Sep 13, 2016 - Anna Salamon

Grant from Open Philanthropy Project

The Open Philanthropy Project recently announced a grant to CFAR for $1,035,000 across the next two years, earmarked toward a combination of improving our organizational competence, providing scholarships for promising effective altruists and similar folk to attend CFAR workshops, and assisting with SPARC and EuroSPARC. We very much appreciate the grant, and we are looking forward to putting it to work improving CFAR and streamlining SPARC operations. (We recently ran...

Oct 6, 2015 - Julia Galef

Deliberate Grad School

A useful post from CFAR co-founder Andrew Critch's personal blog describes how to get the most out of graduate school -- especially if you want to maximize your positive impact on the world. Sample tip (this is 1 of 8): Find a flexible program. PhD programs in mathematics, statistics, philosophy, and theoretical computer science tend to give you a great deal of free time and flexibility, provided you can pass...

Sep 15, 2015 - Julia Galef

Insights from the alumni reunion

Is it my imagination, or is there something about being in windswept landscapes -- especially by the water -- that makes it so much easier to come up with new insights? Last month over 100 CFAR alumni from around the world converged on Asilomar State Beach, on the edge of Northern California, for our second annual reunion. And I know I wasn't the only one whose frequency of exclaiming, "Whoa!...

Aug 19, 2015 - Julia Galef

Why learning to fix little "bugs" can make a big difference

We spend a fair amount of time at CFAR workshops tackling "bugs" in our daily lives. But does learning to solve small problems really make a big difference? Recent CFAR alum and Oxford student, Ben Albert Pace, posted this thoughtful discussion of the "debugging" mindset on his personal blog. Excerpt below; read the whole thing here. ~ One criticism of the utility of getting better at solving these, is that...

May 8, 2015 - Julia Galef

Back from Boston

We're back from running our first-ever rationality workshop in Boston. (Well, actually, a rustic retreat in Harvard, MA, about 50 minutes outside of Boston). We usually try a few new things each time we run a workshop, while keeping most of our tried-and-true features constant. This workshop was no exception. For one, we had an unprecedentedly large cohort of participants: 38 instead of our typical 25, which seemed to work...

May 5, 2015 - Julia Galef

Q&A: Isn't self-deception sometimes productive?

We'll be taking people's questions about life, philosophy, and rationality, and giving them our best off-the-cuff answers here on the CFAR blog. Q: "How do we confront the fact that having false beliefs is sometimes more efficient and productive?" A: I'm willing to accept that, in principle, false beliefs can help you achieve your goals. But in practice, I think self-deception is rarely your best option. Basically, the problem with...