↑ comment by Dahlen ·
2013-09-20T03:26:28.826Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
My long overdue title suggestion: Rationality 2.0: A Less Wrong Guide to Beliefs, Biases and Bayesianism
Overall: I followed the title-subtitle format which seems very popular these days for pop-sci books. I tried to go for something broad enough to hint at the diversity of the material contained within the Sequences without giving the impression that the book is about anything and everything. 2.0 is nice and trendy and appeals to techies (who tend to gravitate towards such content). The general tone of the title is hopefully catchy and playful enough to appeal to a wide audience that would otherwise get intimidated by very formal, technical vocabulary.
Why "Rationality"? Because the most common word we use to refer to ourselves is "rationalist" and we refer to the totality of LW-specific memes as "rationality". However, including the word "rationalist" rather than "rationality" in the title might make people mentally associate the book with the sort of rationalism that opposes empiricism.
Why "Rationality 2.0"? Because many posts in the Sequences distinguish between Traditional Rationality and Bayesianism, and because we generally think of LW philosophy as improving on the traditional concept of rationality. It's bold enough to assert meaningful innovation, but not arrogant enough to not even allow the possibility of a 3.0.
Why "A Less Wrong Guide"? This one's probably the weakest part of the title. I chose it because it explicitly named the community in which the contents of the book originated, in a context that more or less rendered the meaning of "less wrong" relevant. The problematic aspect of it is that it carries the hidden implication that there have been several other, more wrong guides to "Beliefs, Biases, and Bayesianism". The word "guide" is there because the Sequences serve as didactic material to many.
Why "Beliefs, Biases and Bayesianism"? Because it has a nice alliterative ring to it, and because I think it captures the thematic core of Less Wrong. Besides, ennumerations are what you use to convey thematical breadth when you have a very limited word count; 3 listed items generally do the job. (You don't need 10 listed items.) It's ordered from the most common word to the least common. I had this in mind for the primary title, but I thought it might be better to relocate the phrase to the subtitle because "Bayesianism" doesn't immediately tell the average reader what the book might be about, which is the main function of a primary title.
Anyway, while I'm not completely assured that this is the best possible title for the Sequences out of all imaginable ones (although I think it is out of all the titles I've thought up so far), I can confidently say that this is how much you need to think about any given title for a work so important. Maybe even more. Every single word needs to be pondered carefully.