Book I

Map and Territory

What is a belief, and what makes some beliefs work better than others? These four sequences explain the Bayesian notions of rationality, belief, and evidence. A running theme: the things we call “explanations” or “theories” may not always function like maps for navigating the world. As a result, we risk mixing up our mental maps with the other objects in our toolbox.

A
Predictably Wrong


  1. What Do I Mean By “Rationality”?
  2. Feeling Rational
  3. Why Truth? And…
  4. … What’s a Bias, Again?
  5. Availability
  6. Burdensome Details
  7. Planning Fallacy
  8. Illusion of Transparency: Why No One Understands You
  9. Expecting Short Inferential Distances
  10. The Lens That Sees Its Own Flaws

B
Fake Beliefs


  1. Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences)
  2. A Fable of Science and Politics
  3. Belief in Belief
  4. Bayesian Judo
  5. Pretending to be Wise
  6. Religion’s Claim to be Non-Disprovable
  7. Professing and Cheering
  8. Belief as Attire
  9. Applause Lights

C
Noticing Confusion


  1. Focus Your Uncertainty
  2. What Is Evidence?
  3. Scientific Evidence, Legal Evidence, Rational Evidence
  4. How Much Evidence Does It Take?
  5. Einstein’s Arrogance
  6. Occam’s Razor
  7. Your Strength as a Rationalist
  8. Absence of Evidence Is Evidence of Absence
  9. Conservation of Expected Evidence
  10. Hindsight Devalues Science

D
Mysterious Answers


  1. Fake Explanations
  2. Guessing the Teacher’s Password
  3. Science as Attire
  4. Fake Causality
  5. Semantic Stopsigns
  6. Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions
  7. The Futility of Emergence
  8. Say Not “Complexity”
  9. Positive Bias: Look into the Dark
  10. Lawful Uncertainty
  11. My Wild and Reckless Youth
  12. Failing to Learn from History
  13. Making History Available
  14. Explain/Worship/Ignore?
  15. “Science” as Curiosity-Stopper
  16. Truly Part of You

Interlude: The Simple Truth