[SEQ RERUN] Belief as Attire

post by Tyrrell_McAllister · 2011-06-27T01:51:13.316Z · score: 5 (6 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 5 comments

Today's post, Belief as Attire, was originally published on 02 August 2007. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):

When you've stopped anticipating-as-if something is true, but still believe it is virtuous to believe it, this does not create the true fire of the child who really does believe. On the other hand, it is very easy for people to be passionate about group identification - sports teams, political sports teams - and this may account for the passion of beliefs worn as team-identification attire.

Discuss the post here (rather than in the comments to the original post).

This post is part of the Rerunning the Sequences series, in which we're going through Eliezer Yudkowsky's old posts in order, so that people who are interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was Professing and