The Singularity Institute wants to spin off a separate rationality-related organization.  (If it's not obvious what this would do, it would e.g. develop things like the rationality katas as material for local meetups, high schools and colleges, bootcamps and seminars, have an annual conference and sessions in different cities and so on and so on.)

We can't think of a name for this organization.

We can't think of any names that seem good enough to be audience-tested.

We don't have any ideas good enough that we'd want to mention them in this post.


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Google has these things to say about naming organizations:

what makes a good organization name, how to name a business: short, sweet, easily pronounced, legal, alliterative if long, not prone to abbreviation, flexible, timeless, fits with other branding, not already in the dictionary with the same definition, contains a sticky consonant, surprising, seldom directly descriptive, melodious, "cool", distinct, fun to say, trademarkable, not redundant, not criminal or shady-sounding, not lurid, at most two words, not desperate, medieval, Spanish-sounding. visual element, positive connotation, associated with what you actually do, not numbered, not named for a person, not geographic, looks good printed, rememberable, no bad connotations, spellable, description of what you do in tagline rather than name, harder consonants.

OnStartups: How To Pick A Company Name:

Customer Survey

Once we narrowed the names to around 10, we did a formal customer survey to give our users the final say. Our customers were a great help with choosing the name. We wanted the survey to be fast and simple.

The questions we asked were:

  1. For the proposed company, rate the following names from 1 to 5 (where 1

... (read more)
Who are the customers?

One obvious question: when is the name most important? When first heard; Introductions.

Some common names take the form of "[identifier] [word for a group]" or similar, eg: [Rationality] [Institute]

Use online thesauruses to find synonyms for good words, make long lists of words to combine.

Google how to come up with good names, skim chapters in marketing textbooks for meta-ideas.

Don't react fast/naturally (eg: "the name Waterline is a clever meaningful in-group signal and sounds pretty."), ask yourself how your target will react (eg: "what's that, whale environmentalists?").

Who are your targets? Intelligent ambitious young men or their uninterested 45 year old mothers? Academics? From which field? etc.

Common reaction to mention of the group will be to assume their arrogance (suggesting they can teach smartness, that they have smartness), behaving guarded but curious.

Suggestions: Insight House/ Bayesian House

Reaction: "what does bayesian mean?" it's the math (credibility+++) of how to decide (arrogance-) etc. Bring evidence into discussion if target identifies as being "logical" (young smart men).

Don't react naturally (eg: "Waterline is a clever meaningful in-group signal and sounds pretty"), ask yourself how your target will react (eg: "Oh, are they whale environmentalists?").

I think that consideration may be highly overestimated in the discussion here. Facebook isn't about faces, Twitter isn't about songbirds, google has little to do with the number "googol", The Apple Corporation isn't selling fruit... etc, etc.

A short pretty name to remember and be able to look up if you need to may be just as good as marketing. Something like "Waterline Institute" needs be clarified one ("they're talking about raising a metaphorical 'sanity waterline in the human population"), then it's a memorable enough name and visual alike.

But something like "Bayesian House" can only be clarified by making a long explanation about mathematical formulas... And it's not immediately memorable afterwards, because frankly it's just 'Bayes' is just a name, called after Thomas Bayes.

But honestly, I've never studied marketing or anything like that, so I may just be talking out of my ass here...

Can't assume google/facebook/twitter were successful because of a master plan that hinged on their name; their success doesn't strongly imply they were named well. Anecdotally, facebook was originally "The Facebook", google was originally "Googol", Twitter was once "twttr", and Apple was named on a whim when nothing could be decided on. Bayesian is an alien word, I still remember wondering what it was when I first saw it. Repeating a word/name aloud is the recommended way to remember them on first impression, and memorability matters, but encouraging that kind of memorability is a small factor anyway, just for the record. Edit: Whether or not my ideas are good, I disagree that the importance of immediate reaction is overrated. It's hard to say precisely how it has been "rated" in the conversation, but I think it matters a lot in framing the ensuing seconds of conversation.

Another useful question is: which existing organizations do you want to differentiate yourself from?

For instance there are already companies out there monetizing the "train your brain" promise, such as Lumosity (a name which has some accidental Less Wrong annotations), Mind Sparke, etc.

