All of lowasser's Comments + Replies

Why Truth?

I am trying to win an argument, and I am having trouble defeating the following claim:

It can, under certain scenarios, be instrumental (in the sense of achieving values) to believe in something which is false -- usually by virtue of a placebo effect. For example: believing you are more likely to get a job offer than you really are, so you are confident at the job interview.

The counterargument I want to make, in my head, is that if you have the ability to deceive yourself to that extent -- to make yourself believe something that is false -- then you have t... (read more)

I think the best response to the argument for instrumentally useful false beliefs is to think a little about the causal mechanism. Surely it is not the case that Omega reads your minds, sees your false confidence, and orders you hired. As you noted, a more plausible mechanism is that the false confidence causes changes in affect (i.e. appearing confident) that are beneficial for the task. Or perhaps false over-confidence cancels false under-confidence that would have caused anxiety that would be detrimental for the task. Once the causal chain is examined, the next thing to ask is whether the beneficial intermediate effects can be caused by something other than false belief. If so, you have answered the claim you are responding to. If not, examining why one doesn't believe it possible needs to be examined.
Changing the Definition of Science

I'm curious as to whether Wegener's theory of continental drift works as a case where a Bayesian model would have done better than Science. The coincidences, paleontogical, biological, and geological, between South America and Africa -- how they fit together in so many ways -- should have been seen as convincing evidence for continental drift, even before plate tectonics was invented to provide a mechanism....or am I overidealizing the past?