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Fredsie comments on Belief in Belief - Less Wrong

66 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 29 July 2007 05:49PM

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Comment author: Fredsie 23 February 2009 01:35:44PM 2 points [-]

Chelo: "I don't think we ever posess true knowledge."

I KNOW I went to Tesco's this morning. Am I wrong? Discuss!

Main post "The claimant must have an accurate model of the situation somewhere in his mind, because he can anticipate, in advance, exactly which experimental results he'll need to excuse."

I know this is a bit of a side issue, but how do you justify this claim from the example given? You don't need such a model to give the answers he gives. Surely you once engaged in late-night undergraduate pseudo-intellectual discussions where you held an ultimately untenable viewpoint but still fended off such questions on the fly?

Perhaps though this is just a problem arising from the rather simplistic metaphor. A dragonista can postulate a dragon and then, as in your example, refute all challenges by simply denying all interactions with the real world, although then of course he's not really saying anything at all. The religionist has a much more difficult trick to perform. He cannot take the dragonista's line as his god must interact in some way with the world to have any meaning. He is faced with having to reconcile the interactions he needs from his god (e.g. responses to prayer) with the apparent absence of physical evidence for them. This DOES require the building of the consistent framework you propose, so that he can fend off new challenges without falling into a trap which concedes the non-existence of his god. The convolutions exhibited by fundamentalist Christians when trying to construct such a reconciliation between what they need to believe and the contrary evolutionary evidence are a better example of this.