Help! Name suggestions needed for Rationality-Inst!

post by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-01-28T02:24:19.621Z · score: 22 (24 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 299 comments

The Singularity Institute wants to spin off a separate rationality-related organization.  (If it's not obvious what this would do, it would e.g. develop things like the rationality katas as material for local meetups, high schools and colleges, bootcamps and seminars, have an annual conference and sessions in different cities and so on and so on.)

We can't think of a name for this organization.

We can't think of any names that seem good enough to be audience-tested.

We don't have any ideas good enough that we'd want to mention them in this post.



Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by markette · 2012-01-28T04:06:48.121Z · score: 26 (30 votes) · LW · GW

One obvious question: when is the name most important? When first heard; Introductions.

Some common names take the form of "[identifier] [word for a group]" or similar, eg: [Rationality] [Institute]

Use online thesauruses to find synonyms for good words, make long lists of words to combine.

Google how to come up with good names, skim chapters in marketing textbooks for meta-ideas.

Don't react fast/naturally (eg: "the name Waterline is a clever meaningful in-group signal and sounds pretty."), ask yourself how your target will react (eg: "what's that, whale environmentalists?").

Who are your targets? Intelligent ambitious young men or their uninterested 45 year old mothers? Academics? From which field? etc.

Common reaction to mention of the group will be to assume their arrogance (suggesting they can teach smartness, that they have smartness), behaving guarded but curious.

Suggestions: Insight House/ Bayesian House

Reaction: "what does bayesian mean?" it's the math (credibility+++) of how to decide (arrogance-) etc. Bring evidence into discussion if target identifies as being "logical" (young smart men).

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-01-28T05:18:49.318Z · score: 34 (40 votes) · LW · GW

Don't react naturally (eg: "Waterline is a clever meaningful in-group signal and sounds pretty"), ask yourself how your target will react (eg: "Oh, are they whale environmentalists?").

I think that consideration may be highly overestimated in the discussion here. Facebook isn't about faces, Twitter isn't about songbirds, google has little to do with the number "googol", The Apple Corporation isn't selling fruit... etc, etc.

A short pretty name to remember and be able to look up if you need to may be just as good as marketing. Something like "Waterline Institute" needs be clarified one ("they're talking about raising a metaphorical 'sanity waterline in the human population"), then it's a memorable enough name and visual alike.

But something like "Bayesian House" can only be clarified by making a long explanation about mathematical formulas... And it's not immediately memorable afterwards, because frankly it's just 'Bayes' is just a name, called after Thomas Bayes.

But honestly, I've never studied marketing or anything like that, so I may just be talking out of my ass here...

comment by markette · 2012-01-28T05:26:47.975Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Can't assume google/facebook/twitter were successful because of a master plan that hinged on their name; their success doesn't strongly imply they were named well. Anecdotally, facebook was originally "The Facebook", google was originally "Googol", Twitter was once "twttr", and Apple was named on a whim when nothing could be decided on.

Bayesian is an alien word, I still remember wondering what it was when I first saw it. Repeating a word/name aloud is the recommended way to remember them on first impression, and memorability matters, but encouraging that kind of memorability is a small factor anyway, just for the record.

Edit: Whether or not my ideas are good, I disagree that the importance of immediate reaction is overrated. It's hard to say precisely how it has been "rated" in the conversation, but I think it matters a lot in framing the ensuing seconds of conversation.

comment by Morendil · 2012-01-28T09:07:42.576Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Another useful question is: which existing organizations do you want to differentiate yourself from?

For instance there are already companies out there monetizing the "train your brain" promise, such as Lumosity (a name which has some accidental Less Wrong annotations), Mind Sparke, etc.

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2012-01-30T01:15:15.036Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Based on my research, "foundation", "Institute" and "center" are the most common nouns that are used in the names of nonprofits in approximately that order. "Center" might be inappropriate because the organization in question will probably not be based out of a single building.

In my view, the most important things are that the name should clearly communicate what the organization does, should not sound cultish, and should sound good in the same sentence as "the singularity Institute". (This may rule out "Institute" as well.)

Here are some names of mine. Many suggest the emphasis of System 2 over System 1. Others suggest improvements to the process of thinking itself, as opposed to being more correct than others about something.

  • The Better Decisions Foundation
  • The Deliberative Thought Foundation
  • The Foundation for Improved Decision-Making
  • The Foundation for Reflective Thought
  • The Foundation for Better Reasoning
  • The Careful Thinking Foundation
  • The Foundation for Everyday Rationality

And some clever and probably bad names:

  • The Slow Thinking Foundation
  • The Primate Debugging Group
  • Think Carefully
comment by adamisom · 2012-01-31T02:50:52.316Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If we take this--"One obvious question: when is the name most important? When first heard; Introductions."--seriously, then the simpler the better.

Hence, more descriptive names with a higher syllable count, like "deliberative thought foundation" or "foundation for improved decision-making" are inferior to names like "the better decisions foundation".

Another consideration: don't pick something obviously pretentious, like "the primate debugging group", nor something less obviously pretentious, like "the careful thinking foundation"---so what, that implies that I, let's say I'm an outsider, am not a careful thinker? On the other hand, "the better decisions foundation" isn't as pretentious. Or if it is, it's more acceptable because businesses are interested in better decisions (it's specific enough that the first thought isn't merely indignation).

Therefore, I upvoted for "The Better Decisions Foundation"

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2012-01-31T07:08:37.721Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"The Better Decisions Foundation" is my favorite of the names I suggested as well; that was why I put it first. I put the others mostly to give an idea of the possibilities that were out there, especially if someone wanted to do further brainstorming along the lines I did.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T04:38:43.564Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Suggestions: Insight House

I like "Insight". It alludes to "Incite", which is an exciting word that is related to the organization (definition- to give rise to, to urge into action, to stir up, etc). And it also can be broken into "in sight", which can be related to having your goals in sight, striving to reach for an attainable goal, etc.

So it's one word, with 3 positive connotations (Insight, Incite, and In Sight)

How about:

Sanity Insight
Rationality Insight

Insight Institute

Edited: Changed all "InSight" suggestions to "Insight", because I agree with markette's critique below.

comment by markette · 2012-01-28T04:45:16.601Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Forget cleverness for its own sake, optimize for the consequences.

someone reads "InSight", their brain says "oh, I get it, they combined insight and in sight. Their name is a pun." imagines suited marketing man. Where do you want to go for lunch?

Capturing that first thought and directing it somewhere useful is crucial

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T05:11:50.531Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're right.

Good word, bad capital "S".

I edited my suggestions to fix it.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-01-28T05:06:36.712Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I like "Insight" too, but probably not "InSight" as part of the name, feels a bit gimmicky, as markette says.

"Insight Institute" has nice alliteration.
"Applied Insight" has good connotations for caring about effectiveness, as opposed to mere philosophizing. It also has the same initials as "Artificial Intelligence" which I'm not sure if it's a minus or a plus.

comment by Larks · 2012-01-28T14:56:37.090Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Then they could use old "SIAI" headed notepaper to refer to the union of SI and AI!

comment by markette · 2012-01-28T05:18:50.269Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Applied Insight" [...] has the same initials as "Artificial Intelligence" which I'm not sure if it's a minus or a plus.

Can you imagine anyone's opinion being altered by such a thing? Its value rounds to zero (It's nonzero, but the smallest credit the human mind could give it is, I suspect, too much).

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-01-28T14:09:59.967Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I get your point -- but still: If something's initials mean something different, this means it effectively can't be referenced or googled by those initials.

Yeah, this is a minor point if the name is just two words, but still something to consider if someone has name ideas that include "Figuring Better Ideas", "Cognitive Insight Applications" or for that matter "Neural Augmentation and Methodical Bettering of Life Alliance" . :-)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T05:30:47.995Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Inciting Insight Inside is In Sight!

