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In response to comment by ctuck on Mere Messiahs
Comment author: TheOtherDave 11 June 2012 05:28:35PM 4 points [-]

In effect it's saying that you trust the validity of the accounts that the people in the bible wrote, but you believe that you (A person who was not there at that time and who has even less knowledge about the actions of Jesus) are more qualified to judge his motives than the people who actually witnessed Jesus' actions in person.

This happens all the time in real life. It only sounds silly if you ignore the fact that the writers are a subject one can have knowledge about.

If Sam tells me stories about A and B, and I know a lot about A, I can compare Sam's account of A to my knowledge of A to make inferences about the distortions introduced by Sam's narrative, and I can use those inferences to arrive at a different story about B than the one Sam told, which I consider more reliable than the one Sam told, despite my knowing less than Sam does about B.

In response to comment by TheOtherDave on Mere Messiahs
Comment author: ctuck 11 June 2012 06:29:12PM *  1 point [-]

That kind of reasoning is definitely possible, and maybe in some cases useful.

But I think the inferred story B is much less reliable than an account of B from a reliable source. Usually when people do this type of historical profiling, they treat their inferences of how things "really happened" with the same weight as an eyewitness account. Probably because "Jesus may have possibly been a schizophrenic narcissist but there's no conclusive evidence to support this" doesn't sell as well.

Edit: I'm not sure if I explained myself propperly so here's a little more to show why I don't like this kind of second hand reasoning.

If you ask a bank robber if he just robbed a bank, most likely he will tell you "No I did not rob that bank." He has reasons to lie to you, so it makes sense that you shouldn't trust him.

However, just because a known bank robber tells you that he didn't rob a bank doesn't mean its not true. Perhaps he was out of state when the bank was robbed. Or perhaps he intended to rob the bank, but someone beat him to it. Or perhaps he DID rob the bank and is trying to prove his innocence. The point is, you don't know.

Knowing how someone would falsify a story, does not prove or disprove the validity of it. It just gives you cause to be wary. Any assumptions you make based off of an untrustworthy source are just as likely to be correct as they are to be false.

In response to Mere Messiahs
Comment author: TGGP4 02 December 2007 03:25:29AM -1 points [-]

The most interesting take on the actual historical Jesus is in Psychology of Prophetism by Koenraad Elst, which claims that Jesus was a schizophrenic narcissist who personally authored Revelations, was a near-anarchist who denounced the Romans and that all the peaceful sayings attributed to him were later additions intended to pacify the Romans.

In response to comment by TGGP4 on Mere Messiahs
Comment author: ctuck 11 June 2012 03:53:37PM 4 points [-]

I've never really cared for such attempts to psychoanalyze historical figures because it always comes down to conjecture. The Bible is the most extensive (if not the most accurate) documentation of Jesus' life. Aside from that, we know very little about him save for the long reaching effects that his supposed deeds had on human society.

If you don't trust the bible as a valid source that's fine. A lot of people don't. But without it there just isn't enough information on Jesus to try to determine his personality, beliefs, or motives with any certainty.

Even more disconcerting is the idea that someone could use the bible as evidence against the picture of Jesus that the bible is presenting. In effect it's saying that you trust the validity of the accounts that the people in the bible wrote, but you believe that you (A person who was not there at that time and who has even less knowledge about the actions of Jesus) are more qualified to judge his motives than the people who actually witnessed Jesus' actions in person.

Although, I do think the idea of Jesus as a schizophrenic narcissist makes for great fiction, or perhaps an interesting hypothetical discussion.

Comment author: KnaveOfHearts 27 May 2012 06:49:52PM 0 points [-]

Nick_Tarleton, this is just proving that, while you may have processed the fundamentals of correspondance bias, you have not completely processed the concept of false consensus, as you are using an example of this in your post.

You say "Shouldn't we all care about saving the world?", this is false consensus; assuming your opinion would be mirrored by a gross overestimate of relevant individuals than the actual statistic of individuals that share your opinion. While Kavembuangga is demonstrating, with your interpretation of the quote you sampled, extreme cynicism, and you yourself are demonstrating extreme optimism, both are examples of false consensus and correspondance bias. You, I believe, have, unfortunately, fallen into the hole you were warned the location of, told the way to avoid, and given the means to avoid in this article.

In answer to your question, I would say "It depends on the circumstances surrounding, and the opinions constructing that individual.".

Comment author: ctuck 30 May 2012 03:38:02PM 2 points [-]

I don't think it's a false consensus at all to ask a question like "Shouldn't we all care about saving the world?".

