Tell Your Rationalist Origin Story

To break up the awk­ward silence at the start of a re­cent Over­com­ing Bias meetup, I asked ev­ery­one pre­sent to tell their ra­tio­nal­ist ori­gin story—a key event or fact that played a role in their first be­gin­ning to as­pire to ra­tio­nal­ity. This worked sur­pris­ingly well (and I would recom­mend it for fu­ture mee­tups).

I think I’ve already told enough of my own ori­gin story on Over­com­ing Bias: how I was dig­ging in my par­ents’ yard as a kid and found a tar­nished silver amulet in­scribed with Bayes’s The­o­rem, and how I wore it to bed that night and dreamed of a woman in white, hold­ing an an­cient leather-bound book called Judg­ment Un­der Uncer­tainty: Heuris­tics and Bi­ases (eds. D. Kah­ne­man, P. Slovic, and A. Tver­sky, 1982)… but there’s no need to go into that again.

So, se­ri­ously… how did you origi­nally go down that road?

Added: For some odd rea­son, many of the com­menters here seem to have had a sin­gle ex­pe­rience in com­mon—namely, at some point, en­coun­ter­ing Over­com­ing Bias But I’m es­pe­cially in­ter­ested in what it takes to get the tran­si­tion started—cross­ing the first di­vide. This would be very valuable knowl­edge if it can be gen­er­al­ized. If that did hap­pen at OB, please try to spec­ify what was the cru­cial “Aha!” in­sight (down to the spe­cific post if pos­si­ble).