(Sorry, couldn't help myself...)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T11:36:30.127Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Insight" reminds me first of Consensus Buddhism. I'd think of anyone speaking of insight in general as selling some form of vipassana. See for example the very influential Insight Meditation Society.

comment by GuySrinivasan · 2012-01-28T06:47:21.116Z · score: 24 (26 votes) · LW · GW

Google has these things to say about naming organizations:

what makes a good organization name, how to name a business: short, sweet, easily pronounced, legal, alliterative if long, not prone to abbreviation, flexible, timeless, fits with other branding, not already in the dictionary with the same definition, contains a sticky consonant, surprising, seldom directly descriptive, melodious, "cool", distinct, fun to say, trademarkable, not redundant, not criminal or shady-sounding, not lurid, at most two words, not desperate, medieval, Spanish-sounding. visual element, positive connotation, associated with what you actually do, not numbered, not named for a person, not geographic, looks good printed, rememberable, no bad connotations, spellable, description of what you do in tagline rather than name, harder consonants.

OnStartups: How To Pick A Company Name:

Customer Survey

Once we narrowed the names to around 10, we did a formal customer survey to give our users the final say. Our customers were a great help with choosing the name. We wanted the survey to be fast and simple.

The questions we asked were:

  1. For the proposed company, rate the following names from 1 to 5 (where 1 is 'Hate it' and 5 is 'Love it') (we then listed the finalist names)

  2. Without going back to the previous page, please list as many of the names that you just rated as you can remember. (This question was intended to help us measure recall and spelling ease of each name)

  3. What do you think of when you see each of the following names? (We wanted candid thought - and we got them!! We also tallied up positive, negative, on topic and off topic answers. We wanted to find a name that people did not think of negatively and that also made them think of helping small businesses manage documents.)

  4. If you can think of any names that would be great for us let us know!

comment by AspiringRationalist · 2012-03-20T16:23:06.018Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Who are the customers?

comment by katydee · 2012-01-28T03:59:10.217Z · score: 24 (38 votes) · LW · GW

The Human Rationality Project.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-29T18:48:54.029Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

"Fuck, this doesn't look good for our species..."

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-28T15:41:52.841Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW


11: The AI dissolves the physical and psychological borders that separate people from one another and sucks up all their souls into a gigantic swirly red sphere in low Earth orbit.

-from the Friendly AI Critical Failure Table

More like it dissolves the question of identity in this case, amirite?

comment by katydee · 2012-01-28T17:19:14.073Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Snerk. I hadn't even thought of that connotation. I can't decide if I like the name more or less now!

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-29T14:42:26.371Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Definitely more for me, and its a good name anyway.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-01-29T20:18:47.922Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can someone explain to me what the joke is that got this comment so many upvotes and AI-joke replies?

comment by katydee · 2012-01-29T20:30:24.979Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

It wasn't a joke suggestion-- I actually like the name, and was thinking more in terms of drawing lines between this and the Human Genome Project when I originally wrote it. This comment was also highly upvoted before people pointed out the joke, though it may be that people were laughing in secret and there are more "funny upvotes" than "quality upvotes."

That being said, in the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, there is something called the Human Instrumentality Project. The FAI Critical Failure Table result linked is a reference to the goal of this project, which is (in)famous amongst fans of the show; I can't really say more without spoilers. Googling should provide a more complete overview if you don't get it.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-01-30T11:11:36.458Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-29T13:47:57.109Z · score: 21 (25 votes) · LW · GW
  • Decision Tree

  • Decision Tree Foundation.

comment by shokwave · 2012-01-29T23:43:07.584Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Combines [thing you do] with [nice sounding word], also lends itself to lots of nice logos.

comment by rysade · 2012-01-30T09:52:13.039Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

How about 'The Decision Tree'?

comment by lessdazed · 2012-01-30T20:51:57.426Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My favorite so far.

comment by shminux · 2012-01-30T21:20:30.185Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

While nicely sounding, it probably does not convey the relevant information to an "outsider". Particularly, this is something a straw Vulcan would do, make a perfectly logical decision based on lousy priors. It emphasizes process over goals, and so is susceptible to lost purposes.

I wonder if this suggestion can be modified to clarify the ultimate goal: to make the best decision possible, including digging up the best possible priors and testing the conclusions along the way. Unfortunately, my metaphor chest came up cringe-worthy: Decision Tree... Garden?, Cultivating Decision Tree?.

comment by lessdazed · 2012-01-30T21:28:24.169Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Decision Tree: Roots of Knowledge.

Decision Tree: Applied Wisdom.

Decision Tree: Our mascot is a thinly veiled rip-off of an Ent! Sweet!

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-30T23:51:51.679Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If I have understood you correctly, you think that rationality do not corresponds well to having a decision trees, but rather to the process of cultivation them?

I guess you could try to integrate that, but then you are running the risk of making it an in-group name, rather than actually convening some sketchy picture of what the institute is about.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-29T18:36:23.095Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I like these almost as much as like "Waterline".

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-28T02:51:31.095Z · score: 21 (39 votes) · LW · GW

I got a positive reception for "Waterline" in my comment here.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-01-28T03:06:52.912Z · score: 14 (22 votes) · LW · GW

The name should be meaningful or at least not confusing to the general population.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-01-28T03:31:50.478Z · score: 9 (19 votes) · LW · GW

That really sounds like an unnecessary constraint. It's not as if the only thing people are going to hear about the organisation is the name; presumably they'd also hear something about what it does.

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2012-01-30T00:22:09.414Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In my view, a name that doesn't need to come with an explanation is worth more than a name that makes for good in joke.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-01-30T03:20:02.391Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In my view, a name that doesn't need to come with an explanation is worth more than a name that makes for good in joke

False dichotomy. "Meaningful names are better than in-joke names" is not the same thing as "the name must necessarily be meaningful".

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-28T03:19:44.072Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW


comment by lessdazed · 2012-01-28T03:46:19.219Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

One friend of mine said that it was confusing not just because he didn't know why it was relevant, but because the word "Waterline" has no strong positive connotations.

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-01-28T03:20:23.297Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If the goal is to promote rationality, it seems counterproductive to have an offputting name...

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-28T03:24:15.229Z · score: 15 (19 votes) · LW · GW

"Waterline" isn't off-putting, just opaque. So are things like "Oxfam".

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-28T03:39:56.020Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Waterline makes me think of Landmark, seasteading, and Bond villains trying to drown the planet.

comment by erratio · 2012-01-28T04:20:04.698Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Don't forget Sea Org!

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T08:06:40.821Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW


comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T18:32:57.381Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Waterline makes me think of The Watchtower, Wedge Strategy, and Blackwater USA.

comment by komponisto · 2012-02-01T03:40:13.021Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I dislike opacity, myself. Also, I find "Oxfam" transparent.

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-01-28T03:27:00.499Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I expect it to be slightly off-putting. I could be wrong.

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-01-28T02:58:55.005Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think it would need to have a byline to at least give outsiders some idea of what it was about. But that is a really good name.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-28T03:03:38.596Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Practice Sanity"? "Expect the Likely"?

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-01-28T03:05:32.420Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I like the former. Not really the latter.

comment by atorm · 2012-01-28T23:20:08.853Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I like the latter as a tagline for something.

comment by siodine · 2012-01-28T03:12:40.367Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The Waterline Institute for the Study and Practice of Critical Thinking

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-01-28T03:14:58.226Z · score: 11 (15 votes) · LW · GW

The Waterline Institute for the Study and Practice of Rationality, or WISPR.

comment by atorm · 2012-01-28T23:19:47.999Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Someone mentioned Bond villains? I can't tell if it's too silly/menacing, or if it's ridiculously awesome.

comment by james_edwards · 2012-01-28T22:55:45.487Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How about "Groundswell"?

It refers to a kind of wave, as well as a change in people's views or behaviour (usually viewed positively). "Grounds" also has a relevant meaning as in "grounds to believe", without being a blatantly distasteful pun.

comment by adamisom · 2012-01-31T02:57:09.184Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that would be a great name, not /sarcasm

I don't mean to pick only on this proposed name, but it sounds like most commenters are seeing the naming ideas from the perspective of insiders, or from the perspective irrationally in love with their proposal.

There are probably dozens of names like Groundswell and Waterline that have clever connotations. Given humans' propensity to over-associate, this is hardly surprising. I do see a distinction, though, between the two: Waterline has a more immediate / clearer physical image, which is definitely a plus.

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-01-28T03:38:29.535Z · score: 20 (24 votes) · LW · GW

Less Wrong

The Modern Rationality Institute.

The institute for Bayesian Reasoning

Center for applied rationality.

The Applied Rationality Institute

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2012-01-28T11:12:51.559Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for "Center for Applied Rationality".

