Earlier today I talked to someone about why so few rationalists are continuing the work of developing rationality. I said that there actually seemed to be many rationalists working on mental technology. The problem is that he did not seem to be a fan of what people are actually working on. He would prefer they work on stuff closer to the CFAR handbook. There are some people working on things like that. For example my friend Shrikant and his group.
However a lot of rationalists who are ‘actually trying’ have gotten into somewhat ‘weirder’ things. Here are some of the topics:
- Internal Family System / Tulpamancy / Headmates / Doing what you want
- Meditation (in particularly high amounts of ‘noting’ as a practice compared with ‘count the breath’)
- Social Reality (ex On Social Harmony, Truth, and Building a Culture)
- Psychedelics / MDMA (also combining drugs with DIY therapy)
- Gendlin’s Focusing
- Unlocking the Emotional Brain
It is perhaps not obvious why ‘actually trying’ would correlate with openness to unusual ideas, even among rationalists. But perhaps it is not surprising at all. Eliezer had a lot of weird ideas. People who actually take up his mantle are not going to be afraid of getting into weird stuff. People who just like the community are more likely to stick to the basic rationalist stuff. Personally, I love the people who are carrying on the mantle of the sequences instead of trying to seem normal.