Examples of Rationality Techniques adopted by the Masses

Hi Every­one,

I was dis­cussing LessWrong and ra­tio­nal­ity with a few peo­ple the other day, and I hit upon a com­mon snag in the con­ver­sa­tion.

My con­ver­sa­tion part­ners agreed that ra­tio­nal­ity is a good idea in gen­eral, agreed that there are things you per­son­ally can do to im­prove your de­ci­sion-mak­ing. But their point of view was that, while this is a nice ideal to strive to for your­self, there’s lit­tle progress that could be made in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion, who will re­main ir­ra­tional. Since one of the mis­sions of CFAR/​LW is to raise the san­ity wa­ter­line, this is of course a prob­lem.

So here’s my ques­tion, some­thing I was un­able to think of in the spur of the ar­gu­ment—what are good ex­am­ples of ra­tio­nal­ity tech­niques that have already be­come com­monly used in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion? E.g., one could say “the sci­en­tific method”, which is cer­tainly a kind of ra­tio­nal­ity tech­nique that’s go­ing semi-wide adop­tion (though nowhere near uni­ver­sal). Are there any other ex­am­ples? If you send a ran­dom from to­day back in time, other than spe­cific ad­vances in sci­ence, will there be any­thing they could teach peo­ple from the old days in terms of gen­eral think­ing?