Just for context, I personally never used any of the softenings (I didn’t even hear about rationalish till this post). They’re both cute but ultimately meh in my opinion.
Aspiring rationalists is pretty much redundant, since a rationalist isn’t someone who claims to be rational, but indeed someome who aspires to be. So unless you aspire to aspire, there’s no point to the term.
I like Rationalish as a pun, but I think it solves the same nonexistent problem.
One person I’m 99% certain I’ve heard use “rationalish” and “aspiring rationalist” repeatedly is Julia Galef. She does a lot of communication with outside experts from other fields, and I imagine that fielding the implied status questions with grace is a persistent challenge in her line of work.
I do think it’s well worth meditating on the idea that there is no problem with “rationalist,” and cultivating a sense of benign confusion and simple explanation of the term if/when people object.
“I’m a rationalist.”″Uh, so you think you’re smarter than everyone or something?”
“It just means a formal study of how to pick the right goals and decision-making procedures, and pursuing them effectively.”