Many people want to know how to live well. Part of living well is thinking well, because if one thinks the wrong thoughts it is hard to do the right things to get the best ends.
We think a lot about how to think well, and one of the first things we thought about was how to not think well. Bad ways of thinking repeat in ways we can see coming, because we have looked at how people think and know more now about that than we used to.
But even if we know how other people think bad thoughts, that is not enough. We need to both accept that we can have bad ways of thinking and figure out how to have good ways of thinking instead.
The first is very hard on the heart, but is why we call this place "Less Wrong." If we had called it something like more right, it could have been about how we're more right than other people instead of more right than our past selves.
The second is very hard on the head. It is not just enough to study the bad ways of thinking and turn them around. There are many ways to be wrong, but only a few ways to be right. If you turn left all the way around, it will point right, but we want it to point up.
The heart of our approach has a few parts:
- We are okay with not knowing. Only once we know we don't know can we look.
- We are okay with having been wrong. If we have wrong thoughts, the only way to have right thoughts is to let the wrong ones go.
- We are quick to change our minds. We look at what is when we get the chance.
- We are okay with the truth. Instead of trying to force it to be what we thought it was, we let it be what it is.
- We talk with each other about the truth of everything. If one of us is wrong, we want the others to help them become less wrong.
- We look at the world. We look at both the time before now and the time after now, because many ideas are only true if they agree with the time after now, and we can make changes to check those ideas.
- We like when ideas are as simple as possible.
- We make plans around being wrong. We look into the dark and ask what the world would look like if we were wrong, instead of just what the world would look like if we were right.
- We understand that as we become less wrong, we see more things wrong. We try to fix all the wrong things, because as soon as we accept that something will always be wrong we can not move past that thing.
- We try to be as close to the truth as possible.
- We study as many things as we can. There is only one world, and to look at a part tells you a little about all the other parts.
- We have a reason to do what we do. We do these things only because they help us, not because they are their own reason.