Based on my research, "foundation", "Institute" and "center" are the most common nouns that are used in the names of nonprofits in approximately that order. "Center" might be inappropriate because the organization in question will probably not be based out of a single building. In my view, the most important things are that the name should clearly communicate what the organization does, should not sound cultish, and should sound good in the same sentence as "the singularity Institute". (This may rule out "Institute" as well.) Here are some names of mine. Many suggest the emphasis of System 2 over System 1. Others suggest improvements to the process of thinking itself, as opposed to being more correct than others about something. * The Better Decisions Foundation * The Deliberative Thought Foundation * The Foundation for Improved Decision-Making * The Foundation for Reflective Thought * The Foundation for Better Reasoning * The Careful Thinking Foundation * The Foundation for Everyday Rationality And some clever and probably bad names: * The Slow Thinking Foundation * The Primate Debugging Group * Think Carefully
If we take this--"One obvious question: when is the name most important? When first heard; Introductions."--seriously, then the simpler the better. Hence, more descriptive names with a higher syllable count, like "deliberative thought foundation" or "foundation for improved decision-making" are inferior to names like "the better decisions foundation". Another consideration: don't pick something obviously pretentious, like "the primate debugging group", nor something less obviously pretentious, like "the careful thinking foundation"---so what, that implies that I, let's say I'm an outsider, am not a careful thinker? On the other hand, "the better decisions foundation" isn't as pretentious. Or if it is, it's more acceptable because businesses are interested in better decisions (it's specific enough that the first thought isn't merely indignation). Therefore, I upvoted for "The Better Decisions Foundation"
"The Better Decisions Foundation" is my favorite of the names I suggested as well; that was why I put it first. I put the others mostly to give an idea of the possibilities that were out there, especially if someone wanted to do further brainstorming along the lines I did.
I like "Insight". It alludes to "Incite", which is an exciting word that is related to the organization (definition- to give rise to, to urge into action, to stir up, etc). And it also can be broken into "in sight", which can be related to having your goals in sight, striving to reach for an attainable goal, etc. So it's one word, with 3 positive connotations (Insight, Incite, and In Sight) How about: Sanity Insight Rationality Insight Insight Insight Institute Edited: Changed all "InSight" suggestions to "Insight", because I agree with markette's critique below.

Forget cleverness for its own sake, optimize for the consequences.

someone reads "InSight", their brain says "oh, I get it, they combined insight and in sight. Their name is a pun." imagines suited marketing man. Where do you want to go for lunch?

Capturing that first thought and directing it somewhere useful is crucial

I think you're right. Good word, bad capital "S". I edited my suggestions to fix it.
I like "Insight" too, but probably not "InSight" as part of the name, feels a bit gimmicky, as markette says. "Insight Institute" has nice alliteration. "Applied Insight" has good connotations for caring about effectiveness, as opposed to mere philosophizing. It also has the same initials as "Artificial Intelligence" which I'm not sure if it's a minus or a plus.
Then they could use old "SIAI" headed notepaper to refer to the union of SI and AI!
Can you imagine anyone's opinion being altered by such a thing? Its value rounds to zero (It's nonzero, but the smallest credit the human mind could give it is, I suspect, too much).
I get your point -- but still: If something's initials mean something different, this means it effectively can't be referenced or googled by those initials. Yeah, this is a minor point if the name is just two words, but still something to consider if someone has name ideas that include "Figuring Better Ideas", "Cognitive Insight Applications" or for that matter "Neural Augmentation and Methodical Bettering of Life Alliance" . :-)
Inciting Insight Inside is In Sight! (Sorry, couldn't help myself...)
"Insight" reminds me first of Consensus Buddhism. I'd think of anyone speaking of insight in general as selling some form of vipassana. See for example the very influential Insight Meditation Society.
  • Decision Tree

  • Decision Tree Foundation.

Combines [thing you do] with [nice sounding word], also lends itself to lots of nice logos.
How about 'The Decision Tree'?
My favorite so far.
While nicely sounding, it probably does not convey the relevant information to an "outsider". Particularly, this is something a straw Vulcan would do, make a perfectly logical decision based on lousy priors. It emphasizes process over goals, and so is susceptible to lost purposes. I wonder if this suggestion can be modified to clarify the ultimate goal: to make the best decision possible, including digging up the best possible priors and testing the conclusions along the way. Unfortunately, my metaphor chest came up cringe-worthy: Decision Tree... Garden?, Cultivating Decision Tree?.
Decision Tree: Roots of Knowledge. Decision Tree: Applied Wisdom. Decision Tree: Our mascot is a thinly veiled rip-off of an Ent! Sweet!
If I have understood you correctly, you think that rationality do not corresponds well to having a decision trees, but rather to the process of cultivation them? I guess you could try to integrate that, but then you are running the risk of making it an in-group name, rather than actually convening some sketchy picture of what the institute is about.
I like these almost as much as like "Waterline".

Less Wrong

The Modern Rationality Institute.

The institute for Bayesian Reasoning

Center for applied rationality.

The Applied Rationality Institute

Upvoted for "Center for Applied Rationality".

