Habits for living a more rational life

From the Center for Applied Rationality, a "Checklist of Rationality Habits" intended to help you spot when you're tricking yourself. One of my favorites is the next-to-last: "I try not to treat myself as if I have magic free will; I try to set up influences (habits, situations, etc.) on the way I behave, not just rely on my will to make it so."

The CFAR promotes research on cognitive biases to help improve evidence-based decision-making, a favorite subject of mine. Their FAQ sets out a project aimed at figuring out, essentially, what kind of dumb mistakes we habitually make because of the weird way we've been wired by evolution, and figuring out how to catch ourselves while making those dumb mistakes so we don't feel dumb and sad, later.

* I notice when I and my brain seem to believe different things (a belief-vs-anticipation divergence), and when this happens I pause and ask which of us is right. (Recent example from Anna: Jumping off the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas in a wire-guided fall. I knew it was safe based on 40,000 data points of people doing it without significant injury, but to persuade my brain I had to visualize 2 times the population of my college jumping off and surviving. Also, my brain sometimes seems much more pessimistic, especially about social things, than I am, and is almost always wrong.)

* When facing a difficult decision, I try to reframe it in a way that will reduce, or at least switch around, the biases that might be influencing it. (Recent example from Anna’s brother: Trying to decide whether to move to Silicon Valley and look for a higher-paying programming job, he tried a reframe to avoid the status quo bias: If he was living in Silicon Valley already, would he accept a $70K pay cut to move to Santa Barbara with his college friends? (Answer: No.))

Checklist of Rationality Habits

(Image: Trashbulb, EJ Posselius, CC-BY-SA)