About Rationality Dojo

What is "Rationality"?

Rationality is the art of improving how we think.

There are thoughts that are about the world: theories, beliefs, gossip, judgements, stories, and more. Rationality is about how we manage these thoughts. Rationality is thinking about thinking. We are concerned about not just whether our thoughts are true, but whether the processes that we use to evaluate these thoughts could be improved.

Consider the case of cognitive bias. Science has shown that humans are predictably bad at thinking about certain things. One of the challenges of rationality is un-biasing. We seek to train ourselves not to fall into the same traps that others do. For instance, it has been widely shown that humans are naturally overconfident in their own abilities. To help protect ourselves from this bias we seek to practice the art of humility and unlearn the false-confidence that comes from the fundamental attribution error (and other things).

But rationality is more than just learning to avoid bias. Rationality is about maximizing our mental potential in all domains. It means gaining willpower and knowledge. It means training yourself to be the sort of person you want to be. For more on rationality, you can read the Twelve Virtues of Rationality, or What Do We Mean By "Rationality"?.

What is a Rationality Dojo?

The word dojo is Japanese. It derives from the word "do", which means "way", and the word "jo" which means "ground". A dojo is a place where the way of rationality is practiced.

Everyone has a mind. Everyone solves problems. Regardless of whether you are an accomplished particle physicist or a stay-at-home parent, your life is filled with mental challenges. How much time should you set aside for family, work, personal projects, or relaxation? How can you find a diet that keeps you healthy but doesn't drive you crazy? How do you decide who to vote for? How do you decide whether to change careers? These questions are just a few of the ocean of mental effort that all people struggle with.

Rationality dojo is not about finding the answers to these questions. We won't tell you who to vote for or what diet to use. Rationality dojo is about training, practicing, and growing, such that finding the answers to these questions is easy (or at least easier), now and in the future.

Everyone has a different body. Some people are bigger or naturally stronger. These people are naturally more capable in a fight. But just because they have an initial edge, doesn't mean that they cannot be defeated by someone who has put in the time and effort to become more skilled. The same goes for rationality. Rationality dojo is not just for particle-physicists, mathematicians, and brainiacs. It is for all people who reflect on their own skills and say "I want to become better!"

Why are you Invite Only?

Two reasons.

The first reason is that we're a new group. Right now we're oriented around establishing our identity, aims, systems, and core practices. During this influential time we want to keep the interests of the core members unpolluted by outside influence. New people are great, but sometimes they have ideas and desires which don't necessarily fit with our vision.

The second reason is that we're oriented around becoming more rational, not around helping society as a whole become more rational. There are public groups that do that sort of thing. It takes time and effort to get new members, especially those who are new to rationality, up to speed with where we are as a group.

This restriction is likely to change in the future, though there's a good chance that we'll keep membership somewhat restricted. In any case, if you're interested in coming, please send us an email. We're happy to invite those who are passionate about becoming stronger.