Michael Vassar will speak on "Why Do We Call Ourselves Rationalists?"

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The event begins Nov. 22, 2020 at 20:30 Israel Standard Time, 10:30 Pacific Standard time, 18:30 UTC.

Abstract: The words rationalism and empiricism have specific historical meanings. The word Bayesian, the foundational epistemology of our community, has a very different meaning, yet in practice, we tend to adopt frequentist empiricism as our usual working epistemology. This works OK in many domains, but works much less well in adversarial domains, such as the evaluation of grievances. As a result, we tend to misunderstand adversarial domains, most notably macroeconomics, but also Grievance Studies fields such as Feminism and Critical Race Theory, leading to unnecessary political conflicts. Bayesian approaches, used correctly, can precisely bound the ways in which ‘Politics is the Mindkiller’ enabling us to be reasonable political actors rather than pretending politics is a Basilisk.

Michael Vassar was executive director of the Singularly Institute before it became MIRI and CFAR. He lives in Austria and New York and is currently active in prison reform.

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