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)
Watch the skies! The peak of the Perseid meteor shower takes place overnight tonight! The bright quarter Moon will limit the number of shooting stars you’ll see but you can still expect around 15-20 per hour depending on where you’re at. The meteors are debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle burning up in Earth’s atmosphere at speeds […]
“The U.S. has reached a landmark of sorts in its so far not very successful battle with the virus that causes Covid-19 — most Americans now know someone who has been infected,” writes Justin Fox at Bloomberg, about coronavirus social data from Navigator Research, shown above.
Researchers successfully revived ancient microbes, some more than 100 million years old, that were buried in the seafloor. During an expedition to the South Pacific Gyre, the scientists from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and their colleagues drilled into the ocean sediment almost 6,000 meters below the surface. “Our main question […]
Considering the state of our world, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to find lots and lots of people pushed to their breaking point. Anxiety and stress are often constant companions during the best of times. But now, with fear and frustration running rampant, it’s easy to be subsumed by all the distractions and […]
Most of us aren’t constantly beset by poor posture. But all it takes is some subtle misalignment while you’re doing serious hours behind the wheel driving or working away at a desk to do a real number on your back. In fact, most of us are so unaware of the mechanics of good posture that […]
From ordering from Amazon to paying bills over the web to something as simple as bottled water, we’re all hooked on modern convenience. We can’t help it. There are just too many modern world advances that save us too much time not to become a creature of comfort and go the easy route. Even if […]