RE: origin of beliefs

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Thu Aug 09 2001 - 17:38:05 MDT

Robin Hanson wrote

> Lee Corbin wrote:
> > > What would we do with if we found out that reason is a minor factor?
> >
>> Reason *is* a minor factor! We obtain our initial beliefs in any given
>> area by various processes ... an entire gestalt very quickly calculated
>> by your brain. ... Reason will have nothing to do with it.
> Of course if evolution had primarily wanted us to hold true beliefs, it might
> have made those unconscious processes mirror reason in many ways,
> including the use of criticism. So the question is to what extent brains
> evolved to seek truth, vs. other goals for beliefs.

Yes, there are a certain, though limited number of examples where
fitness is improved by false belief.

>> So, now that we were free to *conjecture* a new belief,
>> guess what? We immediately seized upon the belief that
>> was the most emotionally compelling, to wit, the one that
>> favored our own candidate in a highly charged election.
> Once you realize that you are biased toward your candidate, you can correct
> your beliefs without elaborate use of reason. Just move your beliefs
> in the direction of beliefs favored by those who like the other candidate.
> If you realize you have this option, and choose not to use it, I think you must
> admit to yourself that you are not really truth-seeking in this area.

That would only work if you had some confidence or faith in those
who liked the other candidate. As an example, suppose that you
do not believe in God, but wish to be as truth-seeking as possible.
It does not follow that you should "move your beliefs in the direction
of beliefs favored" by those who are religious. You may have concluded
that they are simply out to lunch for some reason (explanation).

However, I am interested in any other brief tricks that you may know of
to assist one in being really truth-seeking.


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