I found this post an interesting prompt. I'm thinking about it, and I'd enjoy hearing what other LessWrongers think about it.

Going ahead pasting the text here, hope that's okay:

The following are 45 correlates that I’ve collected of things called “sacred”. I invite any of you to offer a theory of the sacred that explains as many of these as you can, as simply as you can. (And to suggests edits of this list.)

  1. Sacred things are highly (or lowly) valued. We politely revere, respect, & prioritize them.
  2. We revere sacred beliefs as well as acts. We feel dirty when thoughts go near illicit ones.
  3. Sacred is big, powerful, extraordinary. We fear, submit, & see it as larger than ourselves.
  4. Sacred things matter for our health, luck, and other outcomes we care about.
  5. We want the sacred “for itself”, rather than as a means to get other things.
  6. Sacred things are either more homogenous, or more unique, whichever is better.
  7. Sacred induces strong emotions: e.g., awe, joy, serenity, devotion, repulsion, & fear.
  8. We get emotionally attached to the sacred; our stance toward it is part of our identity.
  9. We desire to connect with the sacred, and to be more associated with it.
  10. To approach the sacred, we use self-control to purify ourselves, sacrifice, & commit. 
  11. We enjoy sacrificing for the sacred, to purify, & respect sacred, including via odd beliefs. 
  12. Sacred brings us comfort & consolation in hard times; losing it can feel devastating. 
  13. We affirm & learn sacred via mythic stories & accounts of how we & it fit in a universe.
  14. We have rules regarding how to approach sacred stuff, in part to protect us.
  15. The sacred isn’t for use by commoners, or for common purposes. 
  16. Shared views about the sacred bind, define, and distinguish social groups.
  17. Shared rituals & festivals bind & emotionally charge us, & help us to see sacred.
  18. We want associates to share our view of and attachment to the sacred.
  19. We get offended when others seem to deny our sacred views, and respond vigorously.
  20. We feel more equal to each other regarding sacred things; status matters less there.
  21. Either everyone (e.g. love) or very few (e.g. medicine) are entitled to opinions on sacred.
  22. Charismatic leaders motivate, get acceptance in part via appeals, connections to sacred. 
  23. Experts of the sacred are more prestigious & trusted, get more job security.
  24. Sacrificing for the sacred is seen as pro-social.
  25. Sacred things are sharply set apart and distinguished from the ordinary, mundane.
  26. Sacred things do not fit well with our animal natures, such as self-interest, competition.
  27. We dislike mixing sacred and mundane things together.
  28. We dislike money prices of sacred, & trades that get more mundane via less sacred.
  29. We dislike for-profit orgs of the sacred, relative to non-profits or government agencies. 
  30. Sacred things feel less limited by physics, & can seem to have unlimited possibilities.
  31. Sacred things really matter, fill deepest needs, complete us, make us pure, make all one.
  32. Sacred things last longer, and decay or break less. Sometimes eternal and unchanging.
  33. Sacred things are purer and cleaner, and closer to the ultimate core of existence.
  34. Sacred things have fewer random coincidences; their patterns mean something.
  35. Sacred things have fewer value conflicts with each other; you can have them all at once.
  36. It is harder to judge the relative value of sacred things, compared to mundane things.
  37. We understand the sacred poorly using cognitive rational analysis, or numbers.
  38. We understand the sacred better using intuition, flow, and creativity.
  39. How sacred things seem is less misleading; you can more trust their appearances.
  40. The sacred is mysterious, unlikely and even inconsistent. Who are we to question it?
  41. Sacred makes us stand outside ourselves, feel ecstasy, transcendence, different reality.
  42. We do not make or control the sacred, it makes and transforms us.
  43. Stuff (objects, dates, people, words, sounds) that touches the sacred gets sacred itself.
  44. We connect to sacred themes better via contact with sacred stuff.
  45. Over time, things that we often connect to tend to become sacred via nostalgia.

My attempt is described here.

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These are all very interesting claims, but each of them seem plausibly wrong, many of them independently so. I worry what errors it might cause to lose track of which ones are true and false. You might damage something sacred.

humorously imprecise because I'm not sure if this is trivial or insightful: we just gotta write down approximately how to find the sacred in a garrabrant inductor real quick now,


Sacredness is arbitrary. It depends on who applies the label to what. Devotion, however, is observable and more interesting. We may humble ourselves only in front of what we consider sacred, but humility is a requirement that would even allow devotion to happen in the first place.

Is there a reason for not link posting all overcoming bias posts to lesswrong?