Guiding Principles

“If we care about knowledge, freedom, and peace, then we need to stake a strong claim: anyone can believe anything, but liberal science—open-ended, depersonalized checking by an error-seeking social network—is the only legitimate validator of knowledge, at least in the reality-based community.” –Jonathan Rauch, The Constitution of Knowledge, 2021

ThoughtStretchers Community is guided by two core rules and ten commitments, adopted from the work of Rauch, that uphold and foster the application of liberal science.


The fallibilist rule: No one gets the final say. You may claim that a statement is established as knowledge only if it can be debunked, in principle, and only insofar as it withstands attempts to debunk it.

The empirical rule: No one has personal authority. You may claim that a statement has been established as knowledge only insofar as the method to check it gives the same result regardless of the identity of the checker, and regardless of the source of the statement.

Ten Commitments


The ethos that any of us might be wrong thus we strive to keep our ideas open to criticism.


Understanding that truth is not based on feeling, identity, or a person's/group’s lived experience.


A commitment to the idea of objective reality because what lies beyond that is chaos.


A commitment that all ideas and viewpoints are subject to challenge by the community.


A commitment to offering our ideas for critique in good faith and acknowledge when we’re wrong.


Valuing viewpoint diversity and a commitment to encourage, and seek it out.


A commitment to discourage and avoid personal attacks and, instead, depersonalize rhetoric.


A commitment to valuing the credentials and reputations of this reality-based community.


A commitment to valuing and relying upon established norms and codes of conduct.

No Bullshitting

A commitment to sincerely regard the truth instead of obscuring it.