Recently new member Danohk, a self proclaimed literalist xian, said, "I am a man of reason."
I giggled about that for a little while and then asked him what that meant to him. What is
a man of reason? I do not believe he answer that question. At least, if he did, I missed it.
But it made me think about what that meant. If I call my self a rationalist, what specifically does that mean? I had some vague feelings what that meant but no satisfactory answer. So, being a rationalist
, I looked into it more.
According to the Center for Applied Rationality, it is succinctly put as: Rationality = Logic + Probability Theory + Rational Choice Theory
That didn't quite do it for me. Or at least, I did not know what all those things meant. I looked to their subsidiary site, Less Wrong. There it said, "rationality is the study of general methods for good decision-making, especially where the decision is hard to get right."
Further down it says "Rationality is also the art of how to systematically come to know what is true. " Oh, heck yes. That is it. While it is still more general, that is the core of it. How to know what is true.
That page had more specifics on what techniques were used so that it could be systematic. It had links to whole pages of instruction. It talked about the built-in brain processes that hinder perfect rationality which are so prevalent they have names, like confirmation bias.
Here are 11 core principles of the rationalist: http://lesswrong.com/lw/1ht/11_core_rationalist_skills/
There is a lot more at the site. Check out the sequences, which I may have posted before.
Let's talk about this stuff.