"The Eliezer Yudkowsky Center for Kids Who Can't Think Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too"

"The Eliezer Yudkowsky center for promoting rationality" actually sounds like a nice and honest name to me.
Upvoted for "Less Wrong". It's a perfectly good name for a website, and it's a perfectly good name for an institute.
I like how Center for Applied Rationality sounds, though it might be too long. Or maybe that isn't a problem and suddenly the amount of times I type the word CAR would increase. How about Colligate Institute? Though maybe Colligate is too obscure a word (Google Chrome's spell-checker has it underlined in red).
Looks too much like a typo for "collegiate", which is a much more common word.
I'd say its pretty obscure.

The Human Rationality Project.

"Fuck, this doesn't look good for our species..."
Connotations: -from the Friendly AI Critical Failure Table More like it dissolves the question of identity in this case, amirite?
Snerk. I hadn't even thought of that connotation. I can't decide if I like the name more or less now!
Definitely more for me, and its a good name anyway.
Can someone explain to me what the joke is that got this comment so many upvotes and AI-joke replies?

It wasn't a joke suggestion-- I actually like the name, and was thinking more in terms of drawing lines between this and the Human Genome Project when I originally wrote it. This comment was also highly upvoted before people pointed out the joke, though it may be that people were laughing in secret and there are more "funny upvotes" than "quality upvotes."

That being said, in the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, there is something called the Human Instrumentality Project. The FAI Critical Failure Table result linked is a reference to the goal of this project, which is (in)famous amongst fans of the show; I can't really say more without spoilers. Googling should provide a more complete overview if you don't get it.


I got a positive reception for "Waterline" in my comment here.

The name should be meaningful or at least not confusing to the general population.

That really sounds like an unnecessary constraint. It's not as if the only thing people are going to hear about the organisation is the name; presumably they'd also hear something about what it does.

In my view, a name that doesn't need to come with an explanation is worth more than a name that makes for good in joke.
False dichotomy. "Meaningful names are better than in-joke names" is not the same thing as "the name must necessarily be meaningful".

One friend of mine said that it was confusing not just because he didn't know why it was relevant, but because the word "Waterline" has no strong positive connotations.

If the goal is to promote rationality, it seems counterproductive to have an offputting name...

"Waterline" isn't off-putting, just opaque. So are things like "Oxfam".

Waterline makes me think of Landmark, seasteading, and Bond villains trying to drown the planet.

Don't forget Sea Org!

Waterline makes me think of The Watchtower, Wedge Strategy, and Blackwater USA.
I dislike opacity, myself. Also, I find "Oxfam" transparent.
I expect it to be slightly off-putting. I could be wrong.
I think it would need to have a byline to at least give outsiders some idea of what it was about. But that is a really good name.
"Practice Sanity"? "Expect the Likely"?
I like the former. Not really the latter.
I like the latter as a tagline for something.
The Waterline Institute for the Study and Practice of Critical Thinking

The Waterline Institute for the Study and Practice of Rationality, or WISPR.

Someone mentioned Bond villains? I can't tell if it's too silly/menacing, or if it's ridiculously awesome.
How about "Groundswell"? It refers to a kind of wave, as well as a change in people's views or behaviour (usually viewed positively). "Grounds" also has a relevant meaning as in "grounds to believe", without being a blatantly distasteful pun.
Yeah, that would be a great name, not /sarcasm I don't mean to pick only on this proposed name, but it sounds like most commenters are seeing the naming ideas from the perspective of insiders, or from the perspective irrationally in love with their proposal. There are probably dozens of names like Groundswell and Waterline that have clever connotations. Given humans' propensity to over-associate, this is hardly surprising. I do see a distinction, though, between the two: Waterline has a more immediate / clearer physical image, which is definitely a plus.

What do current notable-ish think tanks, seminar runners, and organized social groups call themselves? (Following markette's notation)

Think tanks:

[name of notable public figure or thinker] [word for group]
Hoover Institution
Cato Institute

[positive word with coded meaning] [word for group, can come first]
Center for American Progress
Heritage Foundation

[acronym] [not even a whole word]

[word for group] [thing you do]
Council on Foreign Relations
Center for Strategic and International Studies

Seminar runner names:

[modifier, optional] [thing you do] [word for a group]
National Seminars Group

[related word or phrase, spelling optional]
Career Potential

[broader group description] [word for group]
American Management Association

Organized social stuff:

[descriptive word or phrase]

[who you are] [word for a group]
Atheist Foundation

[nice-sounding word, relatedness optional] [word for a group, optional]
Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, etc. Club

[in-group signalling word or phrase]
Penny Arcade


If we go for a name template that has a lot of overlap between the three groups, I think the clear favorite is the prosaic [thing you do] [word for a group], bonus points if [thing yo... (read more)

By the way, hope you are not trying to do branding by discussing it internally only. None of you are typical minds, so you may want to collect top 10 or top 100 best names and run it by your target audience, see what their impression is. Beta-test it, so to speak. (This forum barely counts as alpha-testing.)

