Can we teach Rationality at the University of Reddit?

by Lightwave1 min read20th Aug 201210 comments

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This was posted a few hours ago. Basically, the reddit admins have decided to promote the so-called "University of Reddit", a subreddit where people can offer and teach any course they'd like, or just attend a course. This is official website for all courses. At the time of this posting the subreddit had ~38,400 subscribers, but I expect it will grow significantly.

Given the reddit demographics, a Rationality course has the potential to become extremely popular. The exposure can popularize CFAR and LessWrong, and can be used to recruit fresh minds for rationality-related causes. Also maybe run experiments with curricula or methods of teaching rationality?

What do you guys think?

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I don't know about this "we" thing. Can you do it?

The proposer's comparative advantage may be elsewhere: They may lack the lack the ability, or be overburdened with other, more valuable activities.

Always suggesting that the proposer carries out their idea deters people from offering ideas, some of which might have proved valuable.

Also, by saying "we," the proposer may actually be volunteering to serve as a representative of the group, soliciting their opinions and their help.

On the other hand, the proposer may be the best motivated to carry it out.

I didn't necessarily mean the proposer, I meant, y'know, you.

A single person seems less likely to be capable of carrying out this sort of project than a group of people. Posting an invitation to contribute on a message board for people who are interested in rationality couldn't be a bad idea. And if the OP wanted to undertake this by themselves, as you suggest, they wouldn't have asked for help.

It's perfectly understandable that you may have legitimate reasons for not getting involved into this, what with the rest of your projects, but if you're going to say "don't count on me", at least don't say it in a way that suggests you expect most people to not be interested in contributing.

Maybe if it is called something like "Art and science of better decision-making"...

[-][anonymous]9y 37

At Portland Community College (Oregon) I took a class called 'Science and the Paranormal.' On the first day of class the teacher said 'if I'd called this class 'Critical Thinking' most of the seats would be empty. As it is, I have a waiting list each term.' It was all critical thinking / formal logic / scientific method / etc. that used student-suggested paranormal topics. No judgement before investigation, no claim of true / false only strong / weak evidence. He did discourage religious claims getting the same treatment in order to 'be sensitive' (avoid lawsuits). Otherwise, perfect stem to stern.

On the first day of class the teacher said 'if I'd called this class 'Critical Thinking' most of the seats would be empty

Makes sense that lesson one in the critical thinking course would be about short-circuiting students' normal thinking :P

Why? In comparison to the rest of the lesson titles, this sort of rhetorical embellishment seems excessive. I at least don't expect people to be put off by a title such as "Intro to Applied Rationality" or something similar. (But then again, that's because I wouldn't be put off by it... Possible mind projection fallacy.)

There has been an interest check in a rationality course Course on logic and critical thinking which garnered significant interest: 261 upvotes at the time of this post. A course in rationality certainly seems to hold the interest of redditors, especially since 200+ upvotes are quite rare outside of the big 30 subreddits.

The original poster of the interest check is websnarf. If anyone is interested in helping him out, PM him, as he stated that he didn't create the syllabus yet

Of course, running a concurrent course is also an option since he seems to be focusing on logic and logical fallacies.

I think this is a great idea. Depending on CFAR's objectives this could be worth a significant effort.