Avoiding Your Belief's Real Weak Points

A few years back, my great-grandmother died, in her nineties, after a long, slow, and cruel disintegration.  I never knew her as a person, but in my distant childhood, she cooked for her family; I remember her gefilte fish, and her face, and that she was kind to me.  At her funeral, my grand-uncle, who had taken care of her for years, spoke:  He said, choking back tears, that God had called back his mother piece by piece: her memory, and her speech, and then finally her smile; and that when God finally took her smile, he knew it wouldn't be long before she died, because it meant that she was almost entirely gone.

I heard this and was puzzled, because it was an unthinkably horrible thing to happen to anyone, and therefore I would not have expected my grand-uncle to attribute it to God.  Usually, a Jew would somehow just-not-think-about the logical implication that God had permitted a tragedy.  According to Jewish theology, God continually sustains the universe and chooses every event in it; but ordinarily, drawing logical implications from this belief is reserved for happier occasions.  By saying "God did it!" only when you've been blessed with a baby girl, and just-not-thinking "God did it!" for miscarriages and stillbirths and crib deaths, you can build up quite a lopsided picture of your God's benevolent personality.

Hence I was surprised to hear my grand-uncle attributing the slow disintegration of his mother to a deliberate, strategically planned act of God. It violated the rules of religious self-deception as I understood them.

If I had noticed my own confusion, I could have made a successful surprising prediction.  Not long afterward, my grand-uncle left the Jewish religion.  (The only member of my extended family besides myself to do so, as far as I know.)

Modern Orthodox Judaism is like no other religion I have ever heard of, and I don't know how to describe it to anyone who hasn't been forced to study Mishna and Gemara.  There is a tradition of questioning, but the kind of questioning...  It would not be at all surprising to hear a rabbi, in his weekly sermon, point out the conflict between the seven days of creation and the 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang—because he thought he had a really clever explanation for it, involving three other Biblical references, a Midrash, and a half-understood article in Scientific American.  In Orthodox Judaism you're allowed to notice inconsistencies and contradictions, but only for purposes of explaining them away, and whoever comes up with the most complicated explanation gets a prize.

There is a tradition of inquiry.  But you only attack targets for purposes of defending them.  You only attack targets you know you can defend.

In Modern Orthodox Judaism I have not heard much emphasis of the virtues of blind faith.  You're allowed to doubt.  You're just not allowed to successfully doubt.

I expect that the vast majority of educated Orthodox Jews have questioned their faith at some point in their lives.  But the questioning probably went something like this:  "According to the skeptics, the Torah says that the universe was created in seven days, which is not scientifically accurate.  But would the original tribespeople of Israel, gathered at Mount Sinai, have been able to understand the scientific truth, even if it had been presented to them?  Did they even have a word for 'billion'?  It's easier to see the seven-days story as a metaphor—first God created light, which represents the Big Bang..."

Is this the weakest point at which to attack one's own Judaism?  Read a bit further on in the Torah, and you can find God killing the first-born male children of Egypt to convince an unelected Pharaoh to release slaves who logically could have been teleported out of the country.  An Orthodox Jew is most certainly familiar with this episode, because they are supposed to read through the entire Torah in synagogue once per year, and this event has an associated major holiday.  The name "Passover" ("Pesach") comes from God passing over the Jewish households while killing every male firstborn in Egypt.

Modern Orthodox Jews are, by and large, kind and civilized people; far more civilized than the several editors of the Old Testament.  Even the old rabbis were more civilized.  There's a ritual in the Seder where you take ten drops of wine from your cup, one drop for each of the Ten Plagues, to emphasize the suffering of the Egyptians.  (Of course, you're supposed to be sympathetic to the suffering of the Egyptians, but not so sympathetic that you stand up and say, "This is not right!  It is wrong to do such a thing!")  It shows an interesting contrast—the rabbis were sufficiently kinder than the compilers of the Old Testament that they saw the harshness of the Plagues.  But Science was weaker in these days, and so rabbis could ponder the more unpleasant aspects of Scripture without fearing that it would break their faith entirely.

You don't even ask whether the incident reflects poorly on God, so there's no need to quickly blurt out "The ways of God are mysterious!" or "We're not wise enough to question God's decisions!" or "Murdering babies is okay when God does it!"  That part of the question is just-not-thought-about.

The reason that educated religious people stay religious, I suspect, is that when they doubt, they are subconsciously very careful to attack their own beliefs only at the strongest points—places where they know they can defend.  Moreover, places where rehearsing the standard defense will feel strengthening.

