Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR)

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The Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR) is an adult education non-profit organization working to train effectiveness, discernment, and debiased thinking. CFAR runs workshops that help people improve both the quality of their mental toolkits and their fluency with them, while also nudging participants toward humanity’s most important and under-served problems.

About this charity

CFAR hopes to make a dent in the world’s largest problems (such as war, poverty, animal suffering, human longevity, and the development of artificial intelligence) by improving people’s ability to think clearly, communicate cooperatively, act effectively, and plan appropriately. CFAR draws on modern cognitive science, iterated experimentation, and individual case studies to develop models of human behaviour and design concrete, practical techniques for building awareness, discernment, mental flexibility, and robust motivation.

Since 2012, CFAR’s main method of delivering these techniques to people has been a set of immersive applied rationality workshops. Participants come together in cohorts of twenty to forty and spend four days working on their own unique problems and goals while the CFAR team helps them broaden and deepen their mental toolkits. Some of these workshops are general, covering a wide range of topics and skills, and others are deep dives into specific aspects of introspection and cognition, or are focused more on particular problem domains such as developing intuitions around artificial intelligence research.

CFAR typically operates out of the Bay Area in California, but has occasionally made it out to intellectual and professional communities in Boston, New York, London, Oxford, Prague, and Melbourne.

Donations to CFAR will fund either its research team or its participant scholarship program. Research dollars generally pay staff salaries, as instructors stay up-to-speed on developments in cognitive science, track the impact of CFAR’s techniques in their current form, and theorize and experiment with new mental algorithms and new strategies for teaching them. Scholarship dollars allow CFAR to avoid charging participants with lots of potential but few resources, such as those in graduate school or working on cutting-edge philanthropic startups.

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