Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences): Exercises

by RobinZ 1 min read17th Apr 201113 comments


The following is a series of exercises designed to test one's understanding of "Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences)", a post in the Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions sequence by Eliezer Yudkowsky.

A. Examine the following list of statements. For each statement, ask: What observations would you expect to make if this statement were true that you would not expect to make if this statement were false, or vice-versa? If no such observations exist, indicate that this is so.

  1. Bismarck is the capital of North Dakota.
  2. The universe does not exist; all existence is imaginary.
  3. The earth is flat.
  4. The comic book Queen & Country is based on the British ITV series The Sandbaggers.
  5. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter is a good book.
  6. "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (a.k.a. "Twas the Night Before Christmas") was written by Clement Clarke Moore.
  7. Herbert Hoover was left-handed.

B. In the Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip song "Thou Shalt Always Kill", one of the injunctions given to the listener is, "Thou shalt not put musicians and recording artists on ridiculous pedestals no matter how great they are or were." After this statement comes a list of such bands, beginning, "The Beatles: Were just a band. Led Zeppelin: Just a band. The Beach Boys: Just a band." Consider just this first statement, that the Beatles were just a band. What does it imply in terms of anticipated experiences?

The author's remarks on the solutions to these questions appear in this comment.