It probably feels really good, for example, to rehearse one's prescripted defense for "Doesn't Science say that the universe is just meaningless atoms bopping around?", because it confirms the meaning of the universe and how it flows from God, etc..  Much more comfortable to think about than an illiterate Egyptian mother wailing over the crib of her slaughtered son.  Anyone who spontaneously thinks about the latter, when questioning their faith in Judaism, is really questioning it, and is probably not going to stay Jewish much longer.

My point here is not just to beat up on Orthodox Judaism.  I'm sure that there's some reply or other for the Slaying of the Firstborn, and probably a dozen of them.  My point is that, when it comes to spontaneous self-questioning, one is much more likely to spontaneously self-attack strong points with comforting replies to rehearse, then to spontaneously self-attack the weakest, most vulnerable points.  Similarly, one is likely to stop at the first reply and be comforted, rather than further criticizing the reply.  A better title than "Avoiding Your Belief's Real Weak Points" would be "Not Spontaneously Thinking About Your Belief's Most Painful Weaknesses".

More than anything, the grip of religion is sustained by people just-not-thinking-about the real weak points of their religion.  I don't think this is a matter of training, but a matter of instinct.  People don't think about the real weak points of their beliefs for the same reason they don't touch an oven's red-hot burners; it's painful.

To do better:  When you're doubting one of your most cherished beliefs, close your eyes, empty your mind, grit your teeth, and deliberately think about whatever hurts the most.  Don't rehearse standard objections whose standard counters would make you feel better.  Ask yourself what smart people who disagree would say to your first reply, and your second reply.  Whenever you catch yourself flinching away from an objection you fleetingly thought of, drag it out into the forefront of your mind.  Punch yourself in the solar plexus.  Stick a knife in your heart, and wiggle to widen the hole.  In the face of the pain, rehearse only this:

What is true is already so.
Owning up to it doesn't make it worse.
Not being open about it doesn't make it go away.
And because it's true, it is what is there to be interacted with.
Anything untrue isn't there to be lived.
People can stand what is true,
for they are already enduring it.
Eugene Gendlin

 

Part of the Against Rationalization subsequence of How To Actually Change Your Mind

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To do better find someone smart who disagrees with you. He'll do a much better job of questioning your beliefs than you ever will.

Better still, find many such people.

That doesn't describe me at all. I was a full-bore Fred Phelps-style ultracalvinist (only an apathetic quietist rather than an activist). I was proud that my faith was so pure I could fully admit that God does this or that thing we find abhorrent because we are so pitiful in comparison to Him and His Plan that the very idea of questioning His Wisdom is laughable. I would say "You cannot question the goodness of His actions because there was no good before God defined it, whatever God does is good by virtue of His doing it and when you say one his actions is "bad" it is only a reflection of your complete inability to know what good is in comparison to Him". I believed in evolution and like you knew the importance of not having a human-centered perception of the world. God was not merely not a 20th century American, he was not human, was not of this planet or even of this universe. He was utterly incomprehensible, and what we did know of Him was only what he had chosen to let us (whose significance in His Plan we cannot know) hear, which left room for a dishonest and misleading approach to us (though we were to think of it as being as benevolent as a parent telling their children, mentally challenged ones at that, about Santa and the Tooth Fairy). I discussed that phase of my belief here, noted one of the contradictions in my God-conception here at Gene Expression and mentioned the resemblance of the deity I was supposed to revere to H.P. Lovecraft's Azathoth here.

I am new to Bayesian Rationality, and it seems to me to be an ideal worth pursuing. I have so far read only Yudkowsky, and am compling a "further reading list" to continue my journey to reducing my irrationality. Please bear with me as I give you some personal context to my comments. I am a religious, practicing Jew. I don't label myself "Orthodox" or "Modern Orthodox", although I attended an Orthodox Yeshiva and live in a Modern Orthodox community, because a lot of what colors the cultural manifestation of the Jewish religion is based on social influences. I refer to myself as a "Torah observant" Jew. I also attended university, majoring in biochemistry and minoring in psychology, and most of the sections on cognitive biases were not new to me, but framed in a new way that I just didn't see before. I have, in the past, questioned my faith, but since my first read-through of AI-Zombies, learned that I did not ask the right questions. Reciting the Litany of Tarski regarding God once scared me, but now I recite it regularly, because I recognize that I really only want to believe that God exists if and only if God exists. It does me no good to believe God exists if God doesn't exist.

