Filter This week

Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Open thread, Jul. 25 - Jul. 31, 2016

3 MrMind 25 July 2016 07:07AM

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post, then it goes here.

Notes for future OT posters:

1. Please add the 'open_thread' tag.

2. Check if there is an active Open Thread before posting a new one. (Immediately before; refresh the list-of-threads page before posting.)

3. Open Threads should start on Monday, and end on Sunday.

4. Unflag the two options "Notify me of new top level comments on this article" and "

Street Epistemology - letting people name their thinking errors

3 Bound_up 24 July 2016 07:43PM


Anthony Magnabosco does what he calls Street Epistemology, usually applying it to supernatural (usually religious) beliefs.


The great thing about his method (and his manner, guy's super personable) is that he avoids the social structure of a debate, of two people arguing, of a zero-sum one game where person wins at the other's loss.


I've struggled with trying to figure out how to let people save face in disputes (when they're making big, awful mistakes), even considering including minor errors (that don't affect the main point) in my arguments so that they could point them out and we could both admit we were wrong (in their case, about things which do affect the main point) and move on.


But this guy's technique manages to invite people to correct their own errors (people are SOOOO much more rational when they're not defensive) and they DO it. No awkwardness, no discomfort, and people pointing out the flaws in their own arguments, and then THANKING him for the talk afterwards and referring him to their friends to talk. Even though they just admitted that their cherished beliefs might not deserve the certainty they've been giving them.


This is applied to religion in this video, but this seems to me to be a generally useful method when you confront someone making an error in their thinking. Are you forcing people to swallow their pride a little (over and over) when they talk with you? Get that out, and watch how much more open people can be.

A rational unfalsifyable believe

1 Arielgenesis 25 July 2016 02:15AM
A rational unfalsifyable believe

I'm trying to argue that it is possible for someone rational to hold on to a believe that is unfalsifyable and remain rational.

There are three people in a room. Adam, Cain, and Able. Able was murdered. Adam and Cain was taken into police custody. The investigation was thorough but it remains inconclusive. The technology was not advanced enough to produce conclusive evidence. The arguments are basically you did it, no, you did it.

Adam has a wife, her name is Eve. Eve believed that Adam is innocent. She believed so because she has known Adam very well and the Adam that she knew, wouldn't commit murder. She uses Adam's character and her personal relationship with him as evidence.

Cain, trying to defend himself, asked Eve. "What does it take for her to change her believe". She replied, "show me the video recording, then I would believe". But there was no video recording. Then she said, "show me any other evidence that is as strong as a video recording". But there was no such evidence as well.

Cain pointed out, "the evidence that you use for your believe is personal relationship and his character. Then if there are evidence against his character, would you change your mind?"

After some thinking and reflection, she finally said. "Yes, if it could be proven that I have been deceived all these years, then I will believe otherwise."

All of Adam's artifact were gathered, collected and analysed. The search was so thorough, there could never be any new evidence about what Adam had did before the custody that could be presented in the future. All points to Adam good character.

Eve was happy. Cain was not. Then he took one step further. He proposed, "Eve, people could change. If Adam change in the future into man of bad character, would you be convinced that he could have been the murderer?"

"Yes, if Adam changed, then I would believe that it is possible for Adam to be the murderer." Eve said. 

Unfortunately, Adam died the next day. Cain said to Eve, "how do you propose that your belief about Adam's innocence be falsified now?"

"It cannot be falsified now." Eve replied. 

"Then you must be irrational."

  • Is Eve irrational?
  • Can believing an unfalsifyable believe be rational?
  • Can this argument be extended to believe in God?

Weekly LW Meetups

0 FrankAdamek 29 July 2016 03:45PM

New meetups (or meetups with a hiatus of more than a year) are happening in:

Irregularly scheduled Less Wrong meetups are taking place in:

The remaining meetups take place in cities with regular scheduling, but involve a change in time or location, special meeting content, or simply a helpful reminder about the meetup:

Locations with regularly scheduled meetups: Austin, Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Buffalo, Canberra, Columbus, Denver, Kraków, London, Madison WI, Melbourne, Moscow, New Hampshire, New York, Philadelphia, Research Triangle NC, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Vienna, Washington DC, and West Los Angeles. There's also a 24/7 online study hall for coworking LWers and a Slack channel for daily discussion and online meetups on Sunday night US time.

continue reading »