Best I've come up with so far:

The Institute for Advanced Sanity

too cute IMO
I like this. Or more generally, I like having "Advanced Sanity" in the name.
Of course, I then wondered if anyone else was using the phrase "Advanced Sanity" (and if I'd taken it from somewhere). The first few hits were all Eliezer on LW, and other people only seem to put together those words accidentally.

I like that name in the abstract but worry about associations with mental health.

Even actual mental health gets "who are they to tell us what's sane and what isn't" reactions every now and then. An organization that doesn't start out with a massive positive reputation might fare worse.

"Advanced Sanity" matches a strong comparative qualifier to a basic trait. While "sanity" has problems, as mentioned below, I think the phrase derives much of its power from its underlying pattern, which can be used in other suggestions.
First ones that come to mind with this structure: Intelligent Winning Calculated Success Acting for Success Intelligent Change Rational Success Purposeful Rationality Purposeful Wisdom Purposeful Thought Purposeful Strategy & whatever institute, foundation, center etc. bits people want to add on.
Super Sapiens! ...I mean sapience. Adroit Acumen Elevated Erudition Superb Sagacity Crack Contemplation
Don't know if the pun is intended, but I suspect that some people - not familiar with LW - will take it for a sanitation initiative.
I like the bonus for people who know their Princeton. Maybe not as effective with average audiences, though - slightly weird, several syllables.
I think that's a problem actually. We don't want to imply affiliation with them when that isn't the case.

Having "Rationality" in the name would probably be a bad thing. (Straw Vulcan stereotypes and all that.) "Bayesian" is a much better choice IMO.

Why not call it something like BayesWay?

Or how about that old Japanese cliche... "Better than Yesterday"? That would go well with Stabilizer's "Update Yourself" byline.

On the other hand, "Bayes" could make people say: "It is about some advanced statistics, that's not for me."

I guess the goal is to provide rationality to everyone who cares, not to appear like something for-specialists-only.

I'm not sure that "Bayes" or "Bayesian" has a strong public association with anything unless you're already interested in statistics. I've used it in several discussions and every time had to give a quick explanation of what it meant. (Good practice for honing my explanations and reinforcing the concept in my own brain, as well.)
Upvoted for "Better than Yesterday."

Why not just call it Less Wrong, or some variation on that?

Have we heard a reason not to do so? It would help to piggyback off the SEO already done.

Wrote a list of 100 ideas, here are the highlights:

  • Insight Out
  • The Upsight Institute
  • Wisdom18
  • Level Up
  • Thinking Plus
  • Reason Out
  • Making Sense
A few more: * Good Reason * Sight and Mind * Tactical Reasoning * Wisdom Plus One I'm on a phone, apologies for terse commenting.
6Paul Crowley
I quite like Good Reason
"Tactical Reasoning" sounds cool, but also slightly militaristic. Maybe not the best message to send. Maybe a really cool name for a book or group of rationality katas, though.
You could shelve it next to Street-Fighting Mathematics.
Taken but that unknown enough that something with Good Reason in it, but with a little more, ex. "The Good Reason Group" should work.
I upvoted, but I'll clarify why, as this is a list: the only name I like on this list is Level Up, but I strongly like it.
A worthy clarification! I considered making one comment per idea, but I'm not sure they are all up to that level of scrutiny.
I also REALLY like Level Up. It solidified pretty quickly in my brain. The name expands pretty easily to "Level Up Enterprises" or somesuch, if preferred. And I can easily envision the second prong on the letter "U" being an up-arrow. I originally liked Insight Out, but when I reflected on it, I think I am being influenced by consistency bias, because I already threw my hat in with the word "Insight" earlier. I still think it's a really good one, I just like Level Up better!
I don't like it much--it brings up mental images that you're going be there with a bunch of people who treat it as a game, rather than a serious endeavor (something that suggests it might be fun is fine, but not something that suggests it is not serious). And maybe that it will be mostly intended for the video game demographic of socially awkward college-aged men.
I love Level Up except for one thing, one kind of big thing. It may not be meaningful to the majority of people not familiar with gaming. That's the only thing I see as a potential downside, but...

Center for Excellence in Thinking and Deciding
Less Wrong Foundation
Institute for the Advancement of Human Rationality

Not really, "foundations" are usually funds that redirect money to other worthy causes, while the organization in question will be generating its own content and services. On the other hand, there is Wikimedia Foundation, which was the example that established the analogy for me.
In this case it's redirecting minds. That's the ultimate goal isn't it?

BTW our best current suggestion came from these comments, so keep it up!

PM me if you want my opinion without revealing the name in public.

It would help if we knew more about what the point of the name is. Most importantly what do you want the name to signal about the organization? Hip and edgy or dignified and respectible? Hardcore or something anyone could be apart of? That sort of thing. Also do you want to embrace or shy away from the fact that you are technically in the self help business.

