The Betterment Institute

ideologies you choose.

About the project



making or becoming better;


verb, noun

a facility or habit to build, create, raise, or educate;

The word ideology is drenched with dark meaning. And yet, we are saturated with them. Rituals of thought, feeling, and action thrust upon us by the tiny sliver of the world we inhabit and the people with whom we have shared ideas. These are protective—graceful solutions to an impossibly complex world. Yet, remarkably dangerous left unexamined. Ideologies should be chosen, not ignored. Instituted with care, not by default. btrmt is about the ideologies you choose.


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Analects and Anthologies


The goal is to help you discover your own ideologies, just as I have discovered mine. Ideologies should emerge from an architecture of thought. Heuristics or frames through which we filter the world to make some of all the chaos into meaning. To point even our errors in the right direction. The Analects are a collection of frames. It's up to you to choose the right ones. Each article is typically a self-contained 'ideology'. A particular cut on an idea, with the evidence considered and a decision made. You don't have to adopt it, but it should at least spark a conversation. The best of these are curated on the Anthologies pages and the latest of these can be found at the top of the Articles.

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Marginalia and Missives


The marginalia and the missives are my shorter communications. Marginalia are my notes on interesting content from around the web. Missives comprise the newsletter and the changelog, so you can keep track of what's happened since you were last here. Of course, you can get the newsletter in your inbox too, or get everything in the RSS feed.

Project Petrichor Logo

Project Petrichor


Humans, of all the animals, have the greatest capacity for nurture. Our capacity to thrive is due to our ability to adapt, and our ability to adapt is merely a reflection of our ability to come together and share ideas. And yet, as James we are often “half awake. Our fires are damped, our rafts are checked… the human individual lives usually far within his limits”. Project Petrichor is the institute's manifesto for why, and how, like petrichor, we can rise again after the rain.
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Neurotypica: a Guide


Usually, when people talk about an enthusiasm for 'neuroscience' and the 'brain', they're really interested in cognition—how 'thinking' happens. People want the instruction manual for this device in the head that they've been told controls their behaviour. Neurotypica is that manual---a guide to brain and behaviour.
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The Armchair Collective


Humans, of all the animals, have the greatest capacity for nurture. Our capacity to thrive is due to our ability to adapt, and our ability to adapt is merely a reflection of our ability to come together and share ideas. The Armchair Collective is a place to do just that.

Things to Read


May 9, 2022

Updates to All Food is Toxic.

April 30, 2022

After the move from "the Armchair Collective" to btrmt, the articles were named "The Armchair Collection" so old readers would find familiarity there. After some (vocal) feedback, the interim 'Armchair Collection' is gone. Now the articles are just the articles. Membership to The Armchair Collective is still by invitation only (for now), but everyone will always have access to the articles.

Updates to four common causes of relationship conflict.

February 28, 2022


How and why fringe theories stack:

believing that Earth is flat essentially requires that you think that NASA’s achievements are part of an elaborate conspiracy: there is no ability to travel to the Moon, nor are the photographs of a globular Earth from space authentic.

Reminds me of the contrarian cluster.

The logical mystic---on Witgenstein's Tractictus:

Simply, the truly religious was outside of speech. It could only be “shown” – and, as he puts it in Tractatus, “what can be shown cannot be said.”

To call a religious belief or practice “false” is, to use a basic philosophical term, to commit a category error. Truth and falseness belong to the sorts of “facts” which make up the world, the meaningful propositions of language. Religious belief – the mystical – is not a fact of this sort, and therefore to submit it to the truth tests of propositional logic is incorrect.

My work consists of two parts; that presented here plus all I have not written. It is this second part that is important.

1977 study shows that science has always leaned into its rituals:

Experimental results showed that--contrary to a popular assumption--the reasoning skills o f the scientists were not significantly different from those o f nonscientists

he scientists in this study appeared to be strongly inclined toward early speculation with relatively little experimentation ... Both of these phenomena--the apparent pen- chant for quick speculation and tenacious fidelity to a hypothesismhave been observed as relatively common phenomena in the scientific culture

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