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-28T16:07:02.419Z · score: 20 (24 votes) · LW · GW

"The Eliezer Yudkowsky Center for Kids Who Can't Think Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too"

comment by cousin_it · 2012-01-28T17:59:27.660Z · score: 5 (13 votes) · LW · GW

"The Eliezer Yudkowsky center for promoting rationality" actually sounds like a nice and honest name to me.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T20:39:41.283Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


comment by bungula · 2012-01-29T20:25:37.472Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for "Less Wrong".

It's a perfectly good name for a website, and it's a perfectly good name for an institute.

comment by Jotto999 · 2012-02-12T23:19:38.923Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I like how Center for Applied Rationality sounds, though it might be too long. Or maybe that isn't a problem and suddenly the amount of times I type the word CAR would increase.

How about Colligate Institute? Though maybe Colligate is too obscure a word (Google Chrome's spell-checker has it underlined in red).

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-02-13T16:15:02.309Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Looks too much like a typo for "collegiate", which is a much more common word.

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-02-13T00:53:12.832Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Though maybe Colligate is too obscure a word (Google Chrome's spell-checker has it underlined in red).

I'd say its pretty obscure.

comment by Manfred · 2012-01-28T06:54:17.570Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

What do current notable-ish think tanks, seminar runners, and organized social groups call themselves? (Following markette's notation)

Think tanks:

[name of notable public figure or thinker] [word for group]
Hoover Institution
Cato Institute

[positive word with coded meaning] [word for group, can come first]
Center for American Progress
Heritage Foundation

[acronym] [not even a whole word]

[word for group] [thing you do]
Council on Foreign Relations
Center for Strategic and International Studies

Seminar runner names:

[modifier, optional] [thing you do] [word for a group]
National Seminars Group

[related word or phrase, spelling optional]
Career Potential

[broader group description] [word for group]
American Management Association

Organized social stuff:

[descriptive word or phrase]

[who you are] [word for a group]
Atheist Foundation

[nice-sounding word, relatedness optional] [word for a group, optional]
Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, etc. Club

[in-group signalling word or phrase]
Penny Arcade


If we go for a name template that has a lot of overlap between the three groups, I think the clear favorite is the prosaic [thing you do] [word for a group], bonus points if [thing you do] sounds like [who you are]. If direct description of rationality doesn't test well, a less literal alternative that still has good overlap is [nice-sounding word, relatedness open or coded] [word for a group].

Some top [word for a group] entries: Institute, Association, Foundation, Center, Group, Council.

comment by shminux · 2012-01-30T02:00:23.722Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

By the way, hope you are not trying to do branding by discussing it internally only. None of you are typical minds, so you may want to collect top 10 or top 100 best names and run it by your target audience, see what their impression is. Beta-test it, so to speak. (This forum barely counts as alpha-testing.)

comment by orthonormal · 2012-01-28T03:53:04.207Z · score: 17 (37 votes) · LW · GW

Best I've come up with so far:

The Institute for Advanced Sanity

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2012-01-28T15:36:54.176Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

too cute IMO

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-29T14:06:41.893Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Don't know if the pun is intended, but I suspect that some people - not familiar with LW - will take it for a sanitation initiative.

comment by Aleksei_Riikonen · 2012-01-28T03:57:59.247Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I like this. Or more generally, I like having "Advanced Sanity" in the name.

comment by orthonormal · 2012-01-28T04:03:14.646Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Of course, I then wondered if anyone else was using the phrase "Advanced Sanity" (and if I'd taken it from somewhere). The first few hits were all Eliezer on LW, and other people only seem to put together those words accidentally.

comment by Kevin · 2012-01-28T04:38:25.318Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I like that name in the abstract but worry about associations with mental health.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2012-01-28T05:14:41.698Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Even actual mental health gets "who are they to tell us what's sane and what isn't" reactions every now and then. An organization that doesn't start out with a massive positive reputation might fare worse.

comment by lessdazed · 2012-01-28T19:36:57.506Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Advanced Sanity" matches a strong comparative qualifier to a basic trait. While "sanity" has problems, as mentioned below, I think the phrase derives much of its power from its underlying pattern, which can be used in other suggestions.

comment by free_rip · 2012-01-30T05:55:20.351Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

First ones that come to mind with this structure:

Intelligent Winning

Calculated Success

Acting for Success

Intelligent Change

Rational Success

Purposeful Rationality

Purposeful Wisdom

Purposeful Thought

Purposeful Strategy

& whatever institute, foundation, center etc. bits people want to add on.

comment by dugancm · 2012-01-30T23:54:21.159Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Super Sapiens! ...I mean sapience.

Adroit Acumen

Elevated Erudition

Superb Sagacity

Crack Contemplation

comment by Manfred · 2012-01-28T05:52:34.718Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I like the bonus for people who know their Princeton. Maybe not as effective with average audiences, though - slightly weird, several syllables.

comment by endoself · 2012-01-28T17:54:06.498Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think that's a problem actually. We don't want to imply affiliation with them when that isn't the case.

comment by Solvent · 2012-01-28T09:39:26.474Z · score: 16 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Why not just call it Less Wrong, or some variation on that?

comment by curiousepic · 2012-01-29T00:48:06.496Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Have we heard a reason not to do so? It would help to piggyback off the SEO already done.

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-01-28T03:48:55.176Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

It would help if we knew more about what the point of the name is. Most importantly what do you want the name to signal about the organization? Hip and edgy or dignified and respectible? Hardcore or something anyone could be apart of? That sort of thing. Also do you want to embrace or shy away from the fact that you are technically in the self help business.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-01-28T10:19:50.964Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think that a good name should be somewhat arbitrary; it should not be a description of what organization does. It is easier to google, and also does lead to quick judgement "yeah, I totally can imagine what exactly they do; I don't need any more information".

It should be user friendly, not sound like some government institution or something very advanced scientifically or technically. It should not evoke "this is not for me" response.

Easy to remember and pronounce.

No strong associations. Bad associations are obviously bad, but also associations that are good for some people, are probably bad for some other people.

Also do you want to embrace or shy away from the fact that you are technically in the self help business.

It's not just self-help, it's also other-help, like an educational institution.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-01-28T02:52:14.893Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Having "Rationality" in the name would probably be a bad thing. (Straw Vulcan stereotypes and all that.) "Bayesian" is a much better choice IMO.

Why not call it something like BayesWay?

Or how about that old Japanese cliche... "Better than Yesterday"? That would go well with Stabilizer's "Update Yourself" byline.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-01-28T10:07:40.456Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, "Bayes" could make people say: "It is about some advanced statistics, that's not for me."

I guess the goal is to provide rationality to everyone who cares, not to appear like something for-specialists-only.

comment by Icehawk78 · 2012-01-29T23:43:57.783Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure that "Bayes" or "Bayesian" has a strong public association with anything unless you're already interested in statistics. I've used it in several discussions and every time had to give a quick explanation of what it meant. (Good practice for honing my explanations and reinforcing the concept in my own brain, as well.)

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-01-29T20:20:43.745Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for "Better than Yesterday."

comment by james_edwards · 2012-01-28T06:43:04.499Z · score: 12 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Wrote a list of 100 ideas, here are the highlights:

  • Insight Out
  • The Upsight Institute
  • Wisdom18
  • Level Up
  • Thinking Plus
  • Reason Out
  • Making Sense
comment by james_edwards · 2012-01-28T06:50:38.000Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

A few more:

  • Good Reason
  • Sight and Mind
  • Tactical Reasoning
  • Wisdom Plus One

I'm on a phone, apologies for terse commenting.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2012-01-28T18:04:00.175Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I quite like Good Reason

comment by atorm · 2012-01-28T23:17:19.893Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"Tactical Reasoning" sounds cool, but also slightly militaristic. Maybe not the best message to send. Maybe a really cool name for a book or group of rationality katas, though.

comment by kpreid · 2012-02-04T02:06:21.210Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You could shelve it next to Street-Fighting Mathematics.

