Today's post, Crisis of Faith was originally published on 10 October 2008. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):


When an idea has become deeply entrenched in your mind, it requires an awful lot of work to doubt that idea properly.

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3 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 9:54 AM

Because, if you aren't trying that hard, then—for all you know—your head could be stuffed full of nonsense as ridiculous as religion.

Not could, is. I dare to say that every single one of us still believes at least one thing that is like that. How to find it? EY to the rescue:

"Try to think the thought that hurts the most."

One of these thoughts probably corresponds to a religion-like belief. Can you name some of your beliefs that would hurt a lot, were they proven false? Note that even explicitly naming one hurts, so you tend to flinch away with "no, obviously not that one", often before you notice it.

Some (often silly) examples that might hurt (others here, not me, I am not claiming an exception from the flinch): MWI is wrong, Jesus is really a god's son, consciousness is irreducible, EY is secretly employed by the Pope, 911 is an inside job, donating to SI hastens the doomsday...

Not could, is. I dare to say that every single one of us still believes at least one thing that is like that.

Maybe, but I'm skeptical. Personally, I have things that I flinch from thinking about, but only because I already accept that the truth is unpleasant and don't like dwelling on it. I'm sure I have some beliefs that are wrong, but I already have enough beliefs that are painful to me that I have some doubt as to whether there are things I don't believe because believing them would be painful.

I think that my own problems are more related to ordering my life according to the things I already believe.

Hmm, the obvious thing in my brain that shows the signs mentioned is my generalized trust in LW style rationality, but since the very concepts of belief and questioning are part of that (the obsolete human-native versions are entirely and irrecoverably lost), any attempt to even imagine what questioning it would mean splutters out like a bad scifi AI being logic bombed.