Rationalist Storybooks: A Challenge

Follow-Up to: On Juvenile Fiction

Related to: The Simple Truth

I quote again from JulianMorrison, who writes:

If you want people to repeat this back, write it in a test, maybe even apply it in an academic context, a four-credit undergrad course will work.

If you want them to have it as the ground state of their mind in everyday life, you probably need to have taught them songs about it in kindergarten.

Anonym adds:

Imagine a world in which 8-year olds grok things like confirmation bias and the base-rate fallacy on an intuitive level because they are reminded of their favorite childhood stories and the lessons they internalized after having the story read to them again and again. What a wonderful foundation to build upon.

With this in mind, here is my challenge:

Look through Eliezer’s early standard bias posts. Can you convey the essential content of one of these posts in a 16-page picture book, or in a nursery rhyme children could sing while they skip rope?

Write the story, and post it here. Let’s see what we can come up with.

This is not, by any means intended to be a simple challenge. On the one hand, we are compressing a lot of information into a small space. On the other, good fiction is not easy, and children’s fiction is no exception.

We have two options. We can humbly admit that we are not skilled writers of children’s fiction and walk away, or we can determine that this is a task which needs to be completed, produce lots of really bad fiction, and begin the process of criticizing one another, learning from our mistakes, and growing stronger.

When I was a boy, I had a thick book of 365 short stories, some not even taking up a full page. Each was self-contained, and I could flip open the book at random and find a story I hadn’t read before.

How quickly would our community grow, both in strength and in numbers, if we could crowdsource a Rationalist’s Book of Tales?

I know, I know. It’s optimistic. It’s ambitious. Most of all, it seems really silly.

Let’s do it anyway.