Blog posts have been few and far between lately, and there are a few reasons for this.
I effected a big change in my life back in November when I chose to attend a four-day rationality workshop north of the city. Such workshops are essentially about productivity, learning about one’s motivations for doing things, expanding one’s comfort zone, and generally decreasing the gap between what you want to accomplish and what you do accomplish. The workshops are run by the Center for Applied Rationality. It’s a science-based effort, and the staff are all amazing people who do a great job, so check that out if it sounds appealing.
As a result of learning more about my own motivations for doing things, some of my behaviors have changed. First, I haven’t been keeping up with the atheist/humanist blogosphere as much as before. I found that I often read blog posts as a distraction from doing other things, and so I wanted to cut back, and use my valuable time to do things that were really important to me. Reading blogs has been put on the back burner, and I am happy with the decision. Instead I’m spending more time singing, playing guitar, studying new things (online courses are big for me right now), dating, etc.
I’ve also tentatively changed my mind about the effectiveness of blogs such as this one. I have learned a good deal about thinking rationally, lately. There are many things we can do to bring our beliefs more in line with reality, as well as sharpen our thinking on all kinds of matters. I’m talking about learning ways to avoid cognitive biases, studying probability theory, learning when our intuitions are giving us bad information, investigating ideas that make us feel uncomfortable, etc. The human failure to think rationally forms the basis of religious belief, but it also forms the basis of many other less-than-ideal thoughts and behaviors (e.g. belief in pseudoscience, or not wearing a seatbelt, or putting off writing this blog post all weekend just to do it in a hurry on Monday morning). Combatting “religion” doesn’t seem to combat the fundamental problem. Furthermore, the atheist effort sometimes seems to assert itself as this: “let’s find the next stupid thing that religious people have done, and blog about it.” I don’t know that such banging on about religion is a very helpful way to do it.
Of course, I know that many atheist/humanist blogs have helped and educated people, and given them a community to be a part of. I think that’s great, and I hope they will continue to do good work.
My personal focus right now is on two things: 1) learning to think better, and 2) learning to decrease the gap between what I want to accomplish and what I do accomplish. As a result, I may not have much to write here in the future. I may start another blog for the purpose of writing more about rationality or some related subject. We’ll see where this goes.