Fan mail to Eliezer Yudkowsky

Dear Eliezer,

I can’t thank you enough for opening my eyes to the methods of rationality. My life has fundamentally changed because of it. I was once abounding in confidence when it was unnecessary, and oozing faux skepticism at things I did not agree with. I patted myself on the back for my abilities to reach the truth. This truth that I thought I had, I also thought was unobtainable for others. I wasn’t necessarily smarter, I just told myself that I was more consistent. My bubble of friends confirmed my existing beliefs.

As of April 2016 when I finished HPMOR, that’s all changed. I can’t say that my life is now easier. But it did provide me with 3 essential gifts:

I now believe that it is possible for other people to reach a truth that is backed by reality, not subjectivity. I don’t have to be alone with my knowledge. If truth is backed by reality, then a method of understanding said reality will lead to a common understanding. This common understanding will allow people to communicate and cooperate more easily. This was unfathomable to me six months ago.

I feel helplessly compelled to ask the same questions to everyone I meet. “What do you know, and how do you know it?” This is a blessing in disguise. Before, I would instantly dismiss pseudo science health hacks. Now I actively seek to understand. After all, it’s possible that it works based on real science. This new habit forces me to understand the fundamentals of science, not just the abstract principals.

This is what I am most thankful for. This gift is the most precious one I own. I now must know the truth. I am drawn endlessly to this never ending quest for truth. I can no longer settle for “Well I believe it, and it works for me.” I cannot accept that. If it works for those people, great. But I personally must know why it works for those people.

I am forever grateful for you taking the time to write out HPMOR. I tell all of my friends about it, so they can open their eyes too.

Your fan,
David Richelson