I think that a good name should be somewhat arbitrary; it should not be a description of what organization does. It is easier to google, and also does lead to quick judgement "yeah, I totally can imagine what exactly they do; I don't need any more information". It should be user friendly, not sound like some government institution or something very advanced scientifically or technically. It should not evoke "this is not for me" response. Easy to remember and pronounce. No strong associations. Bad associations are obviously bad, but also associations that are good for some people, are probably bad for some other people. It's not just self-help, it's also other-help, like an educational institution.

Not seen anyone suggest this yet, but the simple things are always good:

Rationality Institute

Derive something from Latin? You've got callidus for clever, sapio for wise, subtilis for precise, veri for truth...

So maybe the Callida Council, or Veri Institute, or the Verus Foundation.

The Less Wrong Institution, for the refinement of human rationality.

Sapiet House.

Fuck it, go with BayesCamp.

And "ratio", which also turns up in "likelihood ratio". If we're going ugly corporate neologism, we could do Accuratio (ETA: which turns out to be a company in Latvia). The Bayes Factor?
BayesCamp would be just one thing that the [insert rationality inst name] provides, I think. Speaking of which, I wonder what possibilities could arise of coordinating BayesCamp Kids with Camp Quest...

These aren't very good:

Alliance for Accuracy. Be Right Club. Make No Mistake. Better Believe. Untangle. Second Thought. Judgewell. Sanity Plus.

Query Huggers. Oops Masters. Belief Rentiers. Belief Landlords. Level Up Artists.

Utilon. The Weirdtopia Group.
awesome. It took me a second to get that.
I beg to differ. Think about what someone who doesn't get the reference will think.
Good point.
Map Masters. Sanity Sharpeners. Reality Reflecters. Truth Trackers. Bayesbound.

The Disciples of Laplace. The Bayesheviks. The Accurati. The Order of the Urn. Sanity Streamlining. Sanetuary. Decision Division. Madness Mitigation. Consequence Captains. Consequence Institute. Outcome Institute. Veracity Institute. Cooler Cognition Council. Campus Crusade for Correct Cognition. Answers In Sequences. Church of Probabilitology. (Obviously some of these are unviable. Just brainstorming.)

Center for Correct Contrarianism. Unbounded Rationality Institute. All Your Bayes Are Belong To Us Foundation, Inc.
If any LW meetup groups become university-affiliated organizations, this is what they should be called.
The "Fight Club" allusion is good, though. Instant recognition if you can manage to activate that node, and it ties in well with the idea of a rationality dojo. Combining that with other ideas you'd get "Insight Club".
4Paul Crowley
"Rationality Dojo" hasn't been suggested.
Only in plural. :)
Jugewell sound a lot like Givewell (obviously) but I like it! Sanity plus sounds a bit like franchise of Humanity Plus but that might be a good thing (?).

"Grey Belt" - combines the "we are all aspiring rationalists" notion (white belt, also activates the dojo node) with a significant color word - grey matter.

"Possible Minds" - because that's an Eliezer catchphrase, but also a succinct statement of the intent: to explore the space of possible minds, although only in a tiny region to start with. (You may view the link with SI - exploring the same space much farther out - as a bonus or as a problem.)

"Hedgefox". Not 100% original, but combines a prediction reference (cover of Tetlock's book), references to thinking styles, and the notion of cognitive diversity.

Upvoted for Grey Belt. The other two are terrible. Grey Belt on the other hand, is a clear image, very short, and has the added advantage of (possibly) being immediately understood by ~1/2 of the general population (at least next to a good logo).

The Center for Better Reasoning

The Center for Better Thinking

You could name it after a statistician. Laplace is taken, but Bayes, Jaynes, Jeffreys, and others are free.


Applied Insight Institute (or just Insight Institute).

Sounds like a Landmark Forum-type cult (although this is an intuition I don't have much insight into).

Rationality Dojos

Is martial arts really a good metaphor for rationality? I think ergonomics, hygiene, or nutrition is a better metaphor, myself. It's supposed to be applied to all aspects of your life, it's hard to measure the benefits, and it's something you do continuously, rather than at specific times. Also, it's more about avoiding bad habits than anything.
I agree ... and think that martial arts are a perfect metaphor for exactly the reasons you just outlined. Knowledge of a perfect 'style' of fighting would be applied to all aspects of life, and would be continuously practiced. By mastery of the true and sublime kung-fu, you would avoid all bad habits and work forever towards becoming stronger. What you take from the dojo protects you every day, making your life better. And let's be honest: a building when you learn to kick ass is WAY sexier than a center that teaches ergonomics, hygiene or nutrition. If we're trying to sell LessWrong, it can't hurt to make LessWrong sexy. I'm not saying that 'Rationality Dojo' is the best answer. But I do really like the metaphor.
Dojo describes the nature of the organisation rather than the subject being studied (e.g. there are Go dojos). This being practical exercises towards a common goal, rather than say an 'academy' that studies it in the abstract.
Yes, but how many english speakers know that?

