"Why Is It So Hard to Be Rational?"

Joshua Rothman writing in the New Yorker 1 about rational thinking:

In Silicon Valley, people wear T-shirts that say “Update Your Priors,” but talking like a rationalist doesn’t make you one. A person can drone on about base rates with which he’s only loosely familiar, or say that he’s revising his priors when, in fact, he has only ordinary, settled opinions. Google makes it easy to project faux omniscience.

The points on meta-thinking 2 (and the anecdote about Petrov saving the world) are spot on.


  1. *cough cough* ↩︎

  2. For no particularly strong reason, I prefer “meta-thinking” over the fancier, more accepted metacognition 🤷. ↩︎

Jim Bagrow
Jim Bagrow
Associate Professor of Mathematics & Statistics

My research interests include complex networks, computational social science, and data science.