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htimsxela comments on Be secretly wrong - Less Wrong

30 Post author: Benquo 10 December 2016 07:06AM

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Comment author: htimsxela 14 December 2016 09:42:02AM 0 points [-]

I think the point in time when an individual stops keeping a belief secret and is willing to declare it in public is an interesting one. There are two main variables: how confident is the individual in their belief being true? and how much does the individual care about the social and cultural stigma against being wrong? These thresh-holds would be different for different individuals, and would govern the point at which they are willing to make a public claim.

Related to this, I see two major reasons a person would form a secret belief: they are unsure if they are correct, or they are afraid of social or cultural backlash of being wrong (and certainly it could be a combination of both).

I wonder, does advocating for 'secret beliefs' create a system in which public beliefs are put on a higher pedestal, thus increasing the social and cultural barriers to making a public claim? You advocate for pursuing truth through public debate, yet by identifying the importance of secret beliefs you help to affirm the social and cultural barriers that impede public debate in the first place. Its a bit of a conundrum.

In any case, it seems that publicly presenting a belief leads to better outcomes than harbouring it as a secret, in the sense that in doing so the individual will maximize the amount of information they receive as feedback, thus helping to either confirm or refute their stated claim. So it follows that a culture that embraces public debate will be superior, as a lower barrier to the acceptability of 'wrongness' will allow individuals to most efficiently discover logical beliefs.

Obviously eliminating the 'secret space' of the mind is impossible, it is the dialogue of the self! So it seems that in an ideal case, once an ontology has been built in the mind, an individual can join the public discourse and have the tools to understand what constitutes truth, using collective knowledge to discover it more efficiently than they could on their own.

Comment author: waveman 14 December 2016 10:38:39AM 2 points [-]

afraid of social or cultural backlash of being wrong

Fear of backlash is not a function of being wrong, but of being seen to be wrong.