Six principles of a truth-friendly discourse

post by philh · 2016-10-08T16:56:59.994Z · score: 4 (7 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 3 comments

This is a link post for http://benjaminrosshoffman.com/six-principles-of-a-truth-friendly-discourse/

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comment by DanArmak · 2016-10-08T21:44:11.029Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

These six principles are true as far as they go, but I feel they're so weak so not to be very useful. I'd like to offer a more cynical view.

The article's goal is, more or less, to avoid being convinced of untrue things by motivated agents. This has a name: Defense Against the Dark Arts. And I feel like these six principles are about as effective in real life as taking the canonical DADA first year class and then going up against HPMOR Voldemort.

With today's information technology and globalization, we're all exposed to world-class Dark Arts practitioners. Not being vulnerable to Cialdini's principles might help defend you in an argument with your coworker. But it won't serve you well when doubting something you read in the news or in an FDA-endorsed study.

And whatever your coworker or your favorite blog was arguing probably derives from such a curated source to begin with. All arguments rest on factual beliefs - outside of math anyway - and most of us are very far from being able to verify the facts we believe. And your own prior beliefs need to be well supported, to avoid being rejected on the same basis.

comment by philh · 2016-10-09T19:56:56.977Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The article's goal is, more or less, to avoid being convinced of untrue things by motivated agents.

I think the article is trying to help groups set up discourse norms that help people find the truth. (The update uses the phrase "socioepistemic virtue".) It's not so much about helping individuals defend against other individuals, as about helping groups defend their members against bad agents.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-10-09T20:29:20.630Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Egalitarianism - Someone high-status holding a belief must never be offered, in itself, as a reason to believe something. It’s OK to take track records into account, but the default response to naming an authority figure’s or local celebrity's beliefs as reason for someone else to believe something is for it to be perceived as an argument from authority. Therefore, the track record argument should be made very explicitly, and with great care. if at all.

I don't think the problem is about naming authority figure's. Developing trust in institutions is a useful social mechanism. We can't reason in detail about every belief we have.