I am glad that I didn't realize that people could still reply to the post after I deleted it, since its nice receiving the last responses quite a bit later after I am no longer triggered by the initial general response.

I think the reason that my writing is coming off to you this way is that I have moved into a very different mental space than the Less Wrong community, and forgot the degree to which I needed to tune my thinking/writing for Less Wrongers to understand/appreciate my messages.

Less Wrongers are used to talking to people who think and speak in the way that people think and speak on this site. I don't read Less Wrong personally, only post to it. I've read some of the sequences, and I have spent years speaking in person on a regular basis with many high profile Less Wrongers, but the way in which people read and write on the blog is kind of like a foreign language to me, which I am currently rusty at.

Likewise with the cultural expectations about what I should be delivering and how.

I'm considering attempting a rewrite, but not sure if I want to or not. What would my incentive be to do so? So far I have received contempt and criticism for my attempt to communicate what I consider to be some very useful principles. Why should I keep trying?

In order to get it right, I need to wrap my head around the Less Wrong way of thinking again, and figure out how to translate everything I'm saying into something that people on this site will understand. That is quite a lot of work. I really hate this culture of tearing things apart when you don't understand rather than asking questions and being curious about what signal the author is attempting to send. I'm genuinely not sure if I want to engage it again or not.

I'm genuinely not sure if I want to engage it again or not.

What do you consider the pros and cons?

The Puzzle of Faith and Belief

by [anonymous] 5 min read28th Sep 201488 comments


The Puzzle of Faith and Belief


Faith and Belief are different words for talking about the concepts of Perspective and Point of view.  

When you use the word Perspective v.s. Faith, you are attaching slightly different connotations to the same concept.   

Perspective is a more rationalist way of seeing the different ways of looking at the world.  The associations with it are scientific, grounded, and well defined.  

Faith is the more intuitive way of seeing the different ways of looking at reality.   I’m more include to use the word “reality” than “the world” even in defining it.  The word itself is more open/less well defined.  

Dictionary definitions from Google for the aspects of these words that I am referring to:

Perspective:  a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

Faith:  a strongly held belief or theory.

Belief:  something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction.

Point of View:  a particular attitude or way of considering a matter.


Why does all this matter?

It matters because they are more or less all the same thing, everyone is biased, and people tend to nit pick the different versions in order to justify their own biases.  

Virtually no one has any solid grounding for their Perspective, Faith, Belief, or Point of View.  

There are different ways in which people delude themselves into feeling safe and comfortable in the points of view, beliefs, and perspectives.  Its fairly easy to make sense on a mid-level.  You can join a consensus reality, where everyone around you has certain things they also agree with, and people who they believe are clearly right, and this feels comforting.   But how many people really question the doctrine?  How many people verify the origin?  

Are you ultimately putting your trust in a guru and a bunch of other people, or have you verified the physics and math yourself?  

If you have not verified the physics and math and the origin yourself of something which you are assuming to be true, down to the level of particle physics:


This is faith.   


Even if you are a myers-briggs INTP, and you don’t feel that you “strongly” hold beliefs, you are in action every day.  You are choosing to do, and to not do things.  Whether you hold your beliefs loosely or tightly, everything you do always is impacted by them.   

Whether or not you choose to get out of bed in the morning is absolutely a matter of faith.  You have faith that your life will be better if you do.  There are a number of reasons why:

1.  You believe the hunger you feel or eventually will feel from not eating will go away if you go get food and put it in your mouth.  

2.  You believe that you need to do something in order to maintain the lifestyle in which you will continue to have a bed to sleep on.  

3.  You believe that taking care of 1 & 2 will ultimately cause your feeling state to be better than if you do not address them, and you desire to not suffer.  

4.  You likely have much more inspiring beliefs than 1, 2, and 3, but those differ more from person to person and are harder to nail accurately for the majority in a group of many thousands of people.  


Again, why does this matter?  

It matters because perspective, point of view, faith, and belief, are power.  

