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Courage

TagLast edit: 19 Aug 2020 1:23 UTC by Ruby

Courage is important to being rational. You will not be very rational if you are too scared to act differently to the people around you, or too scared to even think about very big ideas—these are the two main threads touched on in this tag.

Related Tags: Fallacies, Groupthink, Heroic Responsibility, Heuristics and Biases, Motivated Reasoning, Rationalisation, Self-Deception

More thorough explanations of the importance of courage can be found here and here. Suggestions for how to improve or become more courageous in this sense can be found here and here.


If a fire alarm goes off, but everybody around you is sat still as though they can’t hear it, what do you do? Well, apparently, nothing (for 90% of people). Even when your options are ‘be a little embarrassed’ or ‘maybe burn to death’, people still struggle to have the courage to stand up and act how they know makes sense. Cultivating the ability to know when you’re right, regardless of how other people are acting, may be an important step for you becoming more rational.

Similarly, it’s important to rationalists to take ideas seriously, because otherwise you can’t make any progress to figuring out if they’re right or wrong. Many of the really important-seeming ideas (like AI risk, other existential risk, and even what would happen if AI went ‘right’) are scary. Even just visualising their consequences if they were true can be scary—just like theists who insist that, without god, there would be no morality (despite the notable absence of atheist baby-murderers). However, these ideas may also be the most important to think about before they happen specifically because they are so scary. You can’t dodge a knife if you’re pretending it doesn’t exist.

Lonely Dissent

Eliezer Yudkowsky28 Dec 2007 4:23 UTC
68 points
84 comments4 min readLW link

No Safe Defense, Not Even Science

Eliezer Yudkowsky18 May 2008 5:19 UTC
53 points
67 comments6 min readLW link

You Can Face Reality

Eliezer Yudkowsky9 Aug 2007 1:46 UTC
84 points
36 comments1 min readLW link

To Lead, You Must Stand Up

Eliezer Yudkowsky29 Dec 2007 6:38 UTC
38 points
38 comments2 min readLW link

On Ex­press­ing Your Concerns

Eliezer Yudkowsky27 Dec 2007 4:04 UTC
43 points
35 comments3 min readLW link

Beyond the Reach of God

Eliezer Yudkowsky4 Oct 2008 15:42 UTC
132 points
279 comments11 min readLW link

Two Cult Koans

Eliezer Yudkowsky21 Dec 2007 5:45 UTC
97 points
100 comments2 min readLW link

Leave a Line of Retreat

Eliezer Yudkowsky25 Feb 2008 23:57 UTC
118 points
73 comments4 min readLW link

There’s No Fire Alarm for Ar­tifi­cial Gen­eral Intelligence

Eliezer Yudkowsky13 Oct 2017 21:38 UTC
97 points
67 comments25 min readLW link

Bik­ing Beyond Mad­ness (link)

hirvinen22 Oct 2009 15:16 UTC
25 points
6 comments1 min readLW link

Notes on Courage

David_Gross24 Oct 2020 22:32 UTC
12 points
3 comments5 min readLW link

Cu­ri­os­ity needs courage

Amir Bolous25 Mar 2021 3:38 UTC
23 points
1 comment3 min readLW link
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