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michael_vassar3 comments on Devil's Offers - Less Wrong

21 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 December 2008 05:00PM

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Comment author: michael_vassar3 25 December 2008 03:56:37PM 22 points [-]

"I flinched away from that thought's implications, not so much because I feared superintelligent paternalism myself, but because I feared what other people would say of that position."

This is basically THE reason I always advocate increased comfort with lying. It seems to me that this fear of believing what they don't want to say if they only believe truth is the single largest seemingly removable barrier to people becoming rationalists at all, or passing that barrier, to becoming the best rationalists they can be.

Comment author: iongantas 28 October 2010 06:50:50PM 8 points [-]

Can you expound on this just a bit. The second sentence is slightly difficult to parse, but sound like an interesting notion, so I'd like to be sure I understand what you said.

Comment author: JGWeissman 28 October 2010 07:31:09PM 19 points [-]

If you follow the rule that you honestly report your beliefs, and you believe something that other people disapprove of (they think it is crazy, immoral, whatever), then your rule says you have to honestly report your belief that other people disapprove of.

If you also don't want to report beliefs other people disapprove of, then you may wish to avoid acquiring beliefs that other people disapprove of.

This goal can contradict the epistemic rationalist's goal of acquiring accurate beliefs, when people disapprove of the truth. Therefore, (says Michael Vassar) discard the rule that you honestly report your beliefs, so that avoiding dissapproved of beliefs will not be your goal.

(An alternate solution is to be willing to report beliefs others disapprove of.)

Comment author: pnrjulius 06 June 2012 08:57:29PM 1 point [-]

There's a rather serious problems with that philosophy: It makes you a liar, which is often morally a bad thing to be. If you really eliminate all your discomfort with lying, you have converted yourself into a sociopath and probably become a scam artist to boot. You'll be like the guy selling "healing crystals" who knows full well that the crystals are bunk, but is making too much money to care.

My own solution is to think of disapproval as a relatively mild pain. We evolved to think that disapproval is one of the worst things in the universe, because back on the savannah it was: getting shunned meant getting killed.

But in a modern liberal society, you can be an atheist, a Singularitarian, a lesbian, a furry, and be disapproved of... and not actually die from this. In fact, usually it hurts about as much as a papercut. And since there may in fact be benefits to telling people you are these things---a more secular and pro-Singularity society for the former, more tolerance for your fellow lesbians and furries on the other---then speaking the disapproved belief is often precisely the right thing to do.

In some rare circumstances you can still die from disapproved beliefs---e.g. in Iran you can be hanged for being an atheist---in which case I honestly have no qualms about lying. I'll lie to torturers and murderers all day long if I have to.

It's a bit harder in intermediate cases, where the disapproval has real consequences but not fatal ones. But even then, one can escape most of the feelings of moral guilt by reminding oneself: I wouldn't be lying if they weren't bigots.

Comment author: PetjaY 01 December 2015 08:31:36PM 0 points [-]

Atleast in my social surroundings, lying has never been asked for when i have an non-acceptable opinion, just keeping my mouth shut about them would be enough.