Re: Open Letter to Lee Crocker

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Thu, 22 Jul 1999 17:35:09 -0500

Paul Hughes, I strongly suspect that you and Crocker are using entirely different definitions of the word "belief". You're defining it as an assertion that is believed with 100% probability and is probably emotionally supported. Crocker is defining it as a probabilistic assertion, which probability is *not* necessarily 50% or greater, but which *is* more likely (to within, say, an order of magnitude) than any alternate assertions.

That's why I said that neither Crocker nor I "believed" in anything, and why Crocker said that refusing to believe in anything is a form of moral cowardice. I meant that certainties are unnecessary, and Crocker meant that claiming to refuse all judgement (as to which of two assertions is
*more* plausible) is being afraid to say anything because you might be
proved wrong. (It's also dishonest; you can't avoid such judgements and remain functional.)

Do you believe that you can't believe in anything? This strikes me as being inconsistent.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way