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Rationality and the Reflective Mind 10: The Assessment of Rational Thought


This final chapter ties together the progress made so far, and paints a picture of what the scientific study of rationality holds in the future. Really, there is so much that could be done. In another life I think this would be the line of work I would pursue.

There is no rationality equivalent to an IQ test. Further, there may be no way (logistically speaking) to make a single test that measure the “RQ.” Rationality, broadly speaking, encompasses a huge variety of mental dispositions and mindwares. Since rationality is basically a measure of functionality at a very high level- the level of the organism- many, many factors may play into being both epistemically and instrumentally rational. Just the difference between those two types may be worth creating an assessment by themselves. ERQ and IRQ.

It’s also unknown whether just a few questions might serve as a decent measure of a wide variety of rationality related measures. Maybe a lot of work can be done with just a few simple questions. Somehow what makes up rationality seems too diverse for that to make sense, but I suppose one could easily say the same about intelligence too.

Three large tables lay out citations backing up 1) potential ways to assess rationality with, 2) links between rationality and real world outcomes (helping to answer the question of how we know this is “really” rationality, or that these effects exist outside the lab, 3) interventions that have had some effect on increasing rationality, or correlations between increased rationality and other attributes that may hint at some causal relationship.

Best rationality book ever. I can’t wait for a decade from now when the second (third, fourth?) edition of this book comes out with huge updates. I wonder how widespread the ideas Stanovich puts forth actual are, and how popular they will become in the future.

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