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LessWrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. The many thousands of posts however, are difficult to get into, and can feel quite overwhelming. This is my first attempt at an ordered list, with the aim of getting across the core ideas as concisely as possible. This guide is hopefully useful to someone who has a goal of getting into LessWrong - perhaps, someone who has read HpMoR and decided they need to be a bit more like Harry - or at least start thinking like him.

Before reading the posts though, I've added a list of talks. These are light and interesting talks about the sorts of content below, and these are probably the best place to start learning about rationality and LessWrong, even if you're not currently planning on working through the lists. If you'd like a few posts that don't require lots of reading, I'd recommend picking some of these posts, and this is a great example of LessWrong-style Rationality in action.

One of the main problems that I had, when I started reading the core archives of LessWrong, was that I didn't see how a lot of the ideas fit together, or where they were heading, which is one of the main reasons that I've written this intro. Once you've read all of this, if you're were to continue, you'd start reading through the sequences, and you'd instantly be able to see how it all fits together.

Suggestions for reading rate: For the Primers and the Front Kick sections, perhaps read one or two per day to let them sink in. For the Central Philosophy section, read at whatever rate you find comfortable. Forcing yourself to read isn't going to make the information seem interesting to you, and some of those articles are hard (and long). That's just one person's advice, do it differently as it suits, make sure to process them fully and enjoy :-)


Rationalist Talks

Luke Muehlhauser - Rationality

Julia Galef: The Straw Vulcan

Julia Galef: Rationality and the Future

Kenzi Amodei - Interview about CFAR

Anna Salamon - CFAR

Rationality Short Videos - Rationality


The Front Kick of Rationality

1) A Fable of Science and Politics

2) The Proper Use of Humility

3) The Modesty Argument

4) Tsuyoku Naritai! (I Want to Become Stronger)

5) Tsuyoku vs. the Egalitarian Instinct

6) The Third Alternative

7) The Meditation on Curiosity

8) The Bottom Line

9) Rationalization

10) The Proper Use of Doubt

11) Guessing the Teacher's Password

12) Science as Curiosity-Stopper

13) Conversation Halters

14) Cached Thoughts

15) Original Seeing

16) Philosophical Landmines

17) Feeling Rational

18) You Can Face Reality

19) Semantic Stopsigns

20) Knowing about Biases Can Hurt People

21) Hug the Query

22) Use Curiosity

23) Get Curious

Extra - The Principle of Charity and Inferential Gaps

1) Hindsight Bias

2) Hindsight Devalues Science

3) Fake Causality

4) Self-Anchoring

5) Illusion of Transparency: Why No One Understands You

7) Expecting Short Inferential Distances

8) Double Illusion of Transparency

9) Wiki Entry: Inferential Distance


The Central Philosophy of LessWrong

1) The Twelve Virtues

2) The Simple Truth

3) What do we mean by rationality?

4) The Useful Idea of Truth

5) Skill: The Map is Not the Territory

6) How You Make Judgements: The Elephant and its Rider

7) Your Evolved Intuitions

8) Intuition and Unconscious Learning

9) Rationality: Appreciating Cognitive Algorithms

10) Firewalling the Optimal from the Rational

11) When Intuitions are Useful

12) Philosophy by Humans 1: Concepts Don't Work That Way

13) Philosophy by Humans 2: Living Metaphorically

14) Philosophy by Humans 3: Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

15) What is evidence?

16) The Lens that Sees its Flaws

17) How Much Evidence Does it Take?

18) What is Bayesianism?

19) The Martial Art of Rationality

20) What Cost for Irrationality?

21) Your Rationality is My Business

22) Epistemic Viciousness

23) Secure Your Beliefs

24) No One Can Exempt You From Rationality's Laws

25) Cognitive Biases Potentially Affecting Judgement of Global Risk

26) Philosophy Needs to Trust Your Rationality Even Though it Shouldn't


Epistemic Rationality Primer


1) Universal Fire

2) Universal Law

3) Your Strength as a Rationalist

4) Focus Your Uncertainty

5) The Virtue of Narrowness

6) Guessing the Teacher's Password

7) Tsuyoku Naritai!

8) Think Like Reality

9) Making Beliefs Pay Rent

10) Taboo Your Words

11) Replace the Symbol with the Substance

12) Fallacies of Compression

13) Fake Explanations

14) How Much Evidence Does It Take?

