Rational Thinking

Why don’t they teach this in high school?!? Or even college, for that matter. That’s the reaction that my wife and I had after attending Columbus Rationality meetings. This subgroup of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio, an affiliate of the American Humanist Association, hosts a wide variety of events devoted to advancing rational thinking strategies.


My wife and I aren’t alone in our reactions – many attendees report having similar experiences. After an event focused on effective decision-making, one participant reported in feedback sheets distributed afterwards that “this was a great presentation that will help me make more effective decisions”; another stated “discussing decision-making together with other members of this group really helped me realize some problems with my decisions and how I can make better decisions in the future”; a third stated “I will think more deeply and thoroughly, and make a clear plan, before committing to major life decisions.”


Another event, on rational approaches to violence, illuminated the motivations behind using physical force, the approaches taken by different martial arts to violence, the application of objective risk analysis to physical force, and gaining situational awareness. The audience was highly impressed with what they learned, with one participant reporting that “I will be much more likely to think rationally about physical force,” and another stating that s/he “enjoyed reflecting on this challenging topic in a community with others.” Many of those who start coming as regular participants end up giving talks about various topics of interest to them, such as my wife on making decisions effectively; myself on setting and achieving goals; Caleb Pitkin, a Methodist Pastor, on being rational and religious; and plenty of others. In fact, Intentional Insights, the nonprofit devoted to promoting rational thinking and emotional intelligence, emerged from our experience at Columbus Rationality.


Previous Intentional Insights blog posts have highlighted the benefits of reflecting on values and morals together with others in your community and social circle. In addition to promoting rational thinking, events like these provide three crucial elements that combine to help people gain a sense of meaning and purpose in life – reflecting on meaning and purpose, acquiring stronger community and social bonds, and helping others. Additionally, attending such events is a great way to practice goal factoring — a method for finding the most effective ways to achieve your end goals (check out this very helpful goal factoring template created at the Center for Applied Rationality, one of the many great resources listed on the Intentional Insights resource page.


Do you think you might benefit from attending a group devoted to promoting rational thinking? If so, check out these meetups dedicated to this goal, mainly aimed at people who already have some advanced knowledge of cognitive neuroscience and psychology. If you are interested in starting your own group, Intentional Insights also helps provide resources for creating groups meant for those in the early stages of engaging with research-based strategies on rational thinking and emotional intelligence. These groups work especially well when combined with local reason-minded groups, which have many affiliates around the country, as illustrated by this post.


We offer a “Rationality” group starter package, which includes two blog posts describing “Rationality” events, three videos, a facilitator’s guide, an introduction guide, and a feedback sheet. Get in touch with us at info@intentionalinsights.org to get connected to current participants in “Columbus Rationality” who can give you tips on setting up such a group in your own locale. Look forward to hearing from you about your experience!