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Meet Up: September Rationality Dojo: Questioning and analyzing beliefs

Chriswaterguy 13 September 2017 07:21AM

WHEN: 17 September 2017 03:30:00PM (+1000)

WHERE: Henley Club, Melbourne

Questioning and analyzing beliefs, after they come to your attention.

Drawing on psychology research, and practical application inspired by the CFAR workshops, we discuss how to improve the accuracy of our view of the world and create habits to achieve our goals.

The next section of the CFAR rationality checklist is "Questioning and analyzing beliefs (after they come to your attention)." See http://www.rationality.org/resources/rationality-checklist

This will be a lightly facilitated group discussion, followed by an exercise in (attempted) rational thought, so wear your thinking caps. As always, we may draw on the content in the Less Wrong Sequences and top books in relevant fields. If you'd like to think ahead - and sound smarter ;-) - see section 2 of http://www.rationality.org/resources/rationality-checklist

The starting point for discussion is a list of skills and habits suggested by CFAR. The next section is "Questioning and analyzing beliefs (after they come to your attention)." Are these effective ways to analyse our beliefs? Do you practise these habits?

  • I notice when I'm not being curious.

  • I look for the actual, historical causes of my beliefs, emotions, and habits; and when doing so, I can suppress my mind's search for justifications, or set aside justifications that weren't the actual, historical causes of my thoughts.

  • I try to think of a concrete example that I can use to follow abstract arguments or proof steps.

  • When I'm trying to distinguish between two (or more) hypotheses using a piece of evidence, I visualize the world where hypothesis #1 holds, and try to consider the prior probability I'd have assigned to the evidence in that world, then visualize the world where hypothesis #2 holds; and see if the evidence seems more likely or more specifically predicted in one world than the other

  • I try to consciously assess prior probabilities and compare them to the apparent strength of evidence.

  • When I encounter evidence that's insufficient to make me "change my mind" (substantially change beliefs/policies), but is still more likely to occur in world X than world Y, I try to update my probabilities at least a little.


  • An inquiring mind, and observations you may have on the topic.
  • Perhaps a snack or drink to share. (Bonus points for healthy choices.)
  • Interested friends.


3:30pm to 6:30pm (and then optional dinner). Come early to catch up, and the meeting proper begins at 4pm sharp.

At about 6:30pm some of us generally head for dinner nearby, and you are welcome to join us.


The Henley Club Level 1, 8 Rankins Lane, Melbourne CBD https://goo.gl/maps/vmFL6JeKQSD2

It's down a lane (off Little Bourke, near Elizabeth) and one flight up a stairwell. If you have trouble, text or call Adam on 0412 064 542.


The Less Wrong Melbourne Rationality Dojos are a chance to polish your planning, motivational, critical thinking and other rationality skills. We welcome new members who are interested in exploring rationality. We're "aspiring rationalists" and always open to learn.

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