Lesswrong:Aboutpage

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Thinking and deciding are central to our daily lives. The Less Wrong community aims to gain expertise in how human brains think and decide, so that we can think and decide more successfully. We use the latest insights from cognitive science, social psychology, probability theory, and decision theory to improve our understanding of how the world works and what we can do to achieve our goals.

Want to know if your doctor's diagnosis is correct? It helps to understand Bayes' Theorem. Want to make a plan for achieving your goals? It helps to know the ways in which we don't know our own desires. Want to make the world a better place? It helps to know about the cognitive bias called 'scope insensitivity', and that some charities are more efficient than others.

We discuss and practice these skills on the main blog, in the discussion area, and in regular regular meetups around the world.

Where to start

If you want a sampling of the content on the main blog, you could read some posts on beliefswordscognitive biasesevidence, probabilitydecision theory, excuses, task avoidancereductionismevolutionquantum physics, ethicspoliticsdisease, and procrastination.

To read Less Wrong systematically, read the Sequences, especially the Core Sequences. They are somewhat long, but worth it. Some people consider the Sequences the most important work they have ever read.

Less Wrong makes heavy use of previously introduced topics for leverage, so you may need to consult the Concepts and Jargon pages on the Less Wrong Wiki. Also see the Less Wrong FAQ.

How to participate

Introduce yourself to the community here.

Start by posting comments and discussion posts. To publish a discussion post, click 'Create New Article' and select 'Less Wrong Discussion' next to 'Post to' at the bottom of the page. As with Redditt or Digg, users can vote comments and posts up or down, and this adds or subtracts 1 point to a user's karma score. Generally, if your comment or post is on-topic, thoughtful, and shows that you're familiar with the Sequences, your comment or post will be upvoted. You need 2 karma points to publish discussion posts. Comments downvoted below -3 will be hidden for most users; you can change this setting under 'Preferences'.

Once you have 20 or more karma points, you're allowed to make posts to the main community blog. (Click 'Create New Article' and change 'Post to' to 'Less Wrong'.) This section is intended for posts about rationality theory or practice that display well-edited writing, careful argument, and new material. Read the posts linked under 'Where to Start' (above) to get an idea for what types of posts are appropriate for the main community blog. Upvotes and downvotes in this section are worth 10 points. If your post is of especially high quality and popularity, it may be promoted by an editor to the front page. (Note that we have a gentleman's agreement to avoid political discussions.)

To meet other rationality enthusiasts in meat-space, look for a Less Wrong meetup group in your area, or start your own!

As you become familiar with the site, you may also want to contribute by expanding and editing the Less Wrong Wiki.

Community norms

Twelve Virtues of Rationality summarizes the core norms of Less Wrong:

There are also community norms about how to use words. For example: don't sneak in connotations or endlessly debate definitions. See 37 Ways Words Can Be Wrong.

About Less Wrong

In November 2006, Eliezer Yudkowsky began posting about rationality on Robin Hanson's blog Overcoming Bias. In February 2009, Yudkowsky's posts were used as the seed material for a new community website, Less Wrong. Overcoming Bias remains Less Wrong's "sister site."

Less Wrong is associated with the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University and the Singularity Institute, where Yudkowsky is a senior researcher. The site is hosted and maintained by Trike Apps.