Rationality Recap

“Everything happens for a reason you make up afterwards.”


History is full of geniuses who achieved almost unimaginable feats of brilliance and ingenuity. But it’s also full of fools who went utterly and spectacularly wrong. Sometimes the geniuses and the fools were the same people! And for all of those wrong people, the really scary part is how certain they all were of their rightness.

If even history’s greatest geniuses can be spectacularly wrong, what hope is there for the rest of us? How can I trust myself to know anything with conviction, when the past is so littered with examples of even our greatest thinkers going wrong?

We may be doomed to be just as wrong as previous generations, but I think we have the tools to do better. We’ve learned so much about the type of beliefs that we’re in danger of being wrong about, and about the pitfalls of reasoning. We can improve! In these “Rationality Recap” posts, I’d like to list off a few of my favorite strategies/concepts that I’ve come across. Some of this, I picked up from Eliezer Yudkowsky’s sequences on LessWrong, or from the adjacent rationality sites. I first read them years ago, so my half-remembered recaps won’t be adequate. I’ll try to find and provide links to the source posts where there is much better info.

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