RE: origin of beliefs

From: Peter C. McCluskey (
Date: Tue Aug 14 2001 - 09:10:08 MDT (Lee Corbin) writes:
>Yes, there are a certain, though limited number of examples where
>fitness is improved by false belief.

 I believe there is a wide variety of questions for which the benefits
of thinking in ways that your acquantances are comfortable with
exceed the benefits of searching for the truth. There are many issues
where my knowledge of the truth has virtually no effect on my fitness
(e.g. the death penalty, the number of angels who can fit on the tip
of a pin, and maybe even whether humans evolved from single-celled
organisms), except to the extent it can demonstrate my intelligence,
morality, etc. to other people.

>That would only work if you had some confidence or faith in those
>who liked the other candidate.

 Yes, if those people are behaving no better than random number generators,
then Robin's advice isn't useful. I don't think this is the case often
enough to be important.

> 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.

 I believe it normally does follow that you should do so (i.e. increase
your estimate of the probability that God exists).

> You may have concluded
>that they are simply out to lunch for some reason (explanation).

 Concluded that you can be certain they are "out to lunch"? Or merely that
they probably are?
 If you mean probably, then Robin's analysis appears to imply that you
should believe there is some chance that they know something you don't,
and adjust your beliefs to acount for this chance.
 If you are truly certain, then I would be very interested how you acquired
this certainty. Not just that many of them are "out to lunch", but that the
best are.

Peter McCluskey          | Free Dmitry Sklyarov! | 

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