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Leafy comments on How to Convince Me That 2 + 2 = 3 - Less Wrong

53 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 September 2007 11:00PM

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Comment author: Leafy 13 May 2010 09:10:39AM *  13 points [-]

There seem to be far too many people hung up on the mathematics which ignores the purpose of the post as I understand it.

The post is not about truth but about conviction. Eliezer is not saying that there could be a scenario in which the rules of mathematics didn't work, but that there could be a scenario under which he was convinced of it.

Deconstructing all elements of neurology, physics and socialogy that make up the pathway from complete ignorance to solid conviction is not something I could even begin to attempt - but if one were able to list such steps as a series bullet points I could conceive that the manipulation of certain steps could lead to a different outcome, which appears to me to be the ultimate point of the post (although not hugely ground-breaking, but an interesting thought experiment).

It is not a claim that the strongly held conviction represents fact or that the conviction would not be shaken by a future event or presentation of evidence. As a fundamental believer in scientific thought and rationality there is much that I hold as firm conviction that I would not hesitate to re-think under valid contradictory evidence.

Comment author: AndyCossyleon 29 July 2010 06:57:21PM *  1 point [-]

I wish I could vote you up so much more! The distinction between a-convincing-argument and what-it-would-take-to-convince-me is very real and overlooked by almost everyone posting here.

To take my own experience in becoming convinced of atheism, I sometimes like to think I accept atheism for the same reason that I accept evolution--because of the evidence/lack thereof/etcetera. But that is simply not the case. I accept atheism because of a highly personal history of what it took to get me, personally, to stop believing in Christianity, and start believing in something else that, as much as I would like to pat my rational self on the back, has fairly little to do with the arguments and evidence I heard on the matter.

When asking someone why they believe something or are convinced of it, "what is the reason?" and "what is your reason?" are two totally different questions.

Comment author: RobinZ 30 July 2010 01:52:11AM 4 points [-]

To take my own experience in becoming convinced of atheism, I sometimes like to think I accept atheism for the same reason that I accept evolution--because of the evidence/lack thereof/etcetera. But that is simply not the case. I accept atheism because of a highly personal history of what it took to get me, personally, to stop believing in Christianity, and start believing in something else that, as much as I would like to pat my rational self on the back, has fairly little to do with the arguments and evidence I heard on the matter.

It's possible that the reason you accepted atheism is different to the reason you currently accept atheism. To make an analogy, I use the QWERTY keyboard now because it's the industry standard and therefore the most likely keyboard layout for me to encounter on an unfamiliar machine, regardless of the fact that I learned the QWERTY keyboard because that's what was the setting on my computer when I started posting obsessively in the Dominic Deegan forums.