Rationality: What's the point?

by Hazard 1 min read3rd Feb 201910 comments


This post is part of my Hazardous Guide To Rationality. I don't expect this to be new or exciting to frequent LW people, and I would super appreciate comments and feedback in light of intents for the sequence, as outlined in the above link.

A friend once articulated that he didn't like when things are taught, "Mr. Miygai style". A bunch of disconnected, unmotivated facts, exercises, and ideas are put before you, and it's only at the very end that it clicks and you see the hidden structure and purpose of everything you've learned.

Therefore, the very first post of this sequence is going to be a drive by of what I think some of the cool/useful/amazing things are that you can get out of The Way. I never would have become a close-up magician if I hadn't seen someone do incredible things that blew my mind.

Who Is This For?

As much as it pains me to say this, it might not really matter whether or not you follow The Way. It really depends on what you're trying to do. The guy who kicked of the contemporary rationality community, Eliezer Yudkowsky, notes that besides a natural draw based on personality, the biggest reason he's invested in rationality is because he really wants to make sure Friendly AI happens before Unfriendly AI, and turns out that's really hard.

[*add more*]

What's the Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow?

Things I claim you can get better at

  • Believing true things and not believing false things.
  • Arrive at true beliefs faster.
  • "Failing mysteriously" less often
  • Understanding how your own mind works.

Why some of the above things are awesome

  • If you have something to protect, (you really want to make certain things happen) better models, more true beliefs, update speed, and being confused by lies, all make you more likely to make the changes you want to see in the world.
  • If you get a kick out of more deeply grokking how the world around you works, a kick you will get.
  • A lot of interpersonal problems come from two gaps:
    • One between "How human minds work" and "How you think human minds work"
    • One between "Your beliefs, feelings, and emotions" and "Your self-model of your beliefs, feelings, and emotions"
    • Shorting those gap will result in less interpersonal problems.