Call for Volunteers: Rationalists with Non-Traditional Skills

by Jasen 9y28th Oct 201068 comments


SIAI's Fellows Program is looking for rationalists with skills.  More specifically, we're looking for rationalists with skills outside our usual cluster who are interested in donating their time by teaching those skills and communicating the mindsets that lead to their development.  If possible, we'd like to learn from specialists who "speak our language," or at least are practiced in resolving confusion and disagreement using reason and evidence.  Broadly, we're interested in developing practical intuitions, doing practical things, and developing awareness and culture around detail-intensive technical subskills of emotional self-awareness and social fluency.  More specifically:    

We're interested learning how to "make stuff" in order to force ourselves down to object level from time to time, practice executing plans in the real world and to refine our intuitions about material phenomena.  Examples:

  • Home Construction/repair contractor (We'll need to fix up the house we're trying to buy in Berkeley)
  • Auto-repair 

We're interested in learning skills that require one to pay very close attention to the detail of the physical world - how things actually are instead of what our mental representation says about them.  Examples:

  • Technical Drawing 
  • Stage Magic

We'd like to get better at working with people, both inside the institute and outside.  Examples:

  • Journalist
  • Science/engineering project manager

We want to become more aware and in control of our emotions.  Emotional self-awareness seems very important for productivity, social success and understanding our tendencies toward motivated cognition.  Aside from things that traditionally train emotional awareness like acting and meditation, we expect that certain formal systems of kinesthetic practice such as Iyengar yoga will also help because of the close association between emotional states and patterns of muscle tension.  Examples:

  • Personal trainer
  • Dance instructor
  • Acting instructor (improv in particular)
  • Martial art instructor
  • Specialist in some developed, highly technical system of kinesthetic practice (e.g. Alexander technique, Feldenkrais, Iyengar yoga or kundalini yoga)

We obviously don't have the time for everyone to learn all of these skills right now, but we would like to get the ball rolling on what's available.  Whether you're interested in joining the fellows program, visiting regularly or even just video conferencing occasionally, if you think you can teach one of these skills or something else that seems to align well with the faculties we're interested in training, please send me an email at

Even if you don't live in the Bay Area, I encourage you to post your skills here anyway, in case one of the regular Less Wrong meetup groups are interested.  There are regular meetups in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles.  As always, if there aren't already meetups in your area I encourage you to start one.