In regards to the first story in this post, I was always taught in Yeshiva that God is responsible for everything, good AND bad, and that we are supposed to acknowledge that in bad cases as well as good. That is why, at a Jewish funeral, the mourners recite the blessing "Baruch ata... Dayan HaEmet", Blessed are You, God, the True Judge" (or "Judge of Truth", direct translation is not perfect), the understanding being that God has decided that it is the right time for that person to die, and we accept that.

I recognize the underlying conflict between the ideas of a benevolent God and certain aspects of Biblical narrative, like God killing all first born children when we can easily imagine any number of alternate ways God could have ended slavery without killing babies (and adults; it doesn't say that the first borns had to be child-aged, and the tragedy is not lessened just because they were grown up). I honestly don't have an answer.

I have tried to sit down and imagine a world without a God, what it would look like. I can't claim that I'm not fooling myself, but in the world that I constructed without a God, Judaism does not exist. I'm not an expert historian, but I've counted dozens (at least) of cultures/nations from the past 3 millenia, going back to what I can find as the first independent corroboration of records of a Jewish (or proto-Jewish, depending on the source) nation, and aside from China, they are all gone. Completely wiped out, remembered only by archeological discoveries, and in the cases of the great world powers, historical records and cultural echoes. Where Judea/Israel differs from China is that the Jews spent the past 2,000 years primarily homeless (a fraction remained in the region that Rome renamed "Syria-Palestina", but many were sold into Roman slavery), and we know from more recent records that at least the past thousand years were marked with countless occurences of genocide, where entire communities were ravaged just for being Jewish. I don't know how to calculate the probability of a nation that is not a superpower (or even a superpower) to remain a recognizable, cohesive unit for 3,000 years, but I imagine it's pretty small, since only one of each has done so. I also don't know how to calculate the probability of a nation remaining recognizable and cohesive despite hundreds of years of dominating countries attempting to eradicate them. To me, that makes less sense than a God who does things I don't understand. Is there no alternative answer that explains how Judaism has survived, or have I stopped looking too soon? I have ordered a number of books written by secular historians who talk about the origins of Judaism to see what kind of evidence they offer one way or another. At what point do I say "I still don't understand this"and put it on the shelf because I don't have the time to dedicate to researching it, and there are more important things to do with my life? Even if I stop believing in God, which is probably unlikely, but not impossible, I will likely continue to be a practicing Jew simply because I like to identify with this tribe, despite the downsides like anti-Semitism.

here here, living out what is not true is much more painful - and not just in the long run. it is more painful every day.

i grew up a christian. there is a parable about a man who gives up everything he has in order to find the "pearl of great price" which he knows is buried in a field. so he sells everything to buy the field, and then he is able to legally dig up the treasure. in other words he's done the work and has the right to the reward. i know this will sound crazy to most christians, but giving up christianity was my way of selling everything i had to find the pearl of great price.

Yes.

This is how I felt as well, that my personal discovery of atheism was merely the next step in my life having been raised as a Christian. Losing religion and coming clean about it was the test of my integrity, which was formed under the wing of the Bible and Christianity.

giving up Christianity was my way of selling everything i had to find the pearl of great price

It's very hard to do. I gave up Christianity 39 years ago and I'm still finding large chunks of it floating around in my brain. This was the point of "God is dead" - people no longer believed in God but unconsciously carry on as if it were still true.

Biblical literalism is a relatively new phenomenon, and mostly a Christian one. Jewish (and many Christian) theologians have for many, many centuries regarded such things as the seven-days, two-parents creation story as myths. The questions isn't whether the mythology is true in the sense that science is true; of course it isn't. The question is whether what the mythology is intended to communicate is true.

The moral offense that moderns tend to find in the story of the killing of Egypt's firstborn is rooted in our individualist morality. The ancient view was that every member of the tribe was to some extend morally responsible for the tribe as a whole. When the pharoah offended, all of Egypt suffered, just as later all of Israel would suffer for the offenses of idolators and such.

I suspect that collective morality on that scale is quite alien to most of us, but it's fundamental for understanding the biblical worldview. But still we might ask, for instance, Are all Americans to some extent to blame for Iraq, or is blame restricted to the formal government and chain of command, or to those who voted for Bush, or to those who voted for Bush and those who didn't vote at all, or ...?