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-01-29T06:12:30.357Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Good Reason

Taken but that unknown enough that something with Good Reason in it, but with a little more, ex. "The Good Reason Group" should work.

comment by Nick_Roy · 2012-01-28T10:49:15.834Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I upvoted, but I'll clarify why, as this is a list: the only name I like on this list is Level Up, but I strongly like it.

comment by james_edwards · 2012-01-28T12:12:28.198Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A worthy clarification! I considered making one comment per idea, but I'm not sure they are all up to that level of scrutiny.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T19:12:47.883Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I also REALLY like Level Up. It solidified pretty quickly in my brain. The name expands pretty easily to "Level Up Enterprises" or somesuch, if preferred. And I can easily envision the second prong on the letter "U" being an up-arrow.

I originally liked Insight Out, but when I reflected on it, I think I am being influenced by consistency bias, because I already threw my hat in with the word "Insight" earlier. I still think it's a really good one, I just like Level Up better!

comment by mindspillage · 2012-01-30T01:44:12.331Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't like it much--it brings up mental images that you're going be there with a bunch of people who treat it as a game, rather than a serious endeavor (something that suggests it might be fun is fine, but not something that suggests it is not serious). And maybe that it will be mostly intended for the video game demographic of socially awkward college-aged men.

comment by adamisom · 2012-01-31T03:00:03.199Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I love Level Up except for one thing, one kind of big thing. It may not be meaningful to the majority of people not familiar with gaming. That's the only thing I see as a potential downside, but...

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-01-28T05:09:45.537Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

BTW our best current suggestion came from these comments, so keep it up!

comment by markette · 2012-01-28T05:40:13.119Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

PM me if you want my opinion without revealing the name in public.

comment by mstevens · 2012-01-29T21:08:58.339Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Not seen anyone suggest this yet, but the simple things are always good:

Rationality Institute

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2012-01-28T14:27:20.868Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Center for Excellence in Thinking and Deciding
Less Wrong Foundation
Institute for the Advancement of Human Rationality

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-29T14:25:30.306Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW


comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2012-01-29T16:33:55.230Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Not really, "foundations" are usually funds that redirect money to other worthy causes, while the organization in question will be generating its own content and services. On the other hand, there is Wikimedia Foundation, which was the example that established the analogy for me.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-29T17:24:00.676Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


comment by dugancm · 2012-01-30T23:13:05.295Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In this case it's redirecting minds. That's the ultimate goal isn't it?

comment by Morendil · 2012-01-28T09:27:58.951Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

"Grey Belt" - combines the "we are all aspiring rationalists" notion (white belt, also activates the dojo node) with a significant color word - grey matter.

"Possible Minds" - because that's an Eliezer catchphrase, but also a succinct statement of the intent: to explore the space of possible minds, although only in a tiny region to start with. (You may view the link with SI - exploring the same space much farther out - as a bonus or as a problem.)

"Hedgefox". Not 100% original, but combines a prediction reference (cover of Tetlock's book), references to thinking styles, and the notion of cognitive diversity.

comment by adamisom · 2012-01-31T03:02:12.656Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for Grey Belt. The other two are terrible. Grey Belt on the other hand, is a clear image, very short, and has the added advantage of (possibly) being immediately understood by ~1/2 of the general population (at least next to a good logo).

comment by shokwave · 2012-01-28T08:14:44.238Z · score: 8 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Derive something from Latin? You've got callidus for clever, sapio for wise, subtilis for precise, veri for truth...

So maybe the Callida Council, or Veri Institute, or the Verus Foundation.

The Less Wrong Institution, for the refinement of human rationality.

Sapiet House.

Fuck it, go with BayesCamp.

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-28T08:24:42.544Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Derive something from Latin? You've got callidus for clever, sapio for wise, subtilis for precise, veri for truth...

And "ratio", which also turns up in "likelihood ratio". If we're going ugly corporate neologism, we could do Accuratio (ETA: which turns out to be a company in Latvia).

Fuck it, go with BayesCamp.

The Bayes Factor?

comment by hamnox · 2012-01-28T21:57:38.941Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

BayesCamp would be just one thing that the [insert rationality inst name] provides, I think.

Speaking of which, I wonder what possibilities could arise of coordinating BayesCamp Kids with Camp Quest...

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-28T03:56:47.974Z · score: 8 (14 votes) · LW · GW

These aren't very good:

Alliance for Accuracy. Be Right Club. Make No Mistake. Better Believe. Untangle. Second Thought. Judgewell. Sanity Plus.

comment by Morendil · 2012-01-28T09:33:02.266Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Query Huggers. Oops Masters. Belief Rentiers. Belief Landlords. Level Up Artists.

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-28T22:18:56.169Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Utilon. The Weirdtopia Group.

comment by Solvent · 2012-01-28T09:52:16.855Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oops Masters


Level Up Artists

It took me a second to get that.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-01-28T13:47:13.902Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Oops Masters


I beg to differ. Think about what someone who doesn't get the reference will think.

comment by Solvent · 2012-01-29T04:20:29.491Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Good point.

comment by Morendil · 2012-01-28T09:10:04.769Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The "Fight Club" allusion is good, though. Instant recognition if you can manage to activate that node, and it ties in well with the idea of a rationality dojo.

Combining that with other ideas you'd get "Insight Club".

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2012-01-28T10:06:58.966Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Rationality Dojo" hasn't been suggested.

comment by Morendil · 2012-01-28T10:10:37.725Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Only in plural. :)

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-28T05:09:33.756Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Map Masters. Sanity Sharpeners. Reality Reflecters. Truth Trackers. Bayesbound.

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-28T06:51:23.855Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

The Disciples of Laplace. The Bayesheviks. The Accurati. The Order of the Urn. Sanity Streamlining. Sanetuary. Decision Division. Madness Mitigation. Consequence Captains. Consequence Institute. Outcome Institute. Veracity Institute. Cooler Cognition Council. Campus Crusade for Correct Cognition. Answers In Sequences. Church of Probabilitology. (Obviously some of these are unviable. Just brainstorming.)

comment by Mitchell_Porter · 2012-01-28T12:59:52.386Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Center for Correct Contrarianism. Unbounded Rationality Institute. All Your Bayes Are Belong To Us Foundation, Inc.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T17:13:41.974Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Campus Crusade for Correct Cognition

If any LW meetup groups become university-affiliated organizations, this is what they should be called.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T23:25:31.679Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Jugewell sound a lot like Givewell (obviously) but I like it! Sanity plus sounds a bit like franchise of Humanity Plus but that might be a good thing (?).

comment by AnnaSalamon · 2012-01-28T04:13:05.610Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Rationality Dojos

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2012-01-30T00:28:32.893Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Is martial arts really a good metaphor for rationality? I think ergonomics, hygiene, or nutrition is a better metaphor, myself. It's supposed to be applied to all aspects of your life, it's hard to measure the benefits, and it's something you do continuously, rather than at specific times. Also, it's more about avoiding bad habits than anything.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-01-31T16:22:26.197Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Dojo describes the nature of the organisation rather than the subject being studied (e.g. there are Go dojos). This being practical exercises towards a common goal, rather than say an 'academy' that studies it in the abstract.

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-01-31T16:49:18.555Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but how many english speakers know that?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-06T14:39:25.489Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree ... and think that martial arts are a perfect metaphor for exactly the reasons you just outlined.

Knowledge of a perfect 'style' of fighting would be applied to all aspects of life, and would be continuously practiced. By mastery of the true and sublime kung-fu, you would avoid all bad habits and work forever towards becoming stronger. What you take from the dojo protects you every day, making your life better.

And let's be honest: a building when you learn to kick ass is WAY sexier than a center that teaches ergonomics, hygiene or nutrition. If we're trying to sell LessWrong, it can't hurt to make LessWrong sexy.

I'm not saying that 'Rationality Dojo' is the best answer.

But I do really like the metaphor.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T05:10:29.849Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

You could name it after a statistician. Laplace is taken, but Bayes, Jaynes, Jeffreys, and others are free.

comment by lessdazed · 2012-01-28T06:16:58.961Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


comment by MileyCyrus · 2012-01-28T02:55:02.108Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I predict this thread will turn into a bike shed brawl.

comment by Kevin · 2012-01-28T03:12:58.033Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Totally obvious, but less likely with this preemptive comment.

comment by katydee · 2012-01-28T19:36:40.322Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Applied Insight Institute (or just Insight Institute).

comment by khafra · 2012-01-30T15:29:06.455Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds like a Landmark Forum-type cult (although this is an intuition I don't have much insight into).

