Impressing, persuading - the difference between these is mostly insignificant when dealing with non-rationalists. I chose the word due to my belief that rational argument is an inefficient method for spreading rationality. If you encounter a non-rationalist, you may rationally explain him why rationality is great, but if you leave a good impression on an emotional level, he'll probably remember the lesson about rationality much longer. Ideally we probably want to do both. Arguing people into changing their way of thinking is vastly more difficult than creating in them a desire to change. This tends to be supported by studies in psychology - people are much more likely to do things and be happy about it when their own brain gets to explain why they are doing it.

A practical example of this would be a popular movie star speaking about rationality on Oprah. Regardless of what the star said, interest in rationality would almost certainly increase, and so would the average level of rationality, even if slightly. (If the star spoke well, the effect would be larger, of course.) I'm quite certain that this would have a much larger effect on spreading rationality than having someone in a t-shirt make an argument about rationality in front of the same amount of viewers.

How many Less Wrong users have become more rational, not because of any rational arguments they read, but because they were impressed by Yudkowsky or someone else? I'll be the first to admit that being impressed by the people here was a significant factor in getting me to study rationality in more depth.

Getting people to change their ways of thinking is extremely difficult. I say that wearing a dorky T-shirt while attempting this will only make the task more difficult.

Rationality witticisms suitable for t-shirts or bumper stickers

by evand 1 min read15th Jun 201385 comments


What are your best short witticisms, suitable for use on a t-shirt, bumper sticker, or similar location? Ideally something that might make someone reading it think, or get curious enough to ask about it. Simple in-group identification is fine too, though.

For context, therufs is spending today at the NC Maker Faire making t-shirts, and asked me for suggestions this morning. As I was still mostly asleep, I wasn't very helpful.