[Insert clever intro here]

post by Bae's Theorem (Senarin) · 2018-11-20T03:26:32.420Z · score: 19 (10 votes) · LW · GW · 13 comments

Hello, everyone. I'm not entirely sure where to start, or exactly how to say it, but here goes.

I only stumbled across Less Wrong this year, after reading HPMOR (I'm sure you get this all the time). Since then, I have gone from an evangelical Christian to a passionate rationalist with an insatiable hunger for challenging what I think I know. It helps that I already had a rationalist foundation, having originally started my adulthood as an atheist.

My training is in IT, but nowhere near enough to help with AI research. I am also quite intelligent, but not enough to open my own rationality dojo. Instead, I am channeling my extroverted nature to help spread the influence of rationality as far and passionately as I can. I am currently spearheading the Kansas City LW/SSC group, and plan to also begin practicing Street Epistemology.

At the risk of sounding like I am trying to garner empathy, I feel rather intimidated by the conversations that are had here; so my posting and commenting will be limited if not entirely non-existent. Please don't ever be discouraged by my silence. You may count yourselves among my friends.

13 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by TruePath · 2018-11-20T13:48:28.718Z · score: 7 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Given that you just wrote a whole post to say hi and share your background with everyone I'm pretty confident you'll fit right in and won't have any problems being too shy. Writing a post like this rather than just commenting is such a less wrong kind of thing to do so I think you'll be right at home.

comment by Bae's Theorem (Senarin) · 2018-11-20T17:21:02.593Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's very kind of you, thank you. It means a lot.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-11-20T10:27:37.598Z · score: 7 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Do I have this right? You were an atheist, as an adult; then you became an evangelical Christian (!); and then you read HPMOR, found Less Wrong, stopped being an evangelical Christian (or did you?) and became a passionate rationalist?

Can I ask what beliefs, or lack thereof, you were raised with?

comment by Bae's Theorem (Senarin) · 2018-11-20T17:19:48.907Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, that is the correct sequence of events. I was raised in a Christian household, but the first belief I truly held for myself was atheism. I am no longer a Christian or theist in any way.

comment by ChristianKl · 2018-11-20T16:54:27.914Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think the act of starting a rationality dojo needs high intelligence. There are the existing CFAR techniques out there and you don't need to invent new techniques to have a dojo. I would expect the biggest challenge in organising a dojo is more about organizing people to come every week to the same place.

comment by Bae's Theorem (Senarin) · 2018-11-20T17:56:33.567Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Also, how would one go about acquiring these CFAR techniques? Is attending a workshop mandatory? I don't quite have the discretionary funds for that. :P

comment by ChristianKl · 2018-11-21T13:49:54.384Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

https://www.lesswrong.com/sequences/qRxTKm7DAftSuTGvj is a write up by one person that contains descriptions of a lot of CFAR techniques.

If you start a rationality dojo you might also email CFAR and as whether they have guidance (or whether you can get PDF of their handbook).

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2018-11-21T19:03:26.569Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

CFAR sent me their handbook when I was running a rationality high-school class a few years ago (before I had attended a CFAR workshop). I wasn't actually able to make super much use of it without the classes, but it was still somewhat useful, and shows that I think they are open to sending people material for teaching classes.

comment by Bae's Theorem (Senarin) · 2018-11-20T17:22:40.136Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One of the hallmarks of a typical dojo is that the Sensei will demonstrate techniques, and show how they are supposed to look once you have mastered them.

Is it possible that this is an optional feature, if only for a rationality dojo?

comment by ChristianKl · 2018-11-21T13:46:28.891Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's useful to have someone who has mastered a technique but it's not required. When you are in a good you can also work together to learn a technique together.

It's also possible that different people present techniques at different days.

comment by Motasaurus · 2018-11-21T20:59:26.779Z · score: -2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Hi Senarin.

I am also new to Less Wrong and also a Christian. I didn't write an introductory post - I guess I'm not "less wrong" enough yet (I didn't actually want to comment at all, having felt I haven't lurked enough). I don't think that there is any conflict between rationality and Christianity - and the writer of the gospel of John certainly didn't believe there to be.

For in the beginning was rationality. And rationality was with God and was God... and rationality became flesh and the world knew Him not.

comment by gjm · 2018-11-22T12:57:51.611Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Welcome! Please don't take the downvotes as a sign that you aren't welcome here. (They probably do indicate that things that look like proselytizing won't be well received, though.)

I think translating "λόγος" as "rationality" is a bit of a stretch. I don't know of any English translations that even render it as "reason", which is more defensible. I expect you're right that the authors of the New Testament didn't see any conflict between their beliefs and reason; people usually don't, whether such conflict exists or not; in any case, our epistemic situation isn't the same as theirs and it's possible that in the intervening ~2k years we've learned and/or forgotten things that make the most reasonable conclusion for us different from the most reasonable conclusion for them. (Examples of the sort of thing I mean: 1. The success of science over the last few centuries means that the proposition "everything that happens has a natural explanation" is more plausible for us than for them. 2. The author of John's gospel, or his sources, may have actually met Jesus, and perhaps something about doing so was informative and convincing in a way that merely reading about him isn't. 3. We know the history of Christianity since their time, which might make it more credible -- after all, it survived 2k years and became the world's dominant religion, which has to count for something -- or less credible -- after all, people have done no end of terrible things in its name, which makes it less likely that a benevolent god is looking on it with special approval. 4. We have different examples available to us of other religious movements and how they've developed; e.g., we might compare the early days of Christianity with those of something like Mormonism, and they might compare it with the Essenes.)

comment by Bae's Theorem (Senarin) · 2018-11-23T06:47:15.000Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hi, Motasaurus. I certainly hope you stick around! Don't let our disagreements drive you off.

However, on that note, I'm afraid I would have to disagree. While I think you can have "better than average" epistemology and still be a Christian, perhaps even be in the top 25% percentile, I don't believe you can aspire to be a perfect Bayesian and still be a Christian.

I would respectfully point out that the Apostle John is hardly a neutral spectator in determining whether one can be both Christian and Rational. Additionally, he certainly didn't have access to anywhere near the same level of understanding of human cognition, science, and probability theory as we do; to use an Eliezer illustration, the greatest physicists of his age couldn't have calculated the path of a falling apple.