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-28T16:09:04.467Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW


comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-28T16:12:16.462Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW


comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-28T16:16:46.618Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

and for the sake of completeness:


comment by rysade · 2012-01-30T15:11:17.682Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thinkbest is an evil cybernetics corporation from D20 Modern's Cyberscape sourcebook.

comment by Karmakaiser · 2012-01-31T17:03:40.354Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW


comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-28T16:10:14.276Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Damn, it's taken! - Effective online videos and online courses for high school and college students in math, science, and social science. Achieve success where traditional ...

comment by rhollerith_dot_com · 2012-01-28T18:28:17.266Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Better Knowing.

comment by Xece · 2012-01-28T03:49:55.853Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The Center for Better Reasoning

comment by CharlesR · 2012-01-28T09:23:25.739Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Center for Better Thinking

comment by Craig_Heldreth · 2012-01-28T19:49:32.962Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The gold standard of such institutions is The Royal Philosophical Society.

Perhaps some form of The __ Philosophical Society.

What goes in the blank I am drawing a blank on. The California or Silicon Valley P.S. would be fine. The opposite of Royal is Commoner so the Common P. S. might be OK. Or Common Sense P.S. Or Real or Reality P. S. I would not use Bayes as a bunch of physical scientists whose attention you might want to attract are nigh-dogmatic frequentists right now but could presumably be weaned from their dogma.

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-01-28T21:01:52.296Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure if the're good ideas, but the following appear to be free.

The Practical Philosophical Society

The Modern Philosophical Society

The Empirical Philosophical Society.

If anyone on LW happens to be surprisingly well connected "The Royal Rationality Society" would be great.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T23:38:24.003Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Not saying that a lot of the stuff on Less Wrong is philosophy, but you don't think it's a bit risky going for "Philosoph-" something? A potential improvement would be something more along the lines of Neurophilosphy. (?) New branding that is.

Edit: Oops, suppose to say "[...] is not philosophy [...]"

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T14:44:24.761Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe it would be wise to make sure people do not confuse rationality with Hollywood rationality or rationalism?

Wise Decision Institute.

Thorough Thought.

Thorough Thinking

EDIT: I guess one could add Foundation.

comment by lessdazed · 2012-01-28T03:58:20.445Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Practical Anticipation (Institute/Project/Center/etc.)

comment by Arkanj3l · 2012-01-31T17:34:16.825Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

MBlume's analogy (way back) of how we're cartographers has struck me as a cool one. Cartographer to me carries the same kind of weight as Alchemist would. Here are some names based on that trope.

  • Mind Charts
  • Internal Compass
  • Mental Cartography
  • Map is Territory

I hope someone does better than I can at using this theme.

comment by Arkanj3l · 2012-01-31T20:14:25.693Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Mind Charter" comes off as a pun, because 'charter' is literally a treaty as well as a description of someone who makes maps. "The Mind Charter" could stand on its own.

comment by dugancm · 2012-01-31T00:38:38.464Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I like how SIAI's name references both the event you're working toward and method of achieving it. Is there a single word that describes a watershed event that would indicate the rationality institute's direct success like "Singularity" does an intelligence explosion? That supporters could rally around and label themselves by (singularitarian)? A word for approximating the ideal Bayesian updater, for felling akrasia, for actually changing one's mind? Can we create or annex one?

Exaltation, Transcendence, Apotheosis, Enlightenment, Upload, Elevation, Laudation, Upgrade, Epiphanic, and Ideate come to mind, but what I'm looking for is something more like "the act (event) of becoming your best self" in a word. Too many of these have strong religious connotations for me.

comment by dugancm · 2012-02-09T23:12:04.940Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

After some thought, I hereby create Max Agency! Plucky comic superhero mascot of Zenith Agency (Z.A. Huzzah!) ...for Consequential Action (Z.A.C.A.) The acronym for which happens to be Max's battlecry, but only when shouted in triplicate of course!

Now that I have a word, the idea of an agency without agents (only aspiring agents) tickles me tremendously.

Other thoughts: Agency Institute for Rationality Training (A.I.R. Training)

Agency Foundation for Applied Rationality (A.F.A.R.)

comment by CharlesR · 2012-01-30T16:25:50.775Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The Center for the Advancement of Human Reason

comment by xrchz · 2012-01-29T23:22:01.487Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW
  • (Centre for) Art of Reason
  • Art of Winning
  • Act Better
  • Right on Target (or Target on Right)
  • Evidence Based
  • Mindtweak
  • Mindhack
  • Effective Agency
  • Winning Institute
  • Inspired Thought
  • Achieve
  • Decision Training
  • Better Model
  • Perfect Thought
  • Motivated Action
comment by james_edwards · 2012-01-30T05:54:12.743Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for "Target on Right".

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-28T18:23:43.214Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Calibrating Cognition

comment by Arkanj3l · 2012-01-31T17:35:58.416Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


comment by Scott Alexander (Yvain) · 2012-01-28T16:20:12.278Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

PhronEasy, with the tagline "Making practical wisdom simple". No, wait, that's terrible.

My brother does some work for a professional naming company. Their prices are high, but they sound very professional (some of the stuff he talks about is a lot like what was mentioned here. If everything else fails, do be aware that such people exist.

comment by Scott Alexander (Yvain) · 2012-01-28T16:22:07.745Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Also, how about "Cogito"? Sounds related to thinking, but otherwise vague and non-threatening.

comment by komponisto · 2012-02-01T17:23:17.037Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

People would hesitate over the pronunciation of the "g" (which is as in "get", not as in "gem" -- the Catholic Church be damned).

comment by james_edwards · 2012-01-28T13:09:11.511Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

More ideas below. Incidentally, I am not really aiming to win the thread here. I just learned the cool technique of writing lists of 100 ideas, the idea being that quantity leads to quality. Apparently it's most effective to have some people generate ideas, and others critique them. By now I'm firmly in the first camp on this task.

The latest ideas:

  • Groundswell (as in logical grounds)
  • Enhance Mental
  • Inferential Iteration
  • Phronesis (or Fronesis)
  • Logical Operators
  • Mentat Mentors
  • Sharp Ratio (a pun on this)

Edit: Fixed links.

comment by hamnox · 2012-01-29T01:58:51.202Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Tangent on the 100 idea list: I think this may be one of the most useful little tidbits I've ever come across. It's a perfectly natural complement to the -think about it for five minutes- and -hold off on proposing solutions- ideas, spectacular for solo problem solving. It's so obvious I feel dumb for not having tried it earlier.

Why we're spending our time speculating on stuff like directed marijuana highs (Not that I don't like that post. I do.) when we've barely even got our basic katas down I'll never understand. Unless everyone here is secretly halfway to beisutsukai mastery already and I've been left out of the loop. Wouldn't be the first time something like that has happened.

comment by james_edwards · 2012-01-28T13:15:34.023Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
  • Lucidity
  • Reflexively Rational
  • Powergame Reality
  • Power Level Life
comment by shminux · 2012-01-28T06:35:18.204Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Think to win

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-28T16:18:24.545Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was trying to think of a way to put "win" in there. It's too bad "Winning the Future" is already taken.

comment by Stabilizer · 2012-01-28T02:36:24.026Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Update: The Rationality Institute

or maybe "Update yourself" might be a nice byline for whatever name is chosen.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T19:20:11.354Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I really like "Update yourself" as a byline. Especially in the context of pitching this to tech startups/software developer types. (It's reminiscent of updating your computer). It could combine well with james_edwards' suggestion above of Level Up into:

Level Up
byline: Update yourself

(Or: Update Your Self ? )

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2012-02-18T10:41:56.981Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Looks like the current name is "Center for Modern Rationality". Points to beoShaffer!

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-02-23T04:12:49.036Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I technically didn't suggest "Center for Modern Rationality", but I seem to have been the only one to suggest "Modern Rationality" and it is pretty close to "Center for Applied Rationality". So, I guess it's possible I inspired it.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-02-01T08:39:38.708Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"The Rationalist Society"

(Possibly its a British thing, but society sounds far better/more benevolent than Institute or similar.)

comment by komponisto · 2012-02-01T17:45:25.364Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

society sounds far better/more benevolent than Institute or similar.

