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September 25, 2019

Truth and existence are surprisingly complex concepts. The closer you examine them, the more complex they reveal themselves to be. What do we really mean when we make a claim like “this painting is not art” or “everything is subjective”? What exactly do we mean when we say “the color red” exists or that numbers exist? Philosophical questions like these are notoriously difficult to pin down precisely. We want to make it easier.

With that in m...

February 13, 2019

Most of us think we’re pretty good at forming accurate beliefs based on the evidence that is presented to us. In fact, in one study we ran we found that, on average, people viewed themselves as better than 70 out of 100 people of their demographic at “evaluating evidence reliability”. Now of course, only 30% of people can be in the top 30% at evaluating evidence, suggesting that most of us are overconfident in this capacity.

We think we can d...

November 26, 2018

There are a LOT of ways to make inferences – that is, to draw conclusions based on information or evidence. In fact, there are many more than most people realize. All of them have strengths and weaknesses that render them more useful in some situations than in others.

Here's a brief key describing most popular methods of inference. Do you rely more on some of these than you should, given their weaknesses? Are there others in this list that yo...

November 5, 2018

Clearer Thinking founder Spencer Greenberg shares some thoughts on two different ways to think about your life choices:

One of the biggest choices we face in life is whether to prioritize stability or acceleration.

By prioritizing "stability", I mean focusing on what you know works well for you in terms of people, routines, location, values, ideas, etc. and working to minimize the risk of losing them. Much of what our society conventionally co...

June 26, 2018

ClearerThinking founder Spencer Greenberg devised the following procedure for running informal experiments designed to help you identify and implement simple improvements for your personal routine. Click here to use a free tool that automatically walks you through this procedure step-by-step. ​

I recommend running personal experiments every month or two to find new ways to improve your life. The basic procedure is simple:

(1) Think of an impor...

May 31, 2018

ClearerThinking.org founder Spencer Greenberg created this framework for handling challenging situations. We hope you find it useful!

Here's a simple framework for thinking through situations that are causing you harm.

All the possible responses to such problems can usually be categorized into just four types: Exit, Alter, React, or ReframeClick here to use a simple tool that will walk you through this technique for analyzing any troublesome...

November 7, 2017

Everyone beats up on themselves and experiences self-defeating thoughts sometimes. But this tendency can sap your emotional energy and hurt your focus when you need it most. With some conscious effort, many such negative thoughts can be reframed in a productive, useful way. Here are 9 valuable ways to reframe common self-defeating thoughts:

1. "I just made a huge mistake! What on earth is wrong with me? How the hell could I be so stupid?"...

October 10, 2017

ClearerThinking founder Spencer Greenberg is a mathematician who likes to look for ways that numbers can express complex features of human life. This week, he describes a trick he uses to keep himself on the straight and narrow with everyday decisions.

A trick I find really useful which I've employed for years: thinking of myself as having sustained free will for only about the next 5 minutes, and assuming my distant future self has free will...

September 13, 2017

As we mentioned in our last newsletter, ClearerThinking founder Spencer Greenberg is a mathematician who likes to look for ways that numbers can express complex features of human life. He designed the following thought experiment to capture ethical intuitions in a number between 0 and 100. To find your number, read the scenario described below and think carefully about your answer. When you come up with one, compare it to the list of co...

July 25, 2017

There's a huge difference between riding on the back of a motorcycle once, and buying a motorcycle to ride every weekend, or between buying a cookie, and buying a box of 25 cookies, or between taking a boxing lesson once, and sparring regularly.

The difference, of course, is in scope. Even if you have a clear sense of the benefits and risks of doing something one time, the sum likelihood of experiencing these benefits and risks changes as you...

November 8, 2016

Some have argued that voting is irrational, since the only time it technically changes the election results is if there is a tie. But as 80,000 Hours points out in their thoughtful article on the topic, just 537 votes in Florida determined the outcome of the 2000 election, and a mere 366 votes determined the result in New Mexico that year. Indeed, when local support is close to evenly divided between two parties in your area, your vote can c...

September 28, 2016

Clearerthinking.org founder Spencer Greenberg has put a great deal of thought into the question of productivity, or how to accomplish the most in the time you have available. We thought we'd share some of his most useful techniques today, described in his own words. Try these tactics out to maximize your creative output and get the most out of the hours you spend working.

. . .

I think about the question of productivity a little differently fr...

January 12, 2016

Most people underestimate how often they are wrong. Not only is there a common human tendency to overestimate one’s own abilities, but beliefs have the property that they feel right to us when we focus on them. So even if we admit that we likely have a number of false beliefs, it’s easy to go on acting as though each of our individual beliefs is beyond serious doubt. Worse still, it’s disturbing to discover we’ve been mistaken about somethin...

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