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Spurlock comments on Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences) - Less Wrong

110 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 July 2007 10:59PM

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Comment author: Spurlock 25 February 2011 07:40:26PM *  4 points [-]

It's sort of taken for granted here that it is in general better to have correct beliefs (though there have been some discussions as to why this is the case). It may be that there are specific (perhaps contrived) situations where this is not the case, but in general, so far as we can tell, having the map that matches the territory is a big win in the utility department.

In Joe's case, it may be that he is happier thinking he's beautiful than he is thinking he is ugly. And it may be that, for you, correct beliefs are not themselves terminal values (ends in themselves). But in both cases, having correct beliefs can still produce utility. Joe for example might make a better effort to improve his appearance, might be more likely to approach girls who are in his league and at his intellectual level, thereby actually finding some sort of romantic fulfillment instead of just scaring away disinterested ladies. He might also not put all his eggs in the "underwear model" and "astrophysicist" baskets career-wise. You can further twist the example to remove these advantages, but then we're just getting further and further from reality.

Overall, the consensus seems to be that wrong beliefs can often be locally optimal (meaning that giving them up might result in a temporary utility loss, or that you can lose utility by not shifting them far enough towards truth), but a maximally rational outlook will pay off in the long run.