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lessdazed 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: lessdazed 29 July 2011 05:09:27AM 1 point [-]

The question was not what would convince someone without prior belief; the question was what would convince me as a Christian,

This could mean at least two things, one right, one wrong. I do not know what you mean.

If I pick up a book, and read page 54, and then 53, and then 55, I will think certain things about the world. If instead I had read 53, then 54, then 55, and if doing so would have led me to think different things about the world upon concluding my reading, there is a problem with me as an information collecting and judging agent.

Comment author: Arandur 29 July 2011 12:18:18PM 0 points [-]

It means that, having been born into the covenant, and not having any of the qualms and confusion that apparently are a common result of being born into religion, I therefore have a bias, which may or may not be irreparable, which, if it is, may or may not be unfortunate. Eliezer said that noticing one's confusion was the first step to changing one's mind. I can boldly state, without qualm: I am not confused. Everything I have learned about Mormonism is internally consistent, and consistent with my own ideas on morality. There is a God, and He is my Father, who loves each of us as a child. Joseph Smith was a true prophet, ordained of said God to restore His church in these, the latter days of the world.

Comment author: lessdazed 29 July 2011 01:45:22PM 0 points [-]

may or may not be unfortunate

Let possible states of the world be represented by A, B, C, etc. Let's say A is true.

An agent that decides to believe that the world is represented by the theory that comes earliest alphabetically will be fortunate as it will believe true things, but it isn't discerning at all.

An agent that believes the contents of books when it reads the book's chapters in sequential order and disbelieves the contents of books when it chooses to read the chapters in reverse order is not an agent designed to discern truth, however lucky it gets deciding how to read each book it reads.

I'm just trying to ask to what extent you don't resemble an optimal thinker in this particular way no human totally succeeds at, one possibility would be for you to deny that this human tendency is a flaw. Some people may disproportionately be influenced by the last book they read, others by the first, others by the one's with nice covers, etc.. All I'm trying to get at is to see if you agree it's bad to be a decider that is influenced by the order it gets information in (except for to the extent the order constitutes information, but this isn't really an exception).

Someone could claim that truth of a proposition is commensurate with the age of the oldest book containing it, and such a person would not mean what anyone else means by "truth", and would be wrong to the extent they are trying to communicate.

Likewise truth isn't usually bound to the order of evidence. If I read a pamphlet advocating Islam, and then one advocating Mormonism, I ought to reach the same exact conclusions as if I had read them in the other order. If I don't, I may happen to come to believe the correct thing, but this is true of any decision process, even the alphabetical one.

The question was not what would convince someone without prior belief; the question was what would convince me as a Christian, and in order to do that, first you would have to convince me to step off my Christianity tower.

the conversion process would be two-tiered: first a strong positive evidence for Islam/Judaism/whatever, and second a strong disconfirmation of Mormonism

I've tried my hardest to erase my preconceived notions and start from scratch.

having been born into the covenant, and not having any of the qualms and confusion that apparently are a common result of being born into religion, I therefore have a bias, which may or may not be irreparable

In the first two quotes above, you seem to disagree with what I say, in the latter two, you seem to agree.

Comment author: Arandur 29 July 2011 04:05:58PM 0 points [-]

The confusion, I reckon, comes from my inability to step outside myself. I am not a perfect rationalist; I am trapped to an extent by the concepts taught to me since birth, just as I find myself uncomfortable with my gender identity due to growing up in an abusive household. It is difficult to step outside one's own biases. So yes, my bias may be irreparable. As for "unfortunate", the odds of it being an unfortunate bias are exactly the odds of Mormonism being true. If I believe the truth, then I am fortunate. It is the chance that my bias is unfortunate that drives me ever to refine my understanding, and never stop questioning my premises.

I'm just trying to ask to what extent you don't resemble an optimal thinker in this particular way no human totally succeeds at, one possibility would be for you to deny that this human tendency is a flaw.

It's not not a flaw. I'm just struggling to determine to what extent my belief in my religion is due to prior bias, and to what extent it's due to rational thought.

