I listed about 40 beliefs the first time I sat down and tried to do this. Organized by subject, like “On Morality”, “On Science & the Universe”, etc.
It almost doubled in length in the second year to about 70 beliefs. It was still largely tracked on a subject basis.
I added a bunch of stuff to the top and all around the beliefs to better explain the system of tracking beliefs over time and reviewing them frequently. I think I realized at this time just how valuable the project was to my own sense of well-being, and I hoped others would find it useful too. I also added a section for my “favorite ideas” because these too seemed to shift and grow over time in a way that was useful to occasionally review.
I tried something new this year, and attempted to organize by beliefs by the type of belief they were instead of by their subject. I was really interested in understanding the structure of beliefs, and coming up with language to describe how beliefs were shaped in our brains, and how they served different functions. I think this is where I lost a lot of people… whereas before people would see the Codex and say “Wow, I want to make one” now they said “Wwow, that looks complicated. I could never do something like that.”
I stuck with this system for another year, cleaning it up, trying to explain it better and make it feel less intimidating. I continued to add new beliefs and change old ones as well, with the count growing to around 115. But my interests had shifted a bit to Cognitive Biases which were one level deeper than beliefs.
More shuffling, more cleaning up. But I think I saw the writing on the wall this year and realized that this new structure wasn’t going to hold where this needed to go.
I refactored everything to come back to be organized by subject, but kept a bit of structure to separate beliefs that were about how I saw the world, and beliefs about how I thought the would should be. The first set includes beliefs that could potentially be proven wrong with new information, but the second set was more a matter of opinion. This turned out to be really useful in my continued exploration of biases and arguments, because this small difference in the belief makes a bit difference in how you form them, and how you talk about them.
Starts tomorrow, in a new place (aka here). The subject categories have been cleaned up a bit more, and I’ve shifted to using tags (marked by emoji) to show how some beliefs are about information (🧠 the head), values (❤️ the heart), and strategy (✋ the hand). And I also added a 🔥 tag to any that are particularly sensitive to me, and an indicator for how confident I am in the belief (💪 or 🤞).
We’ll see where it takes us.
The image used in this post is the motto of “The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge”. The phrase “nullius in verba” is Latin for “Take nobody’s word for it.” It’s probably the best way to describe the power of tracking beliefs.