I have the opposite reaction: "society" sounds much more potentially menacing (whereas "Skull and Bones Institute" makes me laugh out loud).

comment by Wrongnesslessness · 2012-01-30T05:58:17.127Z · score: 2 (10 votes) · LW · GW
  • Foundation for Human Sapience (or Foundation for Advanced Sapience)

  • Reality Transplantation Center

  • Thoughtful Organization

  • CORTEX - Center for Organized Rational Thinking and EXperimentation

  • OOPS - Organization for Optimal Perception Seekers

  • BAYES - Bureau for Advancing Yudkowsky's Experiments in Sanity

comment by antigonus · 2012-01-29T06:47:22.014Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


comment by windmil · 2012-02-06T02:34:48.187Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Y'know, we came up with this idea for this institution and all the cool things we could do. We got so wrapped up in it that the name was kind of an afterthought.

comment by fiddlemath · 2012-01-28T05:42:58.981Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a lightly-edited brainstorm:

  • Institute for Clearer Thinking
  • Foundation for Better Thinking
  • Better Thinking Buereau
  • Foundation for Critical Thought
  • Rationality Foundation
  • Center for Sharper Thought
  • Center for Reason and its Applications
  • Center for Applied Reason
  • Guild of Reason
  • Center for Reason
comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2012-01-28T04:25:54.775Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2012-01-28T03:49:49.994Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Are we going for something academic-sounding or something self-improvement sounding?

comment by Kevin · 2012-01-28T03:50:56.977Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Mostly we're just trying to brainstorm such that the more names the better, whether those are academic or self-improvement sounding.

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-10T00:49:35.882Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure if this discussion is still ongoing, but...

It seems to me that something that means "rationality" should be in there, and probably a word that means "institute".

Some words are to be avoided, like 'belief', which carry weird connotations. Weird-sounding is probably bad ("Mensa" sounds too weird to lots of people). English words are probably best. Being tied to a person's name is hardly ever a good idea.

The Institute for Intelligence Utilization
Make Humanity Smarter
Sanity Academy
League of Extraordinary Thinkers
The Brain Society
Order of Daedalus
Knights Prometheus (EDIT: should probably be "Knights Promethean")
The Bayesian Priory

comment by thomblake · 2012-02-10T00:50:04.887Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sadly, "Icarus Foundation" is taken.

comment by AlexSchell · 2012-02-06T20:09:51.404Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Practical Reasoning Institute

Institute for Practical Reasoning

comment by xrchz · 2012-01-31T02:04:33.148Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW
  • Whatever Works
  • Dreamshine
  • Attainment
  • Veridian
  • Reasound
  • Minds' Arts
  • Melodine
  • Sunshine Army
  • Embrace Sense
comment by thomblake · 2012-02-13T16:31:00.366Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I really like "Whatever Works"

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-31T02:52:11.516Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for "Attainment". "Reasound" is clever but awkward to say.

comment by SlyClaw · 2012-01-30T09:14:16.678Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

reasonable minds


rationality brigade

reason (insert word for group)

raison d'être

*(yes, I know, it is not technically a word)

comment by xrchz · 2012-01-31T02:50:08.972Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

names don't have to be words already

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-01-28T11:06:28.357Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The Thought Academy.
The Thought Institute.
The Outthink Center.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T10:13:57.396Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW
  • Human Rationality Institute
  • Human Reasoning Institute
comment by komponisto · 2012-01-30T06:34:28.654Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Institute for Human Rationality (IHR).

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-28T16:14:13.544Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Improving Rationality Institute.

Better Reasoning Institute.

comment by CharlesR · 2012-01-28T09:43:26.160Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Center for the Advancement of Human Thought

comment by shokwave · 2012-01-28T08:36:33.498Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Either Clarity Workshops (we offer them) or Clarity Workshop (we work on clarity instead of cars). Depends on how much you want to focus on running things-you-can-call-workshops (ie seminars, lectures, group training sessions, and so on).

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-28T08:40:27.165Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm slightly worried about this association:

comment by shokwave · 2012-01-29T04:17:21.648Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That did not occur to me. Good point.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T08:24:52.044Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Practical Epistemics Institute.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T07:57:52.378Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW


comment by Morendil · 2012-01-28T09:00:46.430Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Other suggestions in the opaque-but-meaningful-to-the-ingroup category might include "Tsuyoku Naritai" and "Algernon".

Any name optimized for ingroup recognition is likely to suffer the same issues as "Waterline" or "Less Wrong", i.e. won't mean much to outsiders.

comment by Cyan · 2012-01-28T06:02:43.746Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
  • Shut Up and Multiply (SUM)
  • Society for Methodical Rationality Training (SMRT) (ok, not really)
  • Rationality Praxis Institute
comment by ata · 2012-01-28T06:33:26.890Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Shut Up and Multiply (SUM)

Unfortunately that's not even a very good phrase to begin with, let alone as a name for an organization. People hearing it for the first time without context mostly seem to assume that refers to reproduction, presumably by comparison to the phrase "be fruitful and multiply", or at least have that come to mind and are confused about what it has to do with rationality.

comment by Grognor · 2012-01-28T07:03:38.137Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I recall being very confused when I first saw that phrase in Three Worlds Collide. To this day I don't know why people use "multiply" instead of "calculate".

comment by shokwave · 2012-01-28T07:17:12.187Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Shut Up and Calculate's Katas would SUCK.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-01-28T11:42:30.964Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have always assumed it derived from modeling expected-value calculations as the product of likelihood-of-scenario and value-of-scenario.

comment by Alejandro1 · 2012-01-31T21:44:26.931Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The phrase is in fact a mutation of "Shut up and calculate", a common stance pragmatical physicists take towards discussions of the interpretation of quantum mechanics.

comment by Grognor · 2012-01-28T05:52:08.891Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My best tries:

Simple but boring

  • Mostly Rational
  • Decision Training
  • Minding Mind
  • Methods that Actually Work (MAW)

Too fancy

  • Technical Thinking Institute
  • Practical Problem Solving
  • Mental Floss / Mental Sharpener
  • Whatever Is Necessary (WIN)
  • Epistemic Voracity Dance
  • The Unfettered, Unwavering Path to Glorious Triumph!
comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-28T15:58:44.793Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Whatever Is Necessary (WIN)

Could trigger the knee-jerk reaction to "The ends always justify the means, stupid rabbit, durr!" and all such Rand-like screed that's even now floating around in contrarian circles.

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-28T18:31:06.078Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How you came up with "The ends always justify the means" as being "Rand-like" is beyond me.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-28T18:54:54.180Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's a stereotype of her thinking in America, no?

comment by TimS · 2012-01-28T18:58:39.764Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Selfishness (which is the American stereotype) != ends justify means.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-28T19:19:00.898Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh. Got it.

comment by denise · 2012-02-14T07:43:37.727Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

:: Mind Chess ::

That's the name that I've always called a manner of looking through the mind for routes that one has taken and routes that one may potentially take. We must be able to look ahead to see what all the myriad potentials of outcomes are before we make a decision. And a positively configured move will bring us closer to the position of our goal. It is a puzzle, it is a game, it is the outcome of success we seek. We all can do it! New manners of programming our minds simply and easily is the future, and it is what we need to breed harmonious creations, yeah!

comment by marchdown · 2012-02-07T21:02:42.471Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A good first step in optimizing the world according to your wishes is noticing and acknowledging that you've got a problem.

With that in mind, why should the rational community frame its core activities — development of epistemic and acquisition of instrumental rationality, plus public advocacy of sanity — simply as another fun game to engage in, with an added benefit of warm fuzzies and making oneself feel smart?

Wouldn't it be better to provoke a question, or, better yet, an acknowledgement — yes, I am (neurotypical) human, I am fallible (irrational), I wish I could become less wrong.

That's why I'm proposing to have /Ir/rationality in the name. As for the name itself, I am at loss. I don't see the benefit or adhering to some common naming convention as being substantial. How about "We, the Irrational Humans"? Humans, because I don't envision any AGIs, swarms, extraterrestrials, chimps, squids, or dolphins joining us any time soon.

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-02-04T16:47:28.116Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Live to win.

comment by SlyClaw · 2012-02-03T08:45:06.676Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

MoreRight i had this thought and apologize

comment by Zieken · 2012-02-02T01:15:26.389Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Has anyone tried doing a mind map? They're simple procedures that (specifically graphic) designers use to upstart creative thinking. You start with any word in the center relating to the problem you want solved (and all design is, is problem solving, mind) and then write out every term that you think of without self doubt. Though this link is referring more to the visual design applications of the method, it's still really useful and is how my professor taught me.