15) Hindsight Devalues Science

16) Scientific Evidence, Legal Evidence, Rational Evidence

17) Einstein's Arrogance

18) Wiki Entry: Locate the Hypothesis

19) Wiki Entry: Privileging the Hypothesis

20) Privileging the Question

21) But There's Still a Chance, Right?

22) The Fallacy of Gray

23) Absolute Authority

24) Infinite Certainty

25) The Proper Use of Humility


Instrumental Rationality Primer

Part 1

1) Cached Thoughts

2) Never Leave Your Room

3) Cached Selves

4) The 'Outside-the-Box' Box

5) Generalising from One Example

6) Adaptation-Executors, no Fitness-Maximisers

7) Evolutionary Psychology

8) What is Signalling, Really?

9) The Evolutionary-Cognitive Boundary

10) The Two-Party Swindle

11) Guilt (Another Gift Nobody Wants)

12) The Curse of Identity

13) Are Beliefs Like Clothes?

14) Learned Blankness

15) Procrastination

16) How to Measure Anything

17) How to Beat Procrastination

18) My Algorithm for Beating Procrastination

19) Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others

20) A Modest Proposal

21) Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic

22) Levels of Action

23) Approving Reinforces Low-Effort Behaviours

24) That Other Kind of Status

25) Urges vs. Goals: The analogy to anticipation and belief


Part 2

1) The Bottom Line

2) Conjunction Fallacy

3) Positive Bias: Look Into the Dark

4) Confirmation Bias

5) Availability

6) Anchoring and Adjustment

7) The Affect Heuristic

8) Burdensome Details

9) The Halo Effect

10) Correspondence Bias

11) Are Your Enemies Innately Evil?

12) Keep Your Identity Small (Paul Graham)

13) Fake Causality

14) Belief in Belief

15) Rationalization

16) Your Intuitions Aren't Magic

17) The Allais Paradox

18) Zut Allais!

19) Circular Altruism

20) Scope Insensetivity

21) The "Intuitions" Behind "Utilitarianism"

22) Knowing About Biases Can Hurt People

23) Something to Protect

24) Newcomb's Problem and Regret of Rationality

25) Rationality is Systematized Winning

26) We Change Our Minds Less Often Than We Think

27) Memetic Tribalism

28) Priming and Contamination

29) No One Can Exempt You From Rationality's Laws

30 A Sense That More Is Possible


Welcome to Bayesianism

1) Bayes' Theorem Illustrated (My Way)

2) Mind-Projection Fallacy

3) Probability is in the Mind

4) You're Entitled to Arguments, But Not That (Particular) Proof

5) An Intuitive Explanation of Solomonoff Induction

6) Occam's Razor

7) A Priori

8) Being Wrong About Your Own Subjective Experience

9) Reality is Weirdly Normal

10) The Power of Positivist Thinking

11) The Trouble With Good

12) The Good News of Situationist Psychology

13) The Power of Agency

14) Can the Chain Still Hold You?

15) Action and Habit

16) Break Your Habits: Be More Empirical

17) Make Your Training Useful

18) Seven Shiny Stories

19) How to Seem and Be Deep

20) Leave a Line of Retreat

21) Changing Your Metaethics

21) Confidence Levels Inside and Outside an Argument

22) Disguised Queries

23) Wiki Entry: Akrasia

24) Compartmentalization in Epistemic and Instrumental Rationality

25) Understanding Your Understanding

26) Hold Off On Proposing Solutions

27) Lost Purposes

28) How Not To Lose An Argument

29) How An Algorithm Feels From The Inside

30) Consequentialism FAQ

31) Eight Short Studies on Excuses

32) A Theory of Identity

33) Diseased Thinking: Dissolving Questions About Disease

34) Your Inner Google

35) Useful Questions Repository

36) Self-Fulfilling Correlations

37) The Bias You Didn't Expect

38) Self-Improvement or Shiny Distraction

39) Explicit and Tacit Rationality

40) Three Ways CFAR has changed my view of rationality


Post-LessWrong: What Rationalists Get Up To

Effective Altruism

The Why and How of Effective Altruism

How to Save the World

Intelligence Explosion

Intelligence Explosion

Facing the Intelligence Explosion

AI and the Intelligence Explosion

A Non-Technical Introduction to AI Risk

Global Risk

General

Best of Rationality Quotes 2012

Becoming a Rationalist - Podcast with Eliezer Yudkowsky

Heuristics and Biases