Practical Anticipation (Institute/Project/Center/etc.)

I predict this thread will turn into a bike shed brawl.

Totally obvious, but less likely with this preemptive comment.

The gold standard of such institutions is The Royal Philosophical Society.

Perhaps some form of The __ Philosophical Society.

What goes in the blank I am drawing a blank on. The California or Silicon Valley P.S. would be fine. The opposite of Royal is Commoner so the Common P. S. might be OK. Or Common Sense P.S. Or Real or Reality P. S. I would not use Bayes as a bunch of physical scientists whose attention you might want to attract are nigh-dogmatic frequentists right now but could presumably be weaned from their dogma.

Not sure if the're good ideas, but the following appear to be free. The Practical Philosophical Society The Modern Philosophical Society The Empirical Philosophical Society. If anyone on LW happens to be surprisingly well connected "The Royal Rationality Society" would be great.
Not saying that a lot of the stuff on Less Wrong is philosophy, but you don't think it's a bit risky going for "Philosoph-" something? A potential improvement would be something more along the lines of Neurophilosphy. (?) New branding that is. Edit: Oops, suppose to say "[...] is not philosophy [...]"

Maybe it would be wise to make sure people do not confuse rationality with Hollywood rationality or rationalism?

Wise Decision Institute.

Thorough Thought.

Thorough Thinking

EDIT: I guess one could add Foundation.

MBlume's analogy (way back) of how we're cartographers has struck me as a cool one. Cartographer to me carries the same kind of weight as Alchemist would. Here are some names based on that trope.

  • Mind Charts
  • Internal Compass
  • Mental Cartography
  • Map is Territory

I hope someone does better than I can at using this theme.

"Mind Charter" comes off as a pun, because 'charter' is literally a treaty as well as a description of someone who makes maps. "The Mind Charter" could stand on its own.

I like how SIAI's name references both the event you're working toward and method of achieving it. Is there a single word that describes a watershed event that would indicate the rationality institute's direct success like "Singularity" does an intelligence explosion? That supporters could rally around and label themselves by (singularitarian)? A word for approximating the ideal Bayesian updater, for felling akrasia, for actually changing one's mind? Can we create or annex one?

Exaltation, Transcendence, Apotheosis, Enlightenment, Upload, Elevatio... (read more)

After some thought, I hereby create Max Agency! Plucky comic superhero mascot of Zenith Agency (Z.A. Huzzah!) ...for Consequential Action (Z.A.C.A.) The acronym for which happens to be Max's battlecry, but only when shouted in triplicate of course! Now that I have a word, the idea of an agency without agents (only aspiring agents) tickles me tremendously. Other thoughts: Agency Institute for Rationality Training (A.I.R. Training) Agency Foundation for Applied Rationality (A.F.A.R.)

More ideas below. Incidentally, I am not really aiming to win the thread here. I just learned the cool technique of writing lists of 100 ideas, the idea being that quantity leads to quality. Apparently it's most effective to have some people generate ideas, and others critique them. By now I'm firmly in the first camp on this task.

The latest ideas:

  • Groundswell (as in logical grounds)
  • Enhance Mental
  • Inferential Iteration
  • Phronesis (or Fronesis)
  • Logical Operators
  • Mentat Mentors
  • Sharp Ratio (a pun on this)

Edit: Fixed links.

Tangent on the 100 idea list: I think this may be one of the most useful little tidbits I've ever come across. It's a perfectly natural complement to the -think about it for five minutes- and -hold off on proposing solutions- ideas, spectacular for solo problem solving. It's so obvious I feel dumb for not having tried it earlier. Why we're spending our time speculating on stuff like directed marijuana highs (Not that I don't like that post. I do.) when we've barely even got our basic katas down I'll never understand. Unless everyone here is secretly halfway to beisutsukai mastery already and I've been left out of the loop. Wouldn't be the first time something like that has happened.
* Lucidity * Reflexively Rational * Powergame Reality * Power Level Life

The Center for the Advancement of Human Reason

Calibrating Cognition


PhronEasy, with the tagline "Making practical wisdom simple". No, wait, that's terrible.

My brother does some work for a professional naming company. Their prices are high, but they sound very professional (some of the stuff he talks about is a lot like what was mentioned here. If everything else fails, do be aware that such people exist.

8Scott Alexander
Also, how about "Cogito"? Sounds related to thinking, but otherwise vague and non-threatening.
People would hesitate over the pronunciation of the "g" (which is as in "get", not as in "gem" -- the Catholic Church be damned).


and for the sake of completeness: Thinkbest
Thinkbest is an evil cybernetics corporation from D20 Modern's Cyberscape sourcebook.
Damn, it's taken! - Effective online videos and online courses for high school and college students in math, science, and social science. Achieve success where traditional ...
Better Knowing.

