreds of pages, and if the effect turns out to be undesirable, you need only put the book down. It’s cheap and reliable — if you want to emulate someone, start by reading what they read. Most importantly, it’s powerful, because authors form a large part of the meta-peer group that determines which communities and games you engage with.