May 02, 2023

Regrettably, after starring at a screen 12 hours a day for months on end, my vision has gotten worse. I have astigmatism in my left eye that has miraculously blessed everyone I run into with a third eye!

I started wearing glasses while at work…and I feel dumber now? These are blue-light-blocking glasses but I’m pretty sure the orange tint is not what’s short-circuiting my brain. I’ve always had (approximately) 20/20 vision but wearing glasses enables a level of clarity I never known; certainly, some details are still left blurry. Glasses on, I find it harder to focus on the forest since now I can see each cusp and discontinuity of the trees which were previously mollified away. I don’t think I’m particularly predisposed to get lost in details either; I’m often satisfied understanding the average case, the mean-field behavior, with exception given to my few hobbies.

In pop culture, I feel like I typically associate the act of a character donning glasses as signalling that the character is now putting on their “thinking cap” and trying to figure something out. I do the opposite. Take off my glasses, perhaps close my eyes, and think. Are you more likely to trust the auto mechanic that quotes you at $1000 for the repair or the mechanic that tallies the things being done to your car and hwo it will cost exactly $1054.75? It’s easy to conflate precision with expertise. Rather, expertise is knowing when to be precise. I’ve written about a related question previously. Ben Kuhn also has a great post on the similar question of searching for outliers which is really really worth reading.


I find it interesting how some of my friends always listen to music (with lyrics!) while reading and how the others say they can’t read while listening to things. Consistent with my experience with glasses, I find that I think better when I’m listening to something; if I were able to shut off all of my sense, would I think the clearest I’ve ever thunk?

I used to listen to music as much as possible. The only time I didn’t was when I had to talk to someone in real life - to the people I would video call in high school, sorry, I was definitely listening to music while you spoke. At some point I read an article about how the dangers of overstimulus and went through a phase of not listening to much music. Accustomed to the ‘louder’ emotions of music I was no longer able to recognize subtle signals within myself which I chalked off to be noise. It can be harmful at times, but I believe it’s better to go into the data with an expectation of what you expect the signal to look like, and of course be quick to admit when you’re wrong.

It’s impossible to repeatedly without-fail extract signal from noise. We can go a long way in our own lives though, by only choosing to see only what you need to see, whether or not you want to. Be judicious with what you give your attention.