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I think the point in time when an individual stops keeping a belief secret and is willing to declare it in public is an interesting one. There are two main variables: how confident is the individual in their belief being true? and how much does the individual care about the social and cultural stigma against being wrong? These thresh-holds would be different for different individuals, and would govern the point at which they are willing to make a public claim.

Related to this, I see two major reasons a person would form a secret belief: they are unsure if they are correct, or they are afraid of social or cultural backlash of being wrong (and certainly it could be a combination of both).

I wonder, does advocating for 'secret beliefs' create a system in which public beliefs are put on a higher pedestal, thus increasing the social and cultural barriers to making a public claim? You advocate for pursuing truth through public debate, yet by identifying the importance of secret beliefs you help to affirm the social and cultural barriers that impede public debate in the first place. Its a bit of a conundrum.

In any case, it seems that publicly presenting a belief leads to better outcomes than harbouring it as a secret, in the sense that in doing so the individual will maximize the amount of information they receive as feedback, thus helping to either confirm or refute their stated claim. So it follows that a culture that embraces public debate will be superior, as a lower barrier to the acceptability of 'wrongness' will allow individuals to most efficiently discover logical beliefs.

Obviously eliminating the 'secret space' of the mind is impossible, it is the dialogue of the self! So it seems that in an ideal case, once an ontology has been built in the mind, an individual can join the public discourse and have the tools to understand what constitutes truth, using collective knowledge to discover it more efficiently than they could on their own.

Hello LW,

My name is Alex, and while I first discovered LW 2-3 years ago, I have only visited the site sporadically since then. I have always found the discussion here intriguing and insightful, but never found myself motivated enough to dedicate time to joining the community (until now!).

I'm a 26 year old Canadian with an undergraduate degree majoring in chemistry and minoring in philosophy (with a healthy dose of physics on the side). I have always been very analytical and process driven, and I have used that to fuel my creativity, and develop a more thorough understanding of the world we find ourselves a part of. I have been self-employed since graduating, with the eventual goal of returning to school for a graduate degree.

In my undergrad, my strengths and interests were in synthetic/materials chemistry, as well as organic chemistry. I spent time working for a research group that specialized (largely) in group 14 nano-material chemistry, which I enjoyed immensely. The areas of philosophy I concentrated on were philosophy of science, computing & AI, theory of mind, and existentialism. In short, I avoided the 'historical overview' philosophy courses in favour of those which were more relevant to the rapidly changing technological world (not to say philosophers of times past are uninteresting or have no current relevance, but I think the LW audience will empathize).

I expect that my contributions here will, in some sense, help me parse out what I would like to dedicate my future institutional studies to. I value knowledge and truth, as well as academic integrity and humility. I am off put by individuals who are unquestioning or unable to logically reason effectively, so I hope I will find a good home here. The toolbox of logical reasoning has allowed mankind to build itself up out of the primordial muck, and it seems that mastery of these tools is essential for continued advancement (and perhaps even survival). So, in addition to the above, I hope that my time here will allow me to continue honing my own tools of logic.