All of HCE's Comments + Replies

Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

i did not say it established she was better off as a theist than as an atheist. i was merely pointing out that being a theist does not make anyone more or less likely (as far as i know) to believe things which are false about their local environment (beyond those things which necessarily follow from their beliefs, e.g., this priest sure is wise in the ways of the Lord! he must be wise about other things, too!).

do we have any data suggesting atheists hold more accurate beliefs than theists about phenomena that they experience firsthand?

1AlexU13yPretty doubtful, especially controlling for IQ and education...
Practical Advice Backed By Deep Theories

watching life-sized talking heads in the morning is roberts' way of lifting his spirits, not his cure for insomnia.

4reg13yok, but it's still merely a 'just-so' story with no worthwhile evidence behind it.
Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

human beings are capable of having domain and context-specific cognitive algorithms. preferring comforting but false metaphysical truths does not mean she will prefer (more than others) reassuring but maladaptive beliefs about her local environment. her incentives to believe in some fanciful anthropomorphized abstraction are of an entirely different type than her incentives to believe true or false things about the intentions and motives of those she will interact with professionally, say.

are theists more or less likely to demonstrate competence on card-selection tasks or other tests of rational belief formation?

1badger13yI agree people are capable of partitioning. Theists likely do the same as atheists in emotionally disconnected circumstances like a card-selection task. But this doesn't establish Wednesday is better off as a theist than as an atheist overall. And at least in the Mormon case, where decisions can be fully justified by "I felt good about it, ergo God endorses it", I am willing to claim that theists are less likely to engage in something even as basic as cost-benefit analysis.
Extreme Rationality: It's Not That Great

as robin has pointed out on numerous occasions, in many situations it is in our best interest to believe, or profess to believe, things that are false. because we cannot deceive others very well, and because we are penalized for lying about our beliefs, it is often in our best interest to not know how to believe things more likely to be true. refusing to believe popular lies forces you to either lie continually or to constantly risk your relative status within a potentially useful affiliative network by professing contrarian beliefs or, almost as bad, no b... (read more)

Money: The Unit of Caring

when you volunteer your own time and energy to a cause, and experience the ''charity process'' firsthand, you increase your emotional investment and thus future commitment to it. sending a cheque is easy to forget; spending an afternoon with like-minded Cause Enthusiasts doing whatever it is volunteers do is not so easily forgotten, and the feel-good, warm fuzzy memories may even be conflated with the cause itself.

you want supporters who will stick around and proselytize. you will not succeed by having them just give money. you will succeed by having them... (read more)

0VAuroch8yOn the other hand, the goal (to the charity) of acquiring Cause Enthusiasts is to acquire money.
Money: The Unit of Caring

2) as stated demonstrates a persistent problem i see here and elsewhere: just because a behavior signals something to observers does not mean the behavior was chosen because it signals something to observers.

we use the same evaluative criteria to assess ourselves as we use to determine the relative value of our peers. for example, if i evaluate the relative worth of members of my peer group within the context of ''athletics'' using a criterion like their vertical leap, i will likely apply the same evaluative criterion to myself when assessing -my- value. ... (read more)

2gjm13yEr, I didn't say that the behaviour was chosen because it signals something. I offered that as one possible explanation. In this instance, signalling-to-self seems like about as good an explanation as signalling-to-others for the fact that people give to charities at all (though I'm sure these are nothing like the whole explanation). But it doesn't work for explaining why someone would do it in their will rather than earlier, whereas signalling-to-others does. For what it's worth, I think my #1 is likely more important than my #2. I would hazard a guess that, e.g., Robin Hanson might disagree. But I'm not sure what your objection is: do you think "signalling" explanations are never an interesting part of the story?
Crowley on Religious Experience

what method are you using to ''correct for such a bias''? how do you ''correct'' your associational networks or the preferences that define who you are?

the only method that comes to mind is perspective-shifting or play-acting. trying to imitate the thoughts and (verbal) behaviors of someone who's attracted to spiritual ideas like ''nirvana'' and ''enlightenment'' might give you an appreciation for values that you do not typically use to define yourself.

1Dustin13yMainly by trying to spend time associating with those who do value such things, and whom I don't associate with the crazy stuff. My network of friends and family include a good number of such folk, whose opinion I don't discount.
Adversarial System Hats

at the same time, if you're a lawyer defending someone likely to be innocent and your goal is to have him exonerated, the most rational strategy is to use whatever lawyerly wiles you have at your disposal to convince an irrational jury of his innocence. an airtight bayesian argument may not be understood or it may be understood but disregarded, whereas a persuasive story vividly told can convince a jury of almost anything.

you cannot win the game if you refuse to accept the rules, and one of the implicit rules in almost every social game is that almost all of the participants are irrational almost all of the time.

Kinnaird's truels

you're missing the essential ingredient:

  1. winner-takes-all

in any situation where the spoils of victory are shared its best to align with the most competent. contrarily, when the winner gets everything, like life or the girl or the title, its almost always best to team up with your fellow incompetents to take down the likely victor.

the game show survivor strikes me as especially illustrative. players routinely gang-up on those perceived to be the most competent to increase everyone's chances of winning. once their usefulness as a workhorse or a ''challen... (read more)