Why would you expect the social dominance of a belief to correlate with truth? Except in the most trivial cases, society has no particular mechanism that selects for true beliefs in preference to false ones.

The Darwinian competition of memes selects strongly for those that provide psychological benefits, or are politically useful, or serve the self-interest of large segments of the population. But truth is only relevant if the opponents of a belief can easily and unambiguously disprove it, which is only possible in rare cases.

Or if acting on the damage caused by having a bad model of reality is worse than the signaling benefit of the false belief.

[LINK] Why taking ideas seriously is probably a bad thing to do

by David_Gerard 1 min read5th Jan 201343 comments

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Yvain's blog: Epistemic learned helplessness.

A friend in business recently complained about his hiring pool, saying that he couldn't find people with the basic skill of believing arguments. That is, if you have a valid argument for something, then you should accept the conclusion. Even if the conclusion is unpopular, or inconvenient, or you don't like it. He told me a good portion of the point of CfAR was to either find or create people who would believe something after it had been proven to them.

And I nodded my head, because it sounded reasonable enough, and it wasn't until a few hours later that I thought about it again and went "Wait, no, that would be the worst idea ever."

I don't think I'm overselling myself too much to expect that I could argue circles around the average high school dropout. Like I mean that on almost any topic, given almost any position, I could totally demolish her and make her look like an idiot. Reduce her to some form of "Look, everything you say fits together and I can't explain why you're wrong, I just know you are!" Or, more plausibly, "Shut up I don't want to talk about this!"