Most readings suggested here fulfill the “insight-a-minute” criteria. As a result, many of those are dense in information and some of the ideas presented may be significantly challenging or disorienting.
Outside of their great literary and informational value, these readings also serve as introductory material to the field of Existential Risk Prevention as catalyzed by Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, Cambridge’s Center for the Study of Existential Risk, MIT’s Future of Life Institute, and UC Berkeley’s Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence.
Remember that whatever you read here does not change reality, only your understanding of it. To keep a healthy mind, listen to yourself and take breaks (ideally) before it is necessary for you to do so, spend time with those you love, and take time to recalibrate your thinking against that of reasonable people you know.
- by Scott Alexander – Online & Offline. Free. (150+ hrs). A blog about medicine, philosophy, politics, and futurism which distinguishes itself with its nearly irreproachable methodology, its witty literary style, but most of all with its exceptionally high epistemic standards.
The US psychiatrist Scott Alexander is renowned for exploring issues in great depth in SSC through the lens of applied rationality, bridging the gap between logical abstract reasoning, contemporary understanding of human cognition, and concrete everyday issues.
If you’re interested in this blog but don’t know where to start, try reading any of these posts that sound interesting to you:
- Beware The Man Of One Study
- Meditations on Moloch
- I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup
- Book Review: Albion’s Seed
- Nobody Is Perfect, Everything Is Commensurable
- The Control Group Is Out Of Control
- Considerations On Cost Disease
- Archipelago And Atomic Communitarianism
- The Categories Were Made For Man, Not Man For The Categories
- Who By Very Slow Decay
The Library of Scott Alexandria, a compilation of Scott Alexander’s most influential articles, is often considered to be the most accessible resource to start reading SSC. All posts up until June 2019 are now available for offline reading in epub and mobi format.
- by Eliezer Yudkowsky – Online & Offline. Free. (50 hrs). A collection of six volumes further broken down into 300+ essays, bringing forth the science underlying human irrationality in an attempt to fundamentally improve critical reasoning for generations to come.
- Lays foundational conceptions of belief, evidence, and understanding.
- Reviews the systematic biases and common excuses which cause us to believe false things.
- Offers guidance on how to change our minds and how to use language effectively.
- Depicts the nature of human psychology with reference evolution.
- Clarifies the kind of morality we can have in a reducible, physical.
- Repeatedly reminds us that confusion and mystery exist only in our minds.
Bringing cognitive biases into light one by one, the decision theorist and researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky carefully works his way through the science — and the art — of human rationality. Topics range from computer science, physics, philosophy, to the future of artificial intelligence, and are interlaced with a mix of fables, argumentative essays, and personal vignettes. A most comprehensive review of this book is available here.
The comprehensive work:
- by Kevin Simler & Robin Hanson
More info coming soon. But for now, enjoy these few links:
Here’s a Ted Talk given by its author, a detailed outline, and a thorough review of the book.
- The online resource on epistemic and applied rationality. LessWrong is a community dedicated to improving reasoning and decision-making by developing and practicing the art of human rationality. To that end, LessWrong is a place to learn to hold true beliefs, as well as to apply one’s rationality to real-world problems.
- Having unusually high standards of discourse with an emphasis on curiosity, truth-seeking, critical self-reflection, intellectual collaboration, and the long attention spans required to actually think through complicated ideas.
- Being open to unusual ideas and being willing to doubt conventional wisdom. Curiosity and truth-seeking require a willingness to sometimes consider positions which are strange by ordinary standards, and in some cases, these positions will turn out to be credible. As a result of this openness, some unconventional ideas are prevalent on LessWrong and many more are entertained.
- Making intellectual progress by building on a large number of communally-shared background ideas and concepts.
- What is rationality and why care about it? Try Your intuitions are not magic and The Cognitive Science of Rationality.
- Curious about the mind? You might enjoy How An Algorithm Feels From The Inside and The Apologist and the Revolutionary.
- Keen on self-improvement? Remember that Humans are not automatically strategic.
- Care about argument and evidence? Consider Policy Debates Should Not Appear One-Sided and How To Convince Me that 2 + 2 = 3.
- Interested in how to use language well? Be aware of 37 Ways That Words Can Be Wrong.
- Want to teach yourself something? We compiled a list of The Best Textbooks on Every Subject.
- Like probability and statistics? Around here we’re fans of Bayesianism, you might like this interactive guide to Bayes’ theorem (hosted on Arbital.com).
- Of an altruistic mindset? We recommend On Caring.
- Into Artificial Intelligence? Peruse The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Deep Learning and Disentangling arguments for the importance of AI Safety.
- A history buff? Ask Why everything might have taken so long.
- Scientifically-minded? Absorb Hindsight Devalues Science and Coordination Problems in Evolution: Eigen’s Paradox.
- Philosophically-inclined? Ponder Less Wrong Rationality and Mainstream Philosophy and Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline.
- Concerned with communication and culture? Let everyone know Yes Requires the Possibility of No and about Conversational Cultures: Combat vs Nurture.
- Attention and addiction in the modern age? Focus on Noticing the Taste of the Lotus and Is Clickbait Destroying Our General Intelligence?
- Value self-care? Relax with Rest Days vs Recovery Days and Slack.
- Like to see a rational treatment of stereotypically non-rational topics? Attend to My attempt to explain Looking, insight meditation, and enlightenment in non-mysterious terms.
Specifically, LessWrong differs from other online platforms by:
Depending on your inclination, you can skim LessWrong’s FAQ, read the core sequences on the Library Page, delve straight into the community’s Discussion Forum, discover current open questions on the Research Platform, or peek at the Community Page for in-person events. Finally, you can use GreaterWrong as an alternative way to browse LessWrong with a focus on enhanced accessibility, speed, and usability.
To get a feel for what LessWrong is about, here’s a selection of LessWrong posts which might appeal to you:
- by Robert B. Cialdini
More info coming soon.
- by Philip E. Tetlock & Dan Gardner
More info coming soon.
- by Robin Hanson
More info coming soon.