What I have found working as a business coach and anxiety specialist for seven years is the degree to how powerful these things are.  As someone with a rationalist influence, I am the only coach I know who takes and publishes statistics on my clients.  While they are not anywhere near as thorough as I would like, the signal is very very strong.  While I got a 50% increase for mood as according to moodscope.com in 2013, I’m up to about a 78% increase in 2014.  The increase in mood is directly correlated with increase in productivity.  I consider this to be a chicken and egg sort of relationship - improving one improves the other, and its hard to say which is cause and which is effect.  

How do I get these sorts of results simply by working with the concepts referred to in this post?  

Mostly just by eliminating false beliefs, and replacing them with more empowering true beliefs.  The deal is, no one is unbiased - whether they are a believer in the biases associated with  “point of view” or a believer in biases associated with “faith” is unbiased.  Give me 30 minutes of your time, and you will learn things you did not already know.  

I am not so charismatic that I can plant beliefs in anyone that they do not see as true.  Nor would I want to be.  I am simply able to identify the biases people have and reveal them in a way that is generally non-threatening, and I am able to point at many alternative beliefs so that people can choose a new system that is more functional for them.   

What I have found most interesting doing this work, is the relationship between willingness to change belief/faith/perspective/point of view on many different levels.  


The more willing someone is to adopt a new perspective on the topic of the benefits of getting out of bed, the more likely that person is to solve the problem and start getting out of bed at the time they desire.   

The more willing that person will be to adopt a new perspective on applying for a job, the more likely they are to apply, and the more likely they are to get the job.  

The more willing a person is to adopt a new perspective on applying for a job, the more likely the person is to adopt a new perspective on what jobs they can apply for, and the more likely they are to get their dream job.  

The more willing a person is to change perspective to the point of getting out of bed, applying for a job, and specifically applying for and getting their dream job, the more likely they are to genuinely question their Faith in the religious/atheist sense, and the more willing they are to take their questioning to the level of particle and quantum physics.   

[edit] Summary:  

I frequently hear people of a rationalist mindset, who prefer the biases associated with the terms "Perspective" and "Point of View" dismiss the biases associated with the terms "Faith" and "Belief" as inferior.  

I've come to see this particular dismissal bias as "A form of Faith."  It is a faith that one can use science to justify their actions, that is not actually grounded in science.   

The result of this is that there are a lot of people walking around thinking that they are being rational, when really, they are doing more or less what Viliam_Bur describes in this comment.  

I have spent many years now talking in depth to many clients, including hundreds of rationalists.  What I've found is that the degree of people's willingness to be open to introspection on this topic, and to realize just how much of their so called "rational" beliefs are actually based on faith, and their willingness to start correcting in order to seek truth more effectively with this understanding, determines their degree of success in being able to update their belief systems in order to get what they want in life.

Once you realize that you are operating a faith based system, then you can optimize it as a faith based system, rather than operating under the false belief that it is grounded in science.   

In truth, all of the systems all of us use are a combination of faith and science.  We can determine a lot from science, but virtually no one takes it to the level of "grounded," where they really understand how the science works at the core.  Even physics Ph.Ds don't know everything, let alone the people who base their beliefs on what the physics Ph.Ds say.  

So, if you truly want to be rational, it makes the most sense to realize what the system is that you are actually using, and to optimize it accordingly.  Either go to the root of the science, and tune it that way, or tune it as a faith based system, and follow the signal of "what makes the most sense to put my faith into?"

The lowest hanging fruit in tuning your system is actually at the roots, assuming you have the time and energy to really dig into the research, and/or that you have a good guide who you trust.  Asking the questions of "Why do I believe what I do?" and "Why do I do what I do?" at a very fundamental level, without the assumption that you already know, is extremely powerful.  

The testimonials and statistics I linked above are those I have collected personally showing results of what happens as you do this sort of grounding of your belief systems.  The way in which you do it is to start questioning how grounded in science your assumptions actually are, and to release the attachment you have to thinking that you are less wrong because you are science based.