Today's post, Don't Believe You'll Self-Deceive was originally published on 09 March 2009. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):


It may be wise to tell yourself that you will not be able to successfully deceive yourself, because by telling yourself this, you may make it true.

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What would happen if we exchanged "imagine" for [claims of] "belief in"? e.g., "I chose to imagine the existence of God—deliberately and consciously."

I'm still working on internalizing this, Moore's Paradox, and Belief in Belief, but "imagine" seems to be a closer and maybe less frustrating fit for "simulation a subject runs in their head despite subject's own knowledge that the simulation doesn't correspond to external evidence". Do theists, theishts, etc. mean something different when they say "believe" and are simply using the word because it's the word they're accustomed to applying to god?

From Belief in Belief:

As Daniel Dennett observes, where it is difficult to believe a thing, it is often much easier to believe that you ought to believe it.

Where [there is not evidence such that it is reasonable to believe a thing], it is often much easier to imagine it.

What does it mean to believe that the Ultimate Cosmic Sky is both perfectly blue and perfectly green? The statement is confusing; it's not even clear what it would mean to believe it—what exactly would be believed, if you believed. You can much more easily believe that it is proper, that it is good and virtuous and beneficial, to believe that the Ultimate Cosmic Sky is both perfectly blue and perfectly green.

But it doesn't seem at all confusing to imagine contradictory things at once. So in this case, our hypothetical credant might actually believe that it is virtuous to imagine that the sky is both perfectly blue and perfectly green (after the fashion of six impossible things before breakfast), or might imagine that it is virtuous to imagine.