Re: SOC: The Monkey God (Was: Cannot prove nor disprove a soul.)

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sat Jan 22 2000 - 17:12:47 MST

Some observations:

1) The ability to attribute causality, at all, occupies a direct
spectrum with attributing intentionality. That's just the way we do it
- from "A caused B" to "A converged to B" (i.e., like a thermostat) to
"A deliberately caused B". If you don't like it, build your own intelligence.

2) A theory which invokes the attribution of will and belief is more
dramatic than a theory which invokes impersonal forces, and therefore
has better memetic survival characteristics in the absence of
experimental testability (or the rationality heuristics accumulated by
people who use experiments).

3) "Faith" is almost certainly an independent emotion, a complex
functional adaptation with neural substrate. While the selective
pressures that produced faith (atheists being burned at the stake, or
simply going unmarried) are also likely to have screwed around with
whatever preexisting properties promoted belief in animistic religions,
one should not attempt to explain faith by reducing it to other
properties, except as a historical explanation of how the adaptation evolved.

Menno Rubingh wrote:
> Incidentally, this same theory also explains why people insist so vehemently
> (religiously) that 'qualia' are something real and that there simply HAS to be
> something of a 'soul' inside the human brain.

If you're going to extend it that far, it also explains why physicists
insist so vehemently that there are "laws" of physics and why people
insist so vehemently that there simply has to be something as
"gravitation". You should be very careful when attempting to explain
away belief by such a nonspecific algorithm; this is so general and
nonfalsifiable a method that it takes on the appearance and
functionality of an aggressive debating tactic rather than a rational argument.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Typing in Dvorak         Programming with Patterns  Writing in Gender-neutral
Voting for Libertarians  Heading for Singularity    There Is A Better Way

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