Whispers have been going around on the internet. People have been talking, using words like "defunct" or "inactive" (not yet "dead").
The last update to the website was December 2020 (the copyright on the website states "© Copyright 2011-2021 Center for Applied Rationality. All rights reserved."), the last large-scale public communication was end of 2019 (that I know of).
If CFAR is now "defunct", it might be useful for the rest of the world to know about that, because the problem of making humans and groups more rational hasn't disappeared, and some people might want to pick up the challenge (and perhaps talk to people who were involved in it to rescue some of the conclusions and insights).
Additionally, it would be interesting to hear why the endeavour was abandoned in the end, to avoid going on wild goose-chases oneself (or, in the very boring case, to discover that they ran out of funding (though that appears unlikely to me)).
If CFAR isn't "defunct", I can see a few possibilities:
- It's working on some super-secret projects, perhaps in conjunction with MIRI (which sounds reasonable enough, but there's still value left on the table with distributing rationality training and raising the civilizational sanity)
- They are going about their regular business, but the social network they operate in is large enough that they don't need to advertise on their website (I think this is unlikely, it contradicts most of the evidence in the comments linked above)
So, what is going on?
You refer to "the same problem that something like every self-help / hippy / human potential movement since the 60s has run into", but then don't say what that problem is (beyond gesturing to a "4-hour-long propaganda film").
I can think of a number of possible problems that all such movements might have run into (or might credibly be thought to have run into) but it's not obvious to me which of them, if any, you're referring to.
Could you either clarify or be explicit that you intended not to say explicitly what you meant? Thanks!
[EDITED to fix a misquotation that made it look like Anna wrote something ungrammatical; sorry]
Sorry. I don't have a good short description of the problem, and so did not try to say explicitly what I meant. Instead I tried to refer to a 4-hour film, "Century of the self," as trying to describe the same problem.
I may come back later with an attempted description, probably not a good one.
Thanks. I am, realistically, not going to watch four hours of propaganda (assuming your description of it is accurate!) in the hope of figuring out what you meant, so in the hope that you will come back and have at least a sketchy try at it I'll list my leading hypotheses so you have something concrete to point at and say "no, not that" about.
Seconding gjm's reply, and wondering what can possibly be so difficult to talk about that even a 4-hour film can only be an introduction? I watched a few 20-second snippets scattered over its whole length (since this is an Adam Curtis film, that is all that is needed), and I am sceptical that the line that he draws through a century of history corresponds to a load-bearing rope in reality.