An Introduction

As I plan to recount in much more detail later in My Rationalist Origin Story, the basic origins of my current strain of thinking have their personal roots in conspiracy theory. I'd seen the movie *Zeitgeist* and went down the rabbit hole. I became a 12 year old fundamentalist libertarian atheist who believed that Obama's healthcare bill was unacceptable because it required the uninsured to pay a fine, and screamed at my monitor in the wee hours of the morning when I read that it passed. I also got into survivalism, and started getting into a wider and wider array of bizarre conspiracy theories. The problem wasn't necessarily that I was too credulous (though I absolutely was), it was that I had trouble controlling my anxiety about things even when they were dumb. Eventually I was nearing the point of mental breakdown with all the anxiety and horror I had conjured in my mind. I sincerely believed that I was destined to be a sort of fugitive, avoiding FEMA camps and political assassination for the rest of my life. In a certain sense, this crucible of manufactured anxiety was good for me because it for good and all burnt out the circuits that seem to cause most people fear in thinking about certain matters.

To recover from that mental breakdown, I had to create for myself a new way of thinking. It wasn't anything consciously designed, just little ideas and habits that slowly started to coalesce into a sort of wholistic approach. If I had designed it consciously however, the requirements might have been:

Pluralistic - I should be able to model and keep track of events as they fit into multiple plausible models of the world simultaneously, and thereby measure which sort of world it seems most likely I inhabit.

Reliable, Flexible Junk Filter - I should be able to 'filter out' the stuff which is of no value or has a minimal prior probability of being true, while still being able to consider non-obvious or counterintuitive ideas.

Evidence Based - Ideas I have should be kept in close contact with reality, when it's possible to collect evidence for and against my beliefs I should.

Small Identity - My patterns of thought should help keep my identity small so that I'm not overly invested in things. This is one of the keys to lasting happiness.

Self Aware - At around this same time I believed too highly of myself and my abilities, part of recalibrating my expectations back to reality was the realization that I should be looking at myself not just how I see me but from the lens of potential realities where things I believe, even core things I believe, might not be true.

Unlike My Rationalist Origin Story, I'm not going to talk too much more about how I came to develop my system of thought. Instead I will describe it as it exists now.