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Introduction to Applied Rationality

Identify bugs that consistently stop you from becoming a better version of yourself and then learn about frameworks/techniques helpful for resolution of those bugs.

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Club Goals

What is rationality? Is it just about removing our biases to form accurate mental models of the world? Or can the path towards rationality give us tools to resolve bugs that stop us from becoming a better version of ourselves?

During the course of six weeks, we will explore the art of Applied Rationality (sometimes called Instrumental Rationality) in the context of improving our lives. After understanding what "rationality" really means, we will go on a journey to explore frameworks and techniques, that will help us achieve what we most want, given the physical and mental resources available to us.

Schedule

Week 1

  • What do we mean by Applied Rationality?
  • Understanding Type1 vs Type2 thinking and conflicts or frictions between them.
  • What are bugs and why are they useful to document?
  • Bug Hunting - We will spend some time creating a bug-list which will become the raw material for the techniques.

Week 2: Making Better Plans

  • Why do we struggle with our plans?
  • How can we use the art of "premortem" to bulletproof our plans?
  • Backplanning

Week 3: Making Habits

  • What are habits? Understanding the Context-Cue-Response Model
  • Making new habits
    • Trigger Action Plans (TAPs) - If Trigger X, Perform Action Y
    • Scaling Up - Fighting the intention-action gap

Week 4: Breaking Habits

  • Let's go upstream
  • Discovering existing TAPs for unwanted habits
  • Disrupting Cues and Removing Triggers

Week 5: Goal Action Mapping

  • We unpack our goals/desires and re-evaluate the actions associated with them. Are there more effective actions to achieve goals that regularly burden us?

Week 6: Recursive 5 minute timers

  • Final week! We discuss a simple but powerful technique to quickly resolve all kinds of bugs on our list.
  • We reflect on this journey and discuss where to go from here

Artifacts

Resolve at least one bug or a friction in your life. Some examples: 1) Install a TAP to form a meditation or daily writing habit 2) Use recursive 5-min timers to avoid procrastination on boring but important tasks 3) "Premortem" the plans you keep making but unable to follow through

Length/Commitment

This club will run for 6 weeks and we will meet once a week for an hour. During each week, we will pick an item or two from our bug-list and use a technique or framework discussed in that week to resolve those bugs.

I will also be providing links to blog posts and/or research papers relevant to the ideas that we will discuss and act on. Feel free to read these before the call (not absolutely essential).

Inspiration

The idea for this club came after reading the free handbook provided by Center for Applied Rationality, along with few posts on lesswrong. One can read all these useful resources and test them all alone but hopefully discussing/experimenting with these techniques as a group will give us better insight on how to rationally think about and resolve our personal bugs.

Who Should Sign Up

This club is for you if:

  • You struggle to make new habits or break old ones (that reduce your wellbeing)
  • You like the idea of optimizing your actions
  • You enjoy thinking about thinking
$50
6 weeksUp to 12 learners
Prerequisites
  • Curiosity to understand your own thinking
  • Interest in optimizing your decision making

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