Part Five: Taking rational work seriously

HIV/SIV phylogenetic tree
HIV/SIV phylogenetic tree courtesy Thomas Splettstoesser

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Part Five puts meta-rationality to work.

Part Four explained meta-rationality in general. We looked at many specific examples, from many different fields, but they were brief, and may have left you wondering “how can I make this useful in my own work of rationality?”

Only you can answer that; meta-rationality bridges elegant abstract theory and the nitty-gritty specifics of real-world problems. You know about those, and I don’t.

However, between the fully general presentation and the details of the mess you personally will deal with today, there’s much to say about ways meta-rationality can help in particular fields. Indeed, a book, or many books, could be written about how to apply meta-rationality in any one domain of rational endeavor. I am unqualified to write any of those, not currently being an expert in any field. Still, I know enough about a few fields to make some suggestions.

Part Five explains ways to approach these meta-rationally:

  • Statistics (with probability theory as a warm-up)
  • Experimental science (with reference to the replication crisis and credibility revolution)
  • Software development
  • Entrepreneurship

I’ll end with a section I promised at the beginning of the book, explaining in detail how “HIV is the cause of AIDS” is true. You may find the answer surprising, and the details involving.