On the other hand is the bucket system, which is a grid. You would write a topic above the columns (for example, words that bring to mind rationality) and vertically by the rows you title whatever the other portion of the problem is (in this case, organizations). Then after a set time, you look at where the columns and rows line up to try out the pairs of words together. It can be a little tedious, but it certainly helps narrow things down a bit, eh? I drew up a pic in MS Paint...

I hope this helps out a bit, guys. Personally, I like words such as anticipative, prudence, discerning...

Actually, has anyone said this one? "Center Forethought" ?

comment by xrchz · 2012-01-31T03:33:47.262Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
  • Humanity's Potential
  • Sense Trust
  • Reach
  • Brightness Released
  • Grow Beyond
  • Coherent Life
comment by james_edwards · 2012-01-31T03:21:57.237Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
  • Reflex Rational (or Rational Reflex)
  • Praxis Rational
  • Accurate Agency
  • The Accuracy Agency
  • Change Agent
  • Improved Metrics
  • Practical Measures
  • Better Measures
  • Measure Mental
  • Calibration
  • Making Sense
  • Percept Action
  • Precision Living
comment by Prismattic · 2012-01-31T00:24:22.272Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Truthward Ho!

comment by komponisto · 2012-01-30T17:57:45.984Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Global Winning

comment by SlyClaw · 2012-01-30T09:44:44.409Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Lonely Dissent

comment by GuySrinivasan · 2012-01-30T07:52:35.728Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW




comment by xrchz · 2012-01-30T01:33:47.106Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
  • Subliminal Processing
  • Wordless Thought
  • Ratikata
  • LessWrong Dojo
  • Think Academy
comment by shokwave · 2012-01-29T23:41:33.240Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I came here to post Thought Corrective but as I did I simultaneously wanted to shorten it to just Corrective and also realised that prisons are called corrective institutions, so I guess maybe not.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-01-30T10:12:43.225Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Too Orwellian/negative connotations.

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-29T23:42:06.109Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I like it

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-01-29T01:00:23.318Z · score: 0 (10 votes) · LW · GW

"The Bayes-Jitsu Project"

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-01-29T19:51:46.985Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Ok so you don't like my name suggestion, but is it really bad enough to downvote in a thread specifically for wildly brainstorming random names?

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-01-31T02:49:27.064Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

but is it really bad enough to downvote in a thread specifically for wildly brainstorming random names?

I didn't downvote it, but yeah, I think it's horrid enough to downvote. Some names here are bland or misleading, but this name I'd be embarrassed to actually mention to others in the highly unlikely chance it got picked. It speaks of martial arts fetishization, and of adding random Japanese words because one thinks them cool -- much like a fanboy/fangirl going "Kawai!" and "Baka!" because they learned these words from anime.

comment by Metus · 2012-01-28T23:25:00.269Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(Thomas) Bayes Institute

More Right Institute

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-01-29T06:00:10.903Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

More Right Institute

Right has political connotation in at least America, and I think most other english speaking countries as well.

comment by Metus · 2012-01-29T11:58:33.403Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I did not notice that as I thought of "More Right" as the synonym to "Less Wrong". Do you have any viable alternative?

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-01-29T14:32:21.279Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I considered "More Correct" but that doesn't seem to work.

comment by katydee · 2012-01-29T20:18:12.705Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Neither "More Right" nor "More Correct" really work with the same connotations as "Less Wrong."

comment by Metus · 2012-01-29T20:29:22.946Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe "Less Wrong Institute" would be the way to go?

comment by HonoreDB · 2012-01-28T19:28:59.095Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The Meta Foundation

The Metafoundation

Institute for Applied Meta

Decision Techniques

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T18:52:24.389Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Edit: Lol, these were all horrible, not just the culty ones. Organization names should be boring, not cute.

comment by atorm · 2012-01-28T22:59:05.337Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Belief Academy immediately pinged my "cult-dar", although I'm not sure why.

comment by katydee · 2012-01-29T20:18:45.596Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


comment by dbaupp · 2012-01-29T06:29:04.427Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Belief Academy, Belief Dojo.

Anything with "belief" in it would set up associations with religious beliefs of the "you just need to have faith" category.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T17:59:27.244Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Mind The Mind

comment by novalis · 2012-01-28T17:27:09.886Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Decision Making Seminars

comment by betterthanwell · 2012-01-28T17:15:25.961Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The Sanity Institute for Human Intelligence? (Haha, I'm joking.)

"Bayesian Illuminati" would likely pique my interest.

comment by betterthanwell · 2012-01-28T17:26:29.964Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Noojo. (from nous + dojo)

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-01-28T19:12:33.517Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Looks like No Jo.

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-01-28T16:55:50.531Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Reality Seekers

Looking for Reality

Fountains of Light

The Optimizers


comment by orthonormal · 2012-01-28T16:04:34.624Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Next idea: take some phrases, translate them into Greek/Latin/both, fiddle around until we find something that sounds good as (all or part of) a name.

It could be worthwhile trying out the matrix of possibilities across languages given by pairing two nouns from the set {art, rationality, virtue, science, knowledge, practice, thinking, etc.}

Poor examples:

  • The Sophognosis Institute- "the knowledge of knowledge"
  • The Cognopraxis Institute- "the practice of thinking"
comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-01-28T13:36:43.371Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How broad of a market are we aiming for? Is this intended to appeal mostly to people who know about and like "traditional rationality," or to random corporations?


Project Sanity

Center/Institute/Foundation for Applied Epistemology

Center/Institute/Foundation for Applied Sanity

Center/Institute/Foundation for Applied Thinking

Center/Institute/Foundation for Applied Thought

Meta-suggestion: I would really like if the word "Applied" was in there somewhere.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2012-01-28T11:18:46.116Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW
  1. The Society for Enhanced Reasoning

  2. The Institute for Enhanced Reasoning

comment by CharlesR · 2012-01-28T08:48:33.916Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The Thomas Bayes Institute for Human Thought

Short: The Bayes Institute for Human Thought

Shorter: The Bayes Institute

comment by CharlesR · 2012-01-28T09:30:54.584Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The Center for Improving Human Thought

comment by CharlesR · 2012-01-28T09:26:56.724Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The Bayes Center for the Advancement of Human Reason

comment by drethelin · 2012-01-28T07:15:18.181Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Smarten Up

Train Your Brain

Think Smarter

comment by moridinamael · 2012-01-28T05:26:23.896Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW


Say it out loud.


comment by Anubhav · 2012-01-28T07:06:07.110Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Non-googleability is a minus.

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-01-28T05:25:48.645Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Truthseekers United

People for Clear thought

Practical Rationality

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-01-28T13:43:19.324Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW Its Truthseekers United, no apostrophe. You're suggesting names for an organization, and I like that one, so spelling it right is important.
comment by beoShaffer · 2012-01-28T14:15:20.919Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


comment by Incorrect · 2012-01-28T04:28:59.559Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I like the concept of "to be rather than to seem" but am having trouble thinking of a name to convey it.

With reservation, here's some suggestions:

Applied Coherence
Tangible Actualization

comment by siodine · 2012-01-28T03:25:00.486Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The Illuminated Reason Institute

The Development of Reason and Rationality (DORR) Institute (it's pleonastic but it sounds nice; could just use one of the Rs)

The Course Corrective Institute

The Moreright Institute

The Better Life Institute

(It'd be so much easier if it could have a German name.)

comment by beoShaffer · 2012-01-28T03:40:17.450Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

(It'd be so much easier if it could have a German name.)

What would you name it if you could use German.

comment by siodine · 2012-01-28T03:47:51.602Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't have any specific examples in mind, I was just referring to how easily and meaningfully you can combine words in German to form a new word. See Rinderkennzeichnungs- und Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-01-28T03:35:57.677Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Too long-winded and pompous.

comment by siodine · 2012-01-28T03:39:39.671Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Which one? All of them?

Edit: Shouldn't be any worries about having a long name where you can used an acronym. E.g., SETI (Search for extraterrestrial intelligence) institute.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-01-28T03:57:27.829Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The "The Whatever Institute" structure in general.

comment by siodine · 2012-01-28T03:59:35.177Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I got that structure from googling < institute>... There's also The Institute for structure

comment by James_Miller · 2012-01-28T02:37:53.420Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Better Decision Making

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-01-28T03:07:15.463Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Might be an interesting brand for the rationality katas, but does it work as an organizational name?

comment by James_Miller · 2012-01-28T07:14:47.923Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The Better Decision Making Academy.