Comment author: Alicorn 29 July 2011 02:41:12PM 2 points [-]

Everything I have learned about Mormonism is internally consistent, and consistent with my own ideas on morality.

This sounds very convenient for you. Do you consider the church's consistency with your morality to be evidence that your morality is correct, or that the church is? Especially if the latter, what evidential status do you consider people whose morality disagrees at least partly with the church to have?

Comment author: Arandur 29 July 2011 04:23:54PM 0 points [-]

Oh, yes, it's very convenient. :P Well, not always. A good example is the recent fight over Prop 8, wherein the Church's morality came into sharp contrast with the morality of many outside it. (I will not say "most", because it was in fact the vote of California citizens which decided the matter, and not the Church.) To showcase the inconvenience without revealing overmuch about my personal life, I will simply state that I have many personal friends who were outraged at my decision to stand with my Church on the matter.

The church's consistency with my own morality is, I think, evidence that the Church is correct. Without the church, my morality would still exist. As far as others' conflicting moralities...

.....

That's an interesting question, actually. What evidential status does my conflicting morality have on yours?

Comment author: Alicorn 29 July 2011 05:41:36PM 0 points [-]

The church's consistency with my own morality is, I think, evidence that the Church is correct. Without the church, my morality would still exist.

Without your morality, the church would still exist, too, wouldn't it?

What evidential status does my conflicting morality have on yours?

Some, but not more than the average dissenter - less than a typical clever consequentialist found around these parts, and not even as much as the ideologically similar votes of Mormons I'm friends with and have had a chance to question in more detail. But that's not quite the same question, because I developed the framework of my own morality independently, and am not backed by a large institution. What I want to know is more along the lines of: why is your morality agreeing with the LDS church evidence for the LDS church, which is not overwhelmed by the majority of human beings whose moralities disagree with yours/the church's, or overbalanced by the humans whose moralities agree with those of other religions?

(If you were using "evidence" in a sufficiently technical sense that this overwhelmingness/overbalancedness was in fact noted and simply left unmentioned as strictly irrelevant to what I originally asked, I retract the question, but I suspect otherwise.)

Comment author: Arandur 29 July 2011 11:54:40PM 0 points [-]

I was in fact using evidence in that technical a sense, but I'll answer your question anyway.

...why is your morality agreeing with the LDS church... not overwhelmed by the majority of human beings whose moralities disagree with yours/the church's, or overbalanced by the humans whose moralities agree with those of other religions?

Because morality is not a binary attribute. You can't go out on the street and ask them, "Do you agree with the Mormons, yes or no?" Well, you could, but then if they answered no, you'd have to ask them how many people they killed today. It's exactly that fallacy that leads fundamentalist Christians /shudder/ to claim that atheists love to rape and murder and... I dunno, engage in bestiality or something.

So no, other peoples' moralities don't sway me particularly much, because a) they don't matter as much to me as my own morality - as I think you'd agree with, saying "not more than the average dissenter"; and b) because the consonance between my morality and Mormonism isn't that much of an evidence in its favor. I was using it mainly as a contrast between myself and all the people who have posted saying that Christianity made them feel "wrong".

Comment author: lavalamp 29 July 2011 07:33:37PM 0 points [-]

I saw this on the side while reading an unrelated post...

The church's consistency with my own morality is, I think, evidence that the Church is correct. Without the church, my morality would still exist.

I'm much more inclined to think it's evidence that you were raised in the church, or in a culture influenced by the church, etc...

If I rephrase what you said, it's "Party X's agreement with me on subject Y is evidence that Party X can think well and is probably right about other things, too." Please tell me you meant something else...

PS: You seem capable of updating, judging from a few of the comments in this thread, and you seem to care about the truth. The next step is to stop holding your own beliefs to a different standard of evidence than you do other beliefs. I hope you find your time in the soon-to-be-formerly-theistic camp more fun than I did.

Comment author: Arandur 29 July 2011 11:36:44PM 0 points [-]

Your point is only applicable inasmuch as you took my quote out of context. I was asked to choose one of two options; I chose the one that seemed most right to me. I could be wrong, but your point doesn't answer to the original question.