Today's post, Fake Norms, or "Truth" vs. Truth was originally published on 22 July 2008. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):


Our society has a moral norm for applauding "truth", but actual truths get much less applause (this is a bad thing).

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1 comment, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 6:49 AM

As luck would have it, when I start typing lesswrong into chrome, the link that always pops up first is: What Do We Mean By "Rationality"?

This post starts with:

We mean:

1) Epistemic rationality:... 2) Instrumental rationality: ... If that seems like a perfectly good definition, you can stop reading here; otherwise continue.

What's clear to me is we don't have a definition of a concept, we have two definitions of two concepts, both using the same word. That's a perfectly reasonable thing to do, as long as you don't conflate the two different concepts, just because you use the same word for both.

What's become increasingly clear to me as the years have gone by is that most people don't conflate these two at all. The great mass of people know there's a big difference - and they'll take instrumental rationalism over epistemic rationalism every time. They believe what wins, which is generally for social creatures like ourselves whatever other people will approve of them believing. Although "believing" might not be the word someone like myself, more committed to epistemic rationality, would use to characterize their "believing acts".

The seeming cluelessness and obtuseness that an epistemic rationalist might "see" in others when they just don't seem to "get it", is in fact the epistemic rationalist just not "getting" that most other people aren't epistemic rationalists. I find this outlook clarifies a lot of situations quickly. Dennett's "belief in belief", and EY's "Truth" vs. Truth seem to make the same point.