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-28T07:33:02.666Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder whether it's a significant downside if the organization's name privileges one of epistemic and instrumental rationality over the other.

comment by James_Miller · 2012-01-28T03:22:04.636Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There is an organization called BetterInvesting.

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-28T18:24:24.031Z · score: -1 (23 votes) · LW · GW

The Mental Institute


The Eliezer Yudkowsky Mental Institute for Criminally Insane Artificial Intelligence Researchers

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-29T14:40:28.038Z · score: 5 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Funny. But useless. Don't clog the thread with cutesy proposals. To avoid being unfair I'm going to go through the entire thread now and down-vote every single post with a cutesy/non-serious proposal.

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-29T23:54:10.882Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Why is Less Wrong against humor? I am all for being professional - if all you are looking for his humor then you can go to reddit or something - but why should we be actively discouraging people from being funny at all? I've seen this in other communities, too. As much respect as I have for Eliezer (which is a lot), people tend to get all emotionally attached to the "hero" of their community/movement, and suddenly it becomes not ok to joke about the authorities or otherwise hint anything negative about them at all. Doesn't go well with your whole "we're not a cult" thing. Just saying.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-01-31T21:49:37.724Z · score: 11 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure about LW in general, but I don't want to see humor on LW unless maybe if it's exceptionally good. Humor seems to be toxic to thoughtful discussion. It's not about Eliezer as a high value target, I feel the same way about humor aimed at anyone or anything else. A quote from Paul Graham discussing the deterioration of Reddit, among other things:

The most dangerous form of stupid comment is not the long but mistaken argument, but the dumb joke. Long but mistaken arguments are actually quite rare. There is a strong correlation between comment quality and length; if you wanted to compare the quality of comments on community sites, average length would be a good predictor. Probably the cause is human nature rather than anything specific to comment threads. Probably it's simply that stupidity more often takes the form of having few ideas than wrong ones.

Whatever the cause, stupid comments tend to be short. And since it's hard to write a short comment that's distinguished for the amount of information it conveys, people try to distinguish them instead by being funny. The most tempting format for stupid comments is the supposedly witty put-down, probably because put-downs are the easiest form of humor. So one advantage of forbidding meanness is that it also cuts down on these.

Bad comments are like kudzu: they take over rapidly. Comments have much more effect on new comments than submissions have on new submissions. If someone submits a lame article, the other submissions don't all become lame. But if someone posts a stupid comment on a thread, that sets the tone for the region around it. People reply to dumb jokes with dumb jokes.

comment by Grognor · 2012-02-03T23:05:33.980Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You have no idea how much I agree with this. I suspect a similar but smaller thing happens when people use emoticons.

I love a good laugh (it is, in fact, the only joy in my life right now), but LW is not the place for it. The instant someone makes a dumb joke here, which happens far more than it should, the entire thread and all surrounding threads plummet in signal to noise ratio.

And people always upvote comments that make them laugh, reinforcing the behavior. Unfunny joke comments usually do not settle into negative karma, usually garnering, like, 1-4. That's no good, in my mind. It still positively reinforces unwanted behavior.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-30T07:24:19.791Z · score: 5 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer asked for help, not humour. The signal to noise ratio on this site has been deteriorating with the increased number of users (and consequently replies!). The marginal value of an additional joke compared to additional real content has been falling pretty rapidly.

Edit: I don't mean to imply the average quality of contributors has declined, but merely the sheer increase in volume has reduced the marginal value of certain kinds of comments.

comment by dbaupp · 2012-01-30T02:27:04.731Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Why is Less Wrong against humor?

Err... It's not. I have seen a few comments where people have lamented the fact that their most upvoted (by far) comment ever was a light-hearted joke, rather than one with some deep insight or otherwise useful contribution.

As much respect as I have for Eliezer (which is a lot), people tend to get all emotionally attached to the "hero" of their community/movement, and suddenly it becomes not ok to joke about the authorities or otherwise hint anything negative about them at all. Doesn't go well with your whole "we're not a cult" thing.

I didn't downvote, but I don't think people were necessarily downvoting because the names mildly insulted Eliezer. I'm guessing that just didn't think they were very good names for an organisation attempting to improve the rationality of humanity. (e.g. the second one relates to AI far more than rationality.)

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-30T13:25:11.102Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not complaining about the downvotes, maybe people just didn't think it was funny. I was just responding to the attitude Konkvistador expressed above (which is getting upvoted). So I'm not addressing something that doesn't exist.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-03T23:20:01.002Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think you need to read this thread.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-01-30T10:17:01.527Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Why is Less Wrong against humor?

Are you possibly generalizing from one example/committing a fundamental attribution error?

Doesn't go well with your whole "we're not a cult" thing. Just saying.

I'm a non-native English speaker. Can you explain to me what's the intended connotations for the sentence "just saying" here? Is someone supposed to be less offended by the potentially offensive previous statement?

comment by arundelo · 2012-01-30T13:50:46.953Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Just saying" / "I'm just sayin'":

(Short version: Yes, you've basically got the intended meaning right, but this figure of speech has its detractors who don't like its use as an all-purpose escape hatch. End of short version. For what it's worth I'm not one of the aforementioned detractors. My translation of the phrase is: "What I just said was intended not as an insult or provocation, but as a factual observation, and I'm letting you know that in a mildly humorous way by using a current figure of speech.")

Edit: Bonus fun link: Here's the song "Punch Bowl" by Punch Brothers, which uses the "I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'" variant of this phrase.

Edit 2: My Mom says she only likes this phrase when it's used by an animal.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-31T21:15:06.713Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Dude, don't accuse Ben & Jerry's of being a cult because they were brainstorming ice cream flavor names and you were chided for suggesting a sexual-sounding one.

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-29T23:43:30.102Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well I thought it was funny.

comment by Karmakaiser · 2012-01-31T17:24:57.896Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

From the "Rationalists Dojo" meme:

One Boxing Gym

One Boxing (Has the rationality dojo feel. People can call themselves One Boxers. Tagline can be something like "The Sweeter Science.")

Min, Max, Act. (again MMA has martial arts connection)

Mixed Mental Arts

Judge, Know, Do (JKD, same as Jeet Kune Do. If said fast it sounds a bit like an East Asian word.)

Think, Know, Decide (TKD Taekwondo)

comment by lessdazed · 2012-01-28T10:56:53.983Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The Anti-Zombie Conspiracy

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2012-01-28T13:06:03.372Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The Bayesian Conspiracy!

comment by hamnox · 2012-01-28T21:53:00.509Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I noticed that I almost upvoted your post because it was an in-group thing to say and not because of its actual merit in this conversation. Having the word 'conspiracy' anywhere near the name of this organization would be a downright awful idea in practice. I'd as soon suggest changing the official LessWrong slogan to "We're Not A Cult!".

comment by dbaupp · 2012-01-29T06:25:52.702Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Having the word 'conspiracy' anywhere near the name of this organization would be a downright awful idea in practice

Why? It seems unlikely that a real conspiracy would label itself "conspiracy", and promote itself under that name.

comment by khafra · 2012-01-30T15:33:42.998Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If you owned a restaurant, would you have menu items like "The Shit Sandwich"?

comment by dbaupp · 2012-01-31T12:10:43.196Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If I was in a restaurant with a menu item like that, I would consider ordering it just to see what it was.

(I take your point though.)

comment by hamnox · 2012-01-29T12:16:34.911Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't trust people to think that clearly. Plus, 'conspiracy' has negative connotations that are almost antithetical to evidence-based reasoning.

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-01-28T18:28:07.511Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

We will need better robes.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T21:07:56.920Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But it's not secret. Bayesian Order maybe.

comment by rhollerith_dot_com · 2012-01-28T18:53:15.265Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That is my favorite name so far.

It is an advantage for a name to include a word that has "juicy" connotations, in contrast with words like rationality, institute, decision, making, water, line, study, practical, critical, insight.

comment by magfrump · 2012-01-28T21:29:42.398Z · score: -3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

24 Hour Mental Fitness

The Mind Organization (GET IT, GET IT?!)