RE: origin of beliefs

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Thu Aug 16 2001 - 10:51:58 MDT

On 8/9/01 Lee Corbin responded to my comment of 8/7/01:
> > 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).

Actually, I had in mind the point you responded to that:
> maybe the fact that I wanted Gore to win was a much more important factor
> in determining my position on recounts.

If you realize your position on recounts may be biased because you favor Gore,
you can correct for that by moving your position on recounts in the other
direction, even if you don't change your position on Gore at all.

Of course I also want to argue that you should be very cautious in assuming
that people are out to lunch, and therefore hold uninformative opinions,
simply on the basis that they disagree with you on a particular point. Such
judgements, if made at all, should be based on a much wider consideration of
evidence of their rationality etc, and a similar analysis of how rational
you would look under such an analysis.
(see or .ps)

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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