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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 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.