Taken literally, there can be no consensus to a question. Both the question asker and answerer can share a consensus about the answer to the question, but the question itself has no definitive truth value and therefore cannot be agreed upon (assuming the question does not presume information).

However, even if you assume that the question was hypothetical it's still not a case of false consensus. The hypothetical question would translate to the statement "We should all care about saving the world". This is a statement of Nick_Tarleton's opinion. Nothing he's said implies that he believes that everyone or even the majority of people agree with his opinion. He has only stated what that opinion is.

If he had asked the hypothetical question "Doesn't everyone care about saving the world?" or stated "Everyone cares about saving the world" that would be a different matter completely. Then he would be implying that others shared his view without providing any statistical reasoning to back it up.

Comment author: ctuck 14 May 2012 07:16:13PM *  2 points [-]

I think that Public_Heretic and Eielizer are actually having a disagreement about the definition of the word "Category".

If Eliezer says that a Category is "a label applied to a set of words that describe things which are similar", Then he is correct to say that a Category is "Wrong" or "not a proper category" if the words contained in the set do not describe things which are similar.

If Public_Heretic defines a Category as "a label applied to a set of words that describe things", then he is correct in saying that there can be no wrong or false categories, so long as the label is applied to a set of words.

I'm sure they would both agree to the point that a label applied to a set of words that describe things which are similar is more useful than a label applied to a set of words that describes things which are not similar.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 05 April 2012 07:29:32PM 1 point [-]

I would say, rather, that:
G = God exists
N = The existence of God is not revealed directly to humanity
M = Miracles occur
...and we're talking about P(G|N) and P(G|M) and not talking about P(T) at all.

More generally, T seems to be a red herring here.

That said, I agree that there's a presumption that M implies ~N... that is, that if miracles occurred, that would constitute the direct revelation of God's existence.

And yes, one could argue instead that no, miracles aren't a revelation of God's existence at all, but rather a test of faith. A lot depends here on what counts as a miracle; further discussion along this line would benefit from specificity.

Comment author: ctuck 05 April 2012 07:54:10PM *  1 point [-]

I agree that T in and of itself is problematic.

Your N seems more likely what the author intended, now that you point it out.

Though I still don't think anyone who thought about it for more than 20 seconds would ever assert that N could be used as evidence for G.

But using that as a model would probably serve well to underscore the point of Conservation of Evidence

If the fact that God has not been revealed directly to humanity is evidence for the existence of God. Then should God ever reveal himself directly to humanity, it would be evidence against his existence.

That's probably the statement Eliezer intended to make.

Comment author: ctuck 05 April 2012 06:49:40PM *  1 point [-]

Hi, I'm new here but I've been following the sequences in the suggested order up to this point.

I have no problem with the main idea of this article. I say this only so that everyone knows that I'm nitpicking. If you're not interested in nitpicking then just ignore this post.

I don't think that the example given bellow is a very good one to demonstrate the concept of Conservation of Expected Evidence:

If you argue that God, to test humanity's faith, refuses to reveal His existence, then the miracles described in the Bible >must argue against the existence of God.

Assuming I'm reading this correctly:

Our Prior is P(G) = The probability that God Exists (let's assume this is the Judeo-Christain God since that seems to be the intended target)

P(T) = the probability that God is Testing Humanity by not revealing his existence

P(M) = the probability that the Miracles of the bible are true.

The issue that I find with this is that P(G|T) = 1

If God is testing Humanity by hiding his existence there is a 100% chance that God Exists. I was going to write out the whole Bayesian equation to explain why this is true, but I think it's pretty intuitive. P(T) cannot be evidence for P(G) since it assumes that P(G) is true.

Another issue is that the way this is written you're implying that P(M) = P(~T). But this is not true, since the Miracles of the bible existing is not the direct opposite of God testing humanity by not reveling his existence. Unless you intend to completely twist the argument that most people are making when they say assert P(T) as truth. They aren't saying or even implying that God wants there to be no evidence at all of his existence. Most theist would instead argue that the existence of miracles are a part of God's test for humanity. They say that God sent us miraculous signs and prophets instead of just coming down and saying "Hey humanity, I'm God" because he wanted to test our faith. Had they the mathematical language, they would say that P(T|M) > P(T), meaning M serves as evidence of T. Not P(M) = P(~T)

Though this whole concept of God "testing humanity by not revealing himself" does seem more like an example of Belief in belief, where P(T) was devised as a means to justify the existence of an invisible God, I still feel like the example you've given is a bit of a stretch.