NYC meetup group
Being rational in an irrational world is incredibly lonely. Our thought processes are fundamentally different from those around us.
Rationalists are still human, and we still have basic human needs. Beyond mere physical survival, one of the most important human needs is being part of a community of like-minded individuals. The only factors which correlate to any degree with happiness are genetics, health, work satisfaction and social life. Social life actually gets listed three separate times: as social activity, relationship satisfaction and religiosity. Rationalists tend to be less socially adept on average, and this can make it difficult to obtain the full rewards of social interaction. However, once rationalists learn to socialize with each other, they also become increasingly social towards everyone more generally.
This improves your life. A lot.
The Less Wrong NYC meetup group is a group of friends to enjoy life alongside, while we dance ecstatically until sunrise, actively embarrass ourselves at karaoke, get lost in the woods, and jump off waterfalls. Poker, paintball, parties, go-karts, concerts, camping... this is a community where a rationalist can live in truth and be accepted without judgment, where feedback can be given and received.
The origin of the NYC chapter was the April 24th, 2009 meetup that Robin Hanson organized when he came to the city for a prediction markets conference. Approximately 15 people attended over the course of the night, and it was agreed that this was way too much fun not to do on a regular basis. Will Ryan handed out business cards to everyone there and created a mailing list. Thus Overcoming Bias NYC was born.
It was clear from the very beginning that Jasen Murray was the person most interested in seeing this happen, so he became the organizer of the group for the first year of its existence. At first the times and locations were impromptu, but in August Jasen made the brilliant move of precommitting to be at a specific time and place for a minimum of two hours twice per month. Because enough of us liked Jasen and wanted to hang out with him anyway, several people began showing up every time and a regular meetup was established. Going forward, we tried a combination of social meetups, focused discussions and game nights. Jasen also attempted to shift coordination from the mailing list to the Meetup.com group, but Meetup is not a great mailing list and people were loath to use multiple services. That Meetup group now serves as our public face.
In April 2010, Jasen departed to run the Visiting Fellows program at SIAI, and Will Ryan became the group's current organizer. A number of changes went into effect: meetups became weekly (with game nights every other week), focused discussions addressed solving a specific problem instead of general theory, and extended discussion of AGI/FAI was tabooed. The group also moved the majority of the meetups from a public diner to a private residence, which avoided a lot of hassles with loud crowds, ordering of food, etc. These changes marked the transition to a social group focusing on practical life benefits. June brought two more key changes: we began to hold strategy sessions, on request, to help members optimize their lives, and Will Ryan started hugging people, which began a cascade of increasing physical contact. That summer brought an increased interest in skill sharing, reduced game night frequency, and specific topics at meetups. That fall the group began being used more for discussions, and sharing social events of mutual interest, using the group to coordinate activities together outside of just the weekly meetups.
Then, in October, things began to accelerate. Will Ryan told everyone on the list to respond or be removed, to get an idea of numbers and to galvanize the core membership. Several members broke off old relationships and some of them entered new ones within the group. More women started attending the group, when it had traditionally been very heavily male-dominated. There was more contact with the west coast rationalists, including visits by Jasen and Michael Vassar and an extended stay by [Divia], which brought valuable new memes to the community. Self-reported levels of fun and happiness began to radically increase. Mailing list discussions turned towards asking for practical advice. The meetups took on a self-improvement focus, with weekly goal-setting and accountability. Andrew Rettek began a public lecture series presenting the Sequences. Demand for more-than-weekly meetups grew...
If you're interested in attending a meetup, introduce yourself on the relevant Google Group mailing list for the address and directions.
For general discussion, social activities, and games nights.
- Weekly, Tuesday, 7-11pm, Private Residence
- Mailing list: Main Google Group
For active self-improvement via goal-setting, commitment, and reinforcement, and getting things done.
- Weekly, Thursday, 7-11pm, Private Residence
- Mailing list: Self Improvement Group
Columbia Cognitive Collective
For discussion of rationality topics related to the sequences / Columbia University student education group.
- Weekly, Sundays, Columbia University Campus
- Mailing list: Columbia Group
Sarah Constantin, SarahC
Andrew Rettek, mycroft65536
Will Ryan, Cosmos
Zvi Mowshowitz, Zvi