Months ago, a group of people including Anna Salamon gave a battery of standard rationality tests (e.g. Frederick’s CRT) to attendees of a Less Wrong meetup group. When she scored the tests, she discovered the group had hit the ceiling on most of the questions. For example, their mean CRT score was 2.69 (n=32), which is much better than Harvard and MIT students do on these tests.
Rationality is different than intelligence, and rarer (see Stanovich’s What Intelligence Tests Miss). Rationality also seems to be teachable, but almost nobody is teaching it. As a result, almost everybody is thoroughly irrational in dozens of ways (see Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow).
Including we atheists. Which is why I write so many posts about atheists being wrong. A debate between an atheist and a theist almost always looks like two angry generals sending their soldiers across the field of battle, showing all the classic signs of motivated cognition and cognitive override failure.
The difference in rationality between a top-tier atheist blogger and a top-tier Christian blogger is often negligible. But the difference between either one of them and Anna Salamon is immediately noticeable. Mostly, I suspect, because Anna tries harder. She has read thousands of pages of material on the cognitive science of rationality, practices rationality exercises every week, and surrounds herself with some of the most rationality-dedicated people in the world.
Rationality is a real thing. That you can learn. With it, you can improve your life and avoid stupid mistakes, like dying of a curable disease even though you’re a billionaire because you wasted time on alternative medicine.