gilch's Comments

What are the best self-help book summaries you've read?

Here's (short) summary of Mini Habits that I wrote a while back. I wouldn't say this changed my life or anything, but the technique basically works. YMMV.

Rationalist Scriptures?

basically required reading so that we can have a community with a fixed starting point

What exactly do you want these "scriptures" for? The culture is not the "doctrine". Let's not conflate the two.

If you want to join the culture, the only way is to interact with it enough to let it rub off on you. This takes time. HPMOR is a great introduction to it, but the other sources you mentioned also work and they're not the only ones. It doesn't particularly matter where you start, as long as it holds your interest long enough for that osmosis to happen.

The "doctrine" is perhaps easier to distill, but the distilled version is not always easier to digest. Inferential gaps are a real problem. The Twelve Virtues of Rationality is such an attempt, but it's a terrible starting point IMHO. They don't make sense unless you already understand the principles behind them. They're better at helping you remember things once you already start to "get it".

I put "doctrine" in scare quotes because even calling it that puts it dangerously close to certain failure modes we warn against: "If you speak overmuch of the Way you will not attain it." I feel like saying "our doctrine is that we have no doctrine", but that isn't quite right either. We have two core principles, plus some key insights that most of humanity currently lacks. The rest follows from that.

The first principle is "self-honesty" or "Epistemic Rationality". Study not the capital-T "Truth" which the deluded and the deceivers will say they already have, but the methods that lead one to it. I have found no better illustration of the correct attitude of self-honesty than the Litany of Tarski, which is a template you can apply to any claim, especially claims one might be inclined to take personally (e.g. "God exists"):

If the box contains a diamond,
I desire to believe that the box contains a diamond;
If the box does not contain a diamond,
I desire to believe that the box does not contain a diamond;
Let me not become attached to beliefs I may not want.

The second principle is "rationalists should win" or "Instrumental Rationality". What wins is how we define "rationality", regardless of your preconceived notions. "Rational" techniques that don't win are suspect.

Many subcultures claim to have insights that most of humanity lacks (and some even do). Which of ours are the most important is less clear-cut than the two principles.

I feel that the links in Raising the Sanity Waterline, and also The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant, and Beyond the Reach of God are especially important and could serve as your "rationalist scriptures", but that's my opinion.

We run the Center for Applied Rationality, AMA

I note that Principles and Getting things Done are not on CFAR's reading list, even though the rest are.

We run the Center for Applied Rationality, AMA

What mistakes have you made at CFAR that you have learned the most from? (Individually or as an organization?)

We run the Center for Applied Rationality, AMA

Thus spake Eliezer: "Every Cause Wants to be a Cult".

An organization promising life-changing workshops/retreats seems especially high-risk for cultishness, or at least pattern matches on it pretty well. We know the price of retaining sanity is vigilance. What specific, concrete steps are you at CFAR taking to resist the cult attractor?

We run the Center for Applied Rationality, AMA

Does CFAR "eat its own dogfood"? Do the cognitive tools help in running the organization itself? Can you give concrete examples? Are you actually outperforming comparable organizations on any obvious metric due to your "applied rationality"? (Why ain'tcha rich? Or are you?)

We run the Center for Applied Rationality, AMA

Which of CFAR's cognitive tools has had the greatest impact on your life personally? Can you give concrete examples?

We run the Center for Applied Rationality, AMA

The end of the Sequences, The Craft and the Community, concluded with "Go Forth and Create the Art!" Is that what CFAR is doing? Is anyone else working on this?

We run the Center for Applied Rationality, AMA

What can the LessWrong community do (or the broader rationality-aligned movement do) to help with CFAR's mission?

We run the Center for Applied Rationality, AMA

What cognitive tools can CFAR offer those who have already read Eliezer's Sequences/R:AZ?

The Sequences seemed more focused on epistemic rationality. I assume by "Applied Rationality", you mean the instrumental kind?

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