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pjeby comments on Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism - Less Wrong

105 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 21 April 2009 02:44AM

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Comment author: pjeby 21 April 2009 05:35:06PM *  9 points [-]

speaking globally, one cannot be a rationalist of any quality and exempt some assertion from the standards of rationality.

You can't speak globally when it comes to the human brain.

Sure, if brains had any sort of global consistency or perfect internal software reuse, you could say that being a rationalist rules out believing in irrational things.

But as a practical matter, you can't insist on consistency when someone might simply not have thought of applying the same logic to all their beliefs... especially since MOST of the beliefs we have are not perceptible as beliefs in the first place. (They just seem like "reality".)

In addition, our brains are quite capable of believing in contradictory things at the same time, with one set controlling discourse and the other controlling behavior. In work with myself and others who have no conscious religious beliefs, I've often discovered, mid-mindhack, that there's some sort of behavior in the person being driven by an unconscious desire to go to heaven or not be sent to hell. So even someone who thinks they're an atheist can believe in silly things, without even knowing it.

So, IMO, it makes as much sense to ban people with supernatural beliefs, as it does to ban people who have idiotic beliefs about brains being consistent.

Actually, come to think of it, the belief that people's brains must be consistent IS a supernatural belief, as there's no physical mechanism in the brain that allows O(1) updating of belief structures that don't share common components. To insist that the moment one becomes a rationalist, one must then become an atheist, is to insist on a miracle inconsistent with physics, biology, and information science.

So, if we are going to exclude people with inconsistent or supernatural beliefs, let's start with the people who insist that the brain must be supernaturally consistent. (This is actually pretty reasonable, since such an error in thinking arises from the same mind-projection machinery that gives rise to theism, after all...)