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SforSingularity comments on Why the beliefs/values dichotomy? - Less Wrong

20 Post author: Wei_Dai 20 October 2009 04:35PM

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Comment author: SforSingularity 26 October 2009 07:53:07AM 0 points [-]

ungrounded beliefs can be adopted voluntarily to an extent.

I cannot do this, and I don't understand anyone who can. If you consciously say "OK, it would be really nice to believe X, now I am going to try really hard to start believing it despite the evidence against it", then you already disbelieve X.

Comment author: DanArmak 26 October 2009 08:39:19PM *  1 point [-]

I already disbelieve X, true, but I can change that. Of course it doesn't happen in a moment :-)

Yes, you can't create that feeling of rational knowledge about X from nothing. But if you can retreat from rationality - to where most people live their lives - and if you repeat X often enough, and you have no strongly emotional reason not to believe X, and your family and peers and role models all profess X, and X behaves like a good in-group distinguishing mark - then I think you have a good chance of coming to believe X. The kind of belief associated with faith and sports team fandom.

It's a little like the recent thread where someone, I forget who, described an (edit: hypothetical) religious guy who when drunk confessed that he didn't really believe in god and was only acting religious for the social benefits. Then people argued that no "really" religious person would honestly say that, and other people argued that even if he said that what does it mean if he honestly denies it whenever he's sober?

In the end I subscribe to the "PR consciousness" theory that says consciousness functions to create and project a self-image that we want others to believe in. We consciously believe many things about ourselves that are completely at odds with how we actually behave and the goals we actually seek. So it would be surprising if we couldn't invoke these mechanisms in at least some circumstances.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 27 October 2009 12:59:31AM 2 points [-]

someone, I forget who, described a religious guy who when drunk confessed that he didn't really believe in god and was only acting religious for the social benefits.

generalizing from fictional evidence

Comment author: DanArmak 27 October 2009 09:12:44AM 1 point [-]

When I wrote that I was aware that it was a fictional account deliberately made up to illustrate a point. I didn't mention that, though, so I created fictional evidence. Thanks for flagging this, and I should be more careful!

Comment author: RobinZ 27 October 2009 01:07:19AM 1 point [-]

Worse: fictional evidence flagged as nonfictional -- like Alicorn's fictional MIT classmates that time.

Comment author: Alicorn 27 October 2009 01:10:35AM *  3 points [-]

My what now? I think that was someone else. I don't think I've been associated with MIT till now.

MIT not only didn't accept me when I applied, they didn't even reject me. I never heard back from them yea or nay at all.

Comment author: Yvain 27 October 2009 01:15:40AM 2 points [-]

That was me.

Of course, irony being what it is, people will now flag the Alicorn - MIT reference as nonfictional, and be referring to Alicorn's MIT example for the rest of LW history :)

Comment author: RobinZ 27 October 2009 01:31:34AM 2 points [-]

Attempting to analyze my own stupidity, I suspect my confusion came from (1) both Alicorn and Yvain being both high-karma contributors and (2) Alicorn's handle coming more readily to mind, both because (a) I interacted more with her and (b) the pronunciation of "Alicorn" being more obvious than that of "Yvain".

In other words, I have no evidence that this was anything other than an ordinary mistake.

Comment author: Alicorn 27 October 2009 01:35:48AM 1 point [-]

I've been imagining "Yvain" to be pronounced "ee-vane". I'd be interested in hearing a correction straight from the ee-vane's mouth if this is not right, though ;) I've heard people mispronounce "Alicorn" on multiple occasions.

Comment author: wedrifid 27 October 2009 02:27:49AM *  1 point [-]

I've heard people mispronounce "Alicorn" on multiple occasions.

You mean Alicorn is a real name? I had assumed a combination of Alison and Unicorn, with symbolic implications beyond my ken.

I've been imagining "Yvain" to be pronounced "ee-vane".

"Ye-vane" here, with the caveat that I was quite confident that it was way off.

Comment author: Alicorn 27 October 2009 02:34:19AM 2 points [-]

No, it's not a real name (as far as I know). It's a real word. It means a unicorn's horn, although there are some modern misuses mostly spearheaded by Piers Anthony (gag hack cough).

Comment author: RobinZ 27 October 2009 01:44:11AM 0 points [-]

I've been saying "al-eh-corn" in my mental consciousness. Also "ee-vane", which suggests my problem being less "Yvain is hard to pronounce" than "Yvain doesn't look like the English I grew up speaking".

Incidentally, I can't remember how to pronounce Eliezer. I saw him say it at the beginning of a Bloggingheads video and it was completely different from my naive reading.

Comment author: Alicorn 27 October 2009 01:49:38AM 2 points [-]

"Alicorn" is pronounced just like "unicorn", except that the "yoon" is replaced with "al" as in "Albert" or "Alabama". So the I is an "ih", not an "eh", but you can get away with an undifferentiated schwa.

Comment author: arundelo 27 October 2009 01:54:03AM 1 point [-]

ell-ee-EZZ-er (is how I hear it).

Comment author: RobinZ 27 October 2009 01:18:33AM 0 points [-]

*checks*

Yvain's fictional MIT classmates.

I swear that wasn't on purpose.

Comment author: SilasBarta 27 October 2009 02:36:53AM 0 points [-]

What's fictional about that?

Ready to pony up money for a bet that I can't produce a warm body meeting that description?

Comment author: RobinZ 27 October 2009 02:42:47AM *  0 points [-]

I prefer not to gamble, but just to satisfy my own curiosity: what would the controls be on such a bet? Presumably you would have to prove to Knight's satisfaction that your unbelieving belief-signaler was legitimately thus.

Comment author: SilasBarta 27 October 2009 03:09:23AM 0 points [-]

I think my evidence is strong enough I can trust Douglas_Knight's own intellectual integrity.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 27 October 2009 05:25:31AM 3 points [-]

I think my evidence is strong enough I can trust Douglas_Knight's own intellectual integrity.

Huh. My last couple of interactions with you, you called me a liar.

Comment author: SilasBarta 27 October 2009 03:26:08PM 0 points [-]

Okay, I found what I think you're referring to. Probably not my greatest moment here, but Is that really something you want sympathy for? Here's the short version of what happened.

You: If you think your comment was so important, don't leave it buried deep in the discussion, where nobody can see it.

Me: But I also linked to it from a more visible place. Did you not know about that?

You: [Ignoring previous mischaracterization] Well, that doesn't solve the problem of context. I clicked on it and couldn't understand it, and it seemed boring.

Me: Wait, you claim to be interested in a solution, I post a link saying I have one, and it's too much of a bother to read previous comments for context? That doesn't make sense. Your previous comment implies you didn't know about the higher link. Don't dig yourseelf deeper by covering it up.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 27 October 2009 04:30:28PM -1 points [-]

Oh, yeah, I'd forgotten that one. Actually, I was thinking of the following week.

Is that really something you want sympathy for?

I just want you to go away. I was hoping that reminding you that you don't believe me would discourage you from talking to me.

Comment author: SilasBarta 27 October 2009 04:48:01PM *  -1 points [-]

Oh, yeah, I'd forgotten that one. Actually, I was thinking of the following week.

That's not calling you a liar. That's criticizing the merit of your argument. There's a difference.

Comment author: SilasBarta 27 October 2009 01:57:37PM -1 points [-]

Well, what possessed you to lie to me? ;-)

j/k, j/k, you're good, you're good.

A link would be nice though.

And I believe that, even taking into account any previous mistrust I might have had of you, I think my evidence is still strong enough that I can trust you consider it conclusive.