About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Rationally Speaking podcast: Applied Rationality

You've heard plenty about biases: the thinking errors the human brain tends to make. But is there anything we can do to make ourselves *less* biased?

In this episode, Massimo and Julia discuss what psychological research has learned about "de-biasing," the challenges involved, and the de-biasing strategies Julia is implementing at her organization, the Center for Applied Rationality.

Julia's pick: Dan Ariely's blog

Massimo's pick: "Measuring the Evolution of Contemporary Western Popular Music"


  1. You should have a link so that I can just click and subscribe to your podcast via iTunes (or whatever). Which I'll do shortly. But, going on just the blurb here I'd say that you can't do it on your own.

    I'd think that you have to have someone else to bounce ideas off and to call you out when you reach irrational conclusions. In other words, I believe, rationality is the result of a community of individuals and not something just one persona can do.

    Maybe one person could, in theory, but it seems really unlikely to me. The intuitions and biases we've evolved to survive are just too strong. But even if you have a community working on a rationalist project it is still easy for us to get caught into group thinking or deferring to authority too much. So you need a particular kind of community or social institution, with the right values or social norms to promote rationalism. Thinking rationally is hard and it took us a long time to discover the scientific method.

    As a corollary then, it is easy to lose that kind of community and sink back into fear and superstition.

  2. I hope there is not too much LW/Yuddite propaganda in this episode.

  3. Will need to meet this Yudkowsky fellow one day, His Dad was a good friend of my brother's and we called him 'Kow' While I did not know his Dad well, I remember he had a reputation for being very intelligent. I followed David Chalmers' work for a while, and saw he was sucked into this Singularity thing (plausible, but why start a club about it??) where lo and behold I find a college acquaintance of mine was helping fund. He is Brad Templeton. Unlike Al Gore, Brad did not invent the internet but did have a lot to do with opining on the best format for the x.y.z address or domain name format esp. the dots. So its clear to me who the driving force is behind the singularity and less wrong. But really curious who is driving funding for this 'rationality' stuff


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