It's even worse -- if you successfully lie to convince others, their opinions may be the evidence that later convinces you.

In theory this should not happen, because a perfect reasoner should be able to discount the effect of their lies on others. But humans are not like this. If everyone else believes something, there is a strong pressure to join them. (A good rationalization could be: "First I was just joking, but gradually I realized that this is real.")

I would guess that there were many cult leaders who started by lying to people around them, and gradually accepted their own lies when repeated by the others.

Sadly, it's even worse than that... sometimes, the very act of lying serves to gradually change my beliefs, even if nobody else is convinced. (Admittedly, this depends somewhat on how committed I am to my self-image as a liar.)

[SEQ RERUN] Protected From Myself

by MinibearRex 1 min read27th Sep 201211 comments


Today's post, Protected From Myself was originally published on 19 October 2008. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):


Ethics can protect you from your own mistakes, especially when your mistakes are about really fundamental things.

Discuss the post here (rather than in the comments to the original post).

This post is part of the Rerunning the Sequences series, where we'll be going through Eliezer Yudkowsky's old posts in order so that people who are interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was Dark Side Epistemology, and you can use the sequence_reruns tag or rss feed to follow the rest of the series.

Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day's sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go here for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.