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How to make more people interested in rationality?

by mukashi1 min read11th Jul 20215 comments


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I think that there is a general consensus that we would probably live in a better world if we raised the sanity waterline. However, most people interested in rationality, biases, Bayesian theory, decision theory, etc are people who have already a natural inclination towards these topics. I feel I have benefited enormously by reading LW, the Sequences, listening to Julia Galef's podcast etc, but I was already interested in rationality before knowing about them. What initiatives have more potential to make rationality more popular among people without this natural inclination?

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Julia Galef's work is about getting more people interested in rationality. The Scout mindset is an aesthetic that can get more people interested in rationality. It also can be applied by people who don't have the IQ to follow extremely complicated arguments. 

The idea that it's necessary to make more people interested in rationality is however flawed. If we would do a better job with the people in our community that are actually interested in rationality and our community would become a resource for cognitive elites that want to find important knowledge that would have a massive impact without needing to convince everyone in the world to be interested in rationality.

It's better for the rationality community to focus on it's internals then to focus on evangelizing. Getting our own house in order is more important then evangelizing.

I agree with the general idea that actually being awesome makes evangelizing easier, and not being awesome makes the whole awesomeness-promising project suspicious.

But there are also benefits from cooperation, or from social pressure aligned with your goals. To get these benefits, you need to have similarly-minded people around you. There are places with enough rationalists to start awesome group projects; but there are also places without them. Groups can be more productive than individuals, because of division of labor, getting sidekicks, etc.

2ChristianKl2moI don't think that the main problem when it comes to start new groups is about evangelizing. Making it more easy to run a high quality meetup seems to me to me more important then evangelizing with the idea of changing people into rationalists. If more high quality articles get written on LessWrong those articles inherently spread. It does needs some inherent openness to new information and ways to inform yourself about the world to find high quality articles in your stream of information. The kind of people who initially came to LessWrong were people who have that kind of openess to information that they can be reached that way. If you put real effort into evangelizing you get Eternal September problems.

What do you mean by "reach out to people"? Usually that just means contact them. But here you seem to mean something different.

You are right, I will clarify the question. Thank you!