The Course of Reason

Julia Galef at UC Santa Cruz on “How to Change Your Mind”

February 12, 2014

On January 23rd, Julia Galef, co-founder and president of the Center for Applied Rationality and co-host of the Rationally Speaking podcast, visited the Secular Student Alliance at UC Santa Cruz to give a public lecture entitled "How to Change Your Mind." Julia spoke of ways humans are often very irrational in our decision-making, but also how we can overcome our irrationality with critical thinking and some clever thought experiments. Some examples she covered included how to tell when a task you routinely perform is ineffective and how to rethink difficult life decisions to help determine which plan of action is most logical.

Approximately 20 people attended Julia's talk, about half of which were members of our student group. The other half were other UCSC students and a few members of the local skeptic community. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the talk, as there was a lively question and answer session that lasted about a half hour afterward. We came away from the talk with several tools for applying rationality in our own lives as well as a convincing argument that increasing rational thinking is a desirable goal to have in the first place.

Our goal in bringing in Julia was to help foster a better environment of rational and logical thinking, since the Santa Cruz community seems to harbor a unique hub of pseudoscience and woo. Our student group continually strives to work against this potentially dangerous type of thought, and we believe having Julia share her expertise with us was a step in the right direction towards our goals.

Overall our experience with Julia Galef was very positive, and we would recommend any student group interested in the tools and methods of applied rationality to contact Julia about having her speak.

flyer for julia galef lecture 
The flyer SSA@UCSC used to promote their event.

 

About the Author: Rob Carman

Rob Carman's photo
Rob Carman is the current president of the Secular Student Alliance at the University of California Santa Cruz. He is a mathematics graduate student at UCSC studying the representation theory of finite groups.

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