Think to win

I was trying to think of a way to put "win" in there. It's too bad "Winning the Future" is already taken.

Here's a lightly-edited brainstorm:

  • Institute for Clearer Thinking
  • Foundation for Better Thinking
  • Better Thinking Buereau
  • Foundation for Critical Thought
  • Rationality Foundation
  • Center for Sharper Thought
  • Center for Reason and its Applications
  • Center for Applied Reason
  • Guild of Reason
  • Center for Reason

Update: The Rationality Institute

or maybe "Update yourself" might be a nice byline for whatever name is chosen.

I really like "Update yourself" as a byline. Especially in the context of pitching this to tech startups/software developer types. (It's reminiscent of updating your computer). It could combine well with james_edwards' suggestion above of Level Up into: Level Up byline: Update yourself (Or: Update Your Self ? )

Looks like the current name is "Center for Modern Rationality". Points to beoShaffer!

I technically didn't suggest "Center for Modern Rationality", but I seem to have been the only one to suggest "Modern Rationality" and it is pretty close to "Center for Applied Rationality". So, I guess it's possible I inspired it.
  • (Centre for) Art of Reason
  • Art of Winning
  • Act Better
  • Right on Target (or Target on Right)
  • Evidence Based
  • Mindtweak
  • Mindhack
  • Effective Agency
  • Winning Institute
  • Inspired Thought
  • Achieve
  • Decision Training
  • Better Model
  • Perfect Thought
  • Motivated Action
Upvoted for "Target on Right".


Y'know, we came up with this idea for this institution and all the cool things we could do. We got so wrapped up in it that the name was kind of an afterthought.


Are we going for something academic-sounding or something self-improvement sounding?

Mostly we're just trying to brainstorm such that the more names the better, whether those are academic or self-improvement sounding.

Not sure if this discussion is still ongoing, but...

It seems to me that something that means "rationality" should be in there, and probably a word that means "institute".

Some words are to be avoided, like 'belief', which carry weird connotations. Weird-sounding is probably bad ("Mensa" sounds too weird to lots of people). English words are probably best. Being tied to a person's name is hardly ever a good idea.

The Institute for Intelligence Utilization
Make Humanity Smarter
Sanity Academy
League of Extraordinary Thinkers
The Br... (read more)

Sadly, "Icarus Foundation" is taken.

"The Rationalist Society"

(Possibly its a British thing, but society sounds far better/more benevolent than Institute or similar.)

I have the opposite reaction: "society" sounds much more potentially menacing (whereas "Skull and Bones Institute" makes me laugh out loud).
  • Whatever Works
  • Dreamshine
  • Attainment
  • Veridian
  • Reasound
  • Minds' Arts
  • Melodine
  • Sunshine Army
  • Embrace Sense
I really like "Whatever Works"
Upvoted for "Attainment". "Reasound" is clever but awkward to say.
  1. The Society for Enhanced Reasoning

  2. The Institute for Enhanced Reasoning

The Thought Academy.
The Thought Institute.
The Outthink Center.

Either Clarity Workshops (we offer them) or Clarity Workshop (we work on clarity instead of cars). Depends on how much you want to focus on running things-you-can-call-workshops (ie seminars, lectures, group training sessions, and so on).

I'm slightly worried about this association:
That did not occur to me. Good point.
  • Shut Up and Multiply (SUM)
  • Society for Methodical Rationality Training (SMRT) (ok, not really)
  • Rationality Praxis Institute

Shut Up and Multiply (SUM)

Unfortunately that's not even a very good phrase to begin with, let alone as a name for an organization. People hearing it for the first time without context mostly seem to assume that refers to reproduction, presumably by comparison to the phrase "be fruitful and multiply", or at least have that come to mind and are confused about what it has to do with rationality.

Yes, I recall being very confused when I first saw that phrase in Three Worlds Collide. To this day I don't know why people use "multiply" instead of "calculate".

Shut Up and Calculate's Katas would SUCK.

I have always assumed it derived from modeling expected-value calculations as the product of likelihood-of-scenario and value-of-scenario.
The phrase is in fact a mutation of "Shut up and calculate", a common stance pragmatical physicists take towards discussions of the interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Practical Reasoning Institute

Institute for Practical Reasoning

reasonable minds


rationality brigade

reason (insert word for group)

raison d'être

*(yes, I know, it is not technically a word)

0Ramana Kumar
names don't have to be words already
  • Foundation for Human Sapience (or Foundation for Advanced Sapience)

  • Reality Transplantation Center

  • Thoughtful Organization

  • CORTEX - Center for Organized Rational Thinking and EXperimentation

  • OOPS - Organization for Optimal Perception Seekers

  • BAYES - Bureau for Advancing Yudkowsky's Experiments in Sanity

How broad of a market are we aiming for? Is this intended to appeal mostly to people who know about and like "traditional rationality," or to random corporations?


Project Sanity

Center/Institute/Foundation for Applied Epistemology

Center/Institute/Foundation for Applied Sanity

Center/Institute/Foundation for Applied Thinking

Center/Institute/Foundation for Applied Thought

Meta-suggestion: I would really like if the word "Applied" was in there somewhere.

  • Human Rationality Institute
  • Human Reasoning Institute
Institute for Human Rationality (IHR).
Improving Rationality Institute. Better Reasoning Institute.

The Center for the Advancement of Human Thought


Practical Epistemics Institute.



Other suggestions in the opaque-but-meaningful-to-the-ingroup category might include "Tsuyoku Naritai" and "Algernon". Any name optimized for ingroup recognition is likely to suffer the same issues as "Waterline" or "Less Wrong", i.e. won't mean much to outsiders.

My best tries:

Simple but boring

  • Mostly Rational
  • Decision Training
  • Minding Mind
  • Methods that Actually Work (MAW)

Too fancy

  • Technical Thinking Institute
  • Practical Problem Solving
  • Mental Floss / Mental Sharpener
  • Whatever Is Necessary (WIN)
  • Epistemic Voracity Dance
  • The Unfettered, Unwavering Path to Glorious Triumph!
[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
Could trigger the knee-jerk reaction to "The ends always justify the means, stupid rabbit, durr!" and all such Rand-like screed that's even now floating around in contrarian circles.
How you came up with "The ends always justify the means" as being "Rand-like" is beyond me.
It's a stereotype of her thinking in America, no?
Selfishness (which is the American stereotype) != ends justify means.
Oh. Got it.


Say it out loud.


Non-googleability is a minus.

The Illuminated Reason Institute

The Development of Reason and Rationality (DORR) Institute (it's pleonastic but it sounds nice; could just use one of the Rs)

The Course Corrective Institute

The Moreright Institute

The Better Life Institute

(It'd be so much easier if it could have a German name.)

What would you name it if you could use German.
I didn't have any specific examples in mind, I was just referring to how easily and meaningfully you can combine words in German to form a new word. See Rinderkennzeichnungs- und Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz.
Too long-winded and pompous.
Which one? All of them? Edit: Shouldn't be any worries about having a long name where you can used an acronym. E.g., SETI (Search for extraterrestrial intelligence) institute.
The "The Whatever Institute" structure in general.
I got that structure from googling < institute>... There's also The Institute for structure

:: Mind Chess ::

That's the name that I've always called a manner of looking through the mind for routes that one has taken and routes that one may potentially take. We must be able to look ahead to see what all the myriad potentials of outcomes are before we make a decision. And a positively configured move will bring us closer to the position of our goal. It is a puzzle, it is a game, it is the outcome of success we seek. We all can do it! New manners of programming our minds simply and easily is the future, and it is what we need to breed harmonious creations, yeah!

A good first step in optimizing the world according to your wishes is noticing and acknowledging that you've got a problem.

With that in mind, why should the rational community frame its core activities — development of epistemic and acquisition of instrumental rationality, plus public advocacy of sanity — simply as another fun game to engage in, with an added benefit of warm fuzzies and making oneself feel smart?

Wouldn't it be better to provoke a question, or, better yet, an acknowledgement — yes, I am (neurotypical) human, I am fallible (irrational), I wi... (read more)

Live to win.

MoreRight i had this thought and apologize

Has anyone tried doing a mind map? They're simple procedures that (specifically graphic) designers use to upstart creative thinking. You start with any word in the center relating to the problem you want solved (and all design is, is problem solving, mind) and then write out every term that you think of without self doubt. Though this link is referring more to the visual design applications of the method, it's still really useful and is how my professor taught me.

On the other hand... (read more)

  • Humanity's Potential
  • Sense Trust
  • Reach
  • Brightness Released
  • Grow Beyond
  • Coherent Life
  • Reflex Rational (or Rational Reflex)
  • Praxis Rational
  • Accurate Agency
  • The Accuracy Agency
  • Change Agent
  • Improved Metrics
  • Practical Measures
  • Better Measures
  • Measure Mental
  • Calibration
  • Making Sense
  • Percept Action
  • Precision Living

Truthward Ho!

Global Winning

Lonely Dissent




  • Subliminal Processing
  • Wordless Thought
  • Ratikata
  • LessWrong Dojo
  • Think Academy

(Thomas) Bayes Institute

More Right Institute

Right has political connotation in at least America, and I think most other english speaking countries as well.