My full-time job is the Center for Applied Rationality, which I co-founded in 2012. We’re a non-profit organization based in Berkeley, CA, with the mission of developing, testing, and training people in strategies for reasoning and decision-making. (Here’s a list of some of sample skills.) We’ve run over 20 workshops in San Francisco, New York, Boston, the UK, and Australia, and we manage a network of over 500 alumni worldwide.
We sometimes put on workshops for companies like Facebook and Twitter, but our main focus is individuals. In particular, we look for individuals who are motivated to improve the world: researchers, teachers, philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, and others whose positive impact on the world can be amplified with extra rationality skill.
In 2013, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn pledged $100,000 per year for five years to send Estonian students to CFAR’s workshops, saying, “It’s important for our future to have researchers and innovators with strong rationality skills, who can think about risks, and make solid plans and follow through on them.” In 2014, MIT physicist Max Tegmark said, “CFAR was instrumental in the birth of the Future of Life Institute,” the organization he co-founded to study global catastrophic risk.
My other baby is the Rationally Speaking Podcast, which I co-founded in Jan. 2010 and have hosted solo since April 2015. I feature conversations with scientists, social scientists and philosophers, such as Sean Carroll, Phil Tetlock, Paul Bloom, Andrew Gelman, Peter Singer, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Topics on the podcast range widely, from hard science to ethics to culture. But I’m particularly keen on guests with an interesting thesis we can debate — for example, “Psychiatry is pseudoscience,” or “People should use logic to determine where to donate their money,” or “Conspiracy theories can be rational.” Obviously, I don’t have to fully agree, or disagree, with the thesis. What I’m shooting for is the kind of collaborative debate whose goal is actually figuring out a complex question together, rather than each of us trying to “win.”
Julia Galef homepage