Truly there is no moral or scientific evidence to the existence, or nonexistence of the Jewish god (which is not the same as the Christian god; I have not thoroughly studied that one yet, so I cannot make assumptions upon it). The god, as a non-material being that is not confined to space or time, cannot be properly defined by humans, especially when Jewish texts, and more importantly Masoret (tradition; more accurately inherited information not by means of writings), give us very little information about god (bear with me here, I know this is a bit abstract). That is why all scientific definitions of god are so vague. No one has ever bothered to tell us (I mean religious Jews) what god is, and quite frankly, it does not matter. What matters in Judaism is not the Belief in god, but the Law (Belief is, of course a basis to that Law, but if we take into account that god cannot be proven or dis-proven, that if it were the case, it would have been done, belief becomes less critical). In Israel, for example, 90% of Jews believe in the Jewish god, but only one-third of them follow Jewish law (that is, Orthodox Judaism). The rest keep some of the laws, like Shabbat, or Kashrut, but only those they choose, and they may change their opinions many times. This is because, Judaism is not belief, rather it is "kabalat ol malkhut shamaim" (קבלת עול מלכות שמים) (roughly=Acceptance of the Burden of the Kinghood of God). Those who are religious not only believe in god, they accept a long list of rules, rules that guide their society, way of thinking, and morality.

In WWII, near the end of the Pacific Campaign, two speeches were made. One by Eleanor Roosevelt, and one by Hideki Tōjō. Each of them spoke, to their people, of why the campaign was necessary, why they should continue their support.

Roosevelt’s speech went something like “A glass of milk for every child”, while Tōjō reminded the people that despite the many losses, they were fighting to “preserve the honor of the Emperor” and that theirs was a noble sacrifice. We see here two totally different values: On the one hand, the needs of the people, on the other hand, the honor of the Emperor. These values were used to convince people of opposite justifications: The American, and the Japanese.

The amazing thing is that these speeches worked. The Japanese truly believed in the honor of the Emperor as a principle worth dying for, while the Americans truly believed in “the needs of the people” as a principle worth dying for.

If, say, an American said to a Japanese man and said to him: “But what of the starving children?” He would answer “Who cares! What of my dishonored Emperor?” People choose their principles, not by using logic, but rather base their logic on their highest principles, and from them glean new, sub-principles.

In short, so long as your religion does not give you science to learn (which will undoubtedly be disproved and proved again through the ages), but principles to follow, the only reason for you to leave that religion would be that you do not hold those as your highest principles, and therefore it is only a matter of time before those principles clash with your highest principles.

The reason one does not believe, is that he believes differently.

Silas: Ah, so the US soldiers in Iraq are cowards because they shoot people instead of arguing intellectually with them?

Rationality is not the default state of a human being. It requires an effort just to get a human mind to the point where it perceives a scary duty of argument. I have no evidence that the 9/11 attackers got to this point, so I have no evidence that they were scared enough to be intellectual cowards.

TGGP, different people will rehearse different defenses, depending on what they think is strong - what they genuinely don't anticipate being called on, at least by themselves. You're an atheist now, so there was probably something you didn't think about, in the corner of your mind, which you can think about now. What was it?

Tiiba: Because it is very hard to read ambiguity into moral acts. One can say that six days is not meant literally (even if the original language says that - though I'm not saying it does; I don't know). One cannot say that the firstborn of Egypt were all just sleeping.

Furthermore, one cannot explain away deception. Maybe God actually made the Universe in six days but wants us to think it was longer to test our faith. Yes, that's a lousy argument, but one might conceive of it being true. As for other offenses, God makes the laws of physics, so he obeys them at his whim.

By contrast, an action making God appear evil necessarily makes him incomprehensible for many religions. If you say that God is good, and that he slaughtered innocent children, and you believe that such a slaughter is wrong, then any defense of God must change the meaning of "God is good" to something completely unrecognizable. Either good is true of God by definition (What He does is good) or it is the "big plan" strategy, in which case it is actually good but you are too stupid to understand why, meaning he is good in a way that we necessarily cannot understand.

So, to end this rambling, people pick moral attacks because they don't allow the "Well, it's obviously false, therefore, it isn't meant literally!" defense. It also attacks concepts of God on a somewhat different level.

If there is a heaven and the killed firstborn went there, then killing them (or anyone else, for that matter) is quite harmless. And killing is wrong for people not because it causes harm, but because God forbids it. It's a strange view, but not an obviously inconsistent one. On the other hand I've always shied away from moral attacks just because the counterargument of "So, God's not benevolent, now what? You still had to worship it for a few decades or you are going to literally burn for eternity" seemed so obvious. Like it seems pointless to argue that Dumbledore is evil when you're trying to prove he never existed.

But if somebody is willing to admit that their respective bible or holy book lied about their God being benevolent, that should raise the probability that other parts of their book lied as well. Most of all, unlike everything else that it has been pointed out was inaccurate in the bible, that one cannot be explained by saying it was a metaphor. It would be something it could not be denied was either a severe exaggeration or a lie. That starts touching on uncomfortable territory for most theists because they have admitted part of their 'side' is flawed.

When you're doubting one of your most cherished beliefs, close your eyes, empty your mind, grit your teeth, and deliberately think about whatever hurts the most.

This is good advice.

I started doing this around 9 years ago, because at the end of adolescence I experienced a sudden "mortality awareness". I imagine this is probably common -- that is, many people probably experience a moment in their life when the fact that they, too, are getting older, comes into sharp relief. But in my observation, most people seem to respond to this moment by saying, "Oh well, I'm just not going to think about that". I couldn't not think about it, though. I was already an atheist at this point, but when I was 20 I still hadn't come up with much of an approach for thinking about how to live my life in full awareness of biological vulnerability. So I forced myself to imagine becoming very old and sick, to imagine contracting cancer, to imagine every single worst-case scenario that would lead to pain and death (not just mine, but that of my family, etc., as well).

I didn't mention this to very many people, but those I did seemed to think it was "unhealthy", and that I was exhibiting a kind of OCD-like obsession with doom. But it was a phase I needed to go through, so that I could process the worst-that-could-happen without just reacting emotionally to it. It isn't that I'm "fine" now with the idea of horrible things happening -- of course I would like to avoid them -- but that I don't think that "not thinking about horrible things" is an effective means of avoiding them. I figure that (a) there are some things that could very well happen regardless of what I do or how I think, and (b) I am more likely to come up with an effective strategy for avoiding something bad if I don't hide from thoughts about that bad thing.

Also, after processing the "worst case scenarios" I thought up, I came to realize that even if every bad thing I can imagine happens at some point, life is still infinitely worth living in the meantime -- this is especially pertinent in how I try to approach the subject of life extension, because I think it would lead to damaging bias (e.g., overconfidence with regard to the development of effective biotech solutions for radical longevity in my lifetime) if I were to make my ability to live without despair contingent upon achieving this longevity.

I suppose in some sense I had not been a believer for some time, but my history of being a Christian had put in me a desire to be one whether or not I actually thought it was true. Like many youngsters I had started out with a primitive God-concept of the kindly old man in the sky variety who watches over us and occasionally intervenes sometimes. As I grew older and wiser I made omniscience, predeterminism and so on a more important part, so that God was now the inactive clock-maker (which seemed logical to me). The nature of God came to be shaped by what I knew about the world rather than my view of the nature of the world being affected by my concept of God. God was essentially out of the picture and the only justification I had for including him was the prime-mover argument (which I would now say brings in a conclusion inferior to maximum entropy). It wasn't that long ago I first announced to anyone else I had stopped believing, and still haven't told those I know personally. As I mention in the link, it was reading people like the folks at gnxp that pushed me over the edge. I was able to read them and take what they said seriously because, as I mentioned, I didn't feel my faith was threatened. There were occasional mentions of Bayesianism, but it was mostly the notion of belief as a probabilistic guess based on evidence that got through to me. I wanted to have a more accurate view of the world and tried to adopt that standard of belief. I also knew about how most people's religious beliefs (I did not initially think to include my own in that category) were not grounded in evidence, but group membership/arguments from authority and flawed intuition/heuristics. Eventually those concepts collided and I decided to consciously evaluate whether the evidence really suggested the existence of the judeochristian God. My conclusion was no and I had not really thought the evidence suggested it for some time but had a "preference over belief". Once I admitted I didn't actually believe I couldn't make myself believe anymore whether or not I had that preference. Can anyone honestly say "I believe this even though it isn't actually the case"? I can't really think of any killer argument against God I hadn't considered though.

I know it's not entirely on topic, but biblical physics seems like a more important test of the Bible's truth than God's morality. If God does not follow the arbitrary laws of human society, what does that prove? Nor does the Bible wrongly saying that God is merciful mean much - what would you do if you were God and had to write a book? But if the Bible accurately states the age of the Universe, that's something. In the end, the only important issue is whether you're going to hell or heaven.

I actually think it's rather irrational for someone to think that God's cruelty is an argument against His existence, and this seems a common opinion among atheists. I mean, I believe in Stalin, who also claimed to be a milkmaid's best friend while executing anyone who looked at him funny.

I don't think God's cruelty in the Bible is evidence that there isn't any god, but it is evidence against the benevolent, omniscient, personal, omnipotent kind of theism that Christians and Jews would argue for.

Out of the list of adjectives it's evidence only against the "benevolent" part and that's really just the old problem of theodicy (why does God permit evil).

If he isn't omniscient or omnipotent, then it could be some of the bad things he does are the most benevolent that he could do given his limited abilities.

How has Rationality, as a universal theory (or near-universal) on decision making, confronted its most painful weaknesses? What are rationality's weak points? The more broad a theory is claimed to be, the more important it seems to really test the theory's weaknesses -- that is why I assume you bring up religion, but the same standard should apply to rationality. This is not a cute question from a religious person, more of an intellectual inquiry from a person hoping to learn. In honor of the grand-daddy of cognitive biases, confirmation bias, doesn't rational choice theory need to be vetted?

HungryTurtle makes an attempt to get to this question, but he gets too far into the weeds -- this allowed LW to simply compare the "cons" of religion with the "cons" of rationality -- this is a silly inquiry -- I don't care how the weaknesses of rationality compares to the weaknesses of Judaism because rational theory, if universally applicable with no weaknesses, should be tested on the basis of that claim alone, and not its weaknesses relative to some other theory.

NOTE: re-posting without offending language in the hopes i dont need to create a new name. looks like i lost on my instrumental rationality point, got downvoted enough to get be restricted. on the bright side I am learning to admit i'm wrong (i was wrong to misread whether i'd offend LW, which prevented me from engaging with others on substantive points i'm trying to learn more about).

Well, you got one answer, and it was downvoted. Draw your own conclusions about how much LWers like to see their religion-substitute challenged.

I find the responses of LWers to this question to be evasive and defensive. Rationality in the broad sense (broader than just Bayes) has received many criticisms from a rational viewpoint. The Munchausen Trilemma is a pertinent example.

As a matter of policy, I always downvote any comment that includes anything like your final paragraph.

References to censorship must be censored for censorship to be effective.

Edit; IF you are really dedicated to Overcoming Bias, why not say "thankyou for that reminder not to disagree-by-downvoting".

While the Munchausen Trilemma isn't mentioned by name in the article, the ideas behind it are pretty thoroughly examined in The Useful Idea Of Truth

Please don't confuse rationality (a collection of methods) with philosophical rationalism.

But Eliezer, Wikipedia says about the Copenhagen interpretation:

Aage Petersen paraphrasing Niels Bohr: "There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature."here is no quantum world. There is only an abstract physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature."

Doesn't this imply that Bohr didn't believe in inherent randomness but in randomness in the "description"? This seems like the same position as Jaynes and Einstein to me. Is Wikipedia wrong here? What am I missing???

In one of Jayne's paper's, he discusses how Bohr relentlessly talked only on the epistemological level, which many of Bohr's interpreters mistook for the ontological level.

It was the Clearing up Mysteries paper, section Confrontation or Reconciliation. http://bayes.wustl.edu/etj/articles/cmystery.pdf

So to answer your question, Bohr believed in randomness in the description, and didn't speak of inherent anything - didn't speak on the ontological level.

The papers of his hosted there, are those all of his papers?

If you go to the top level address http://bayes.wustl.edu/

You can navigate down to everything available on Jaynes, plus papers from a lot of other folks.

You can probably get the original draft of his magnum opus as latex or .pdf files somewhere in the web as well, although it was removed from that site once the book was published. It includes chapters that weren't published in the book.

Many-worlds was invented by Everett in 1957. Einstein died in 1955. Einstein and Jaynes both disapproved of the Copenhagen interpretation - I have no evidence that either ever considered many-worlds or even heard of it. Both of them objected to inherent randomness, and MWI gets rid of this.

??? Jaynes died in 1998. It strains credulity to imagine that he wouldn't have been aware of the MWI.

People don't think about the real weak points of their beliefs for the same reason they don't touch an oven's red-hot burners; it's painful.

Eliezer, unless I missed the analogy, people gloss the weak points to avoid finding themselves in error and avoid the pain of getting 'burned' by woeful ignorance. Perhaps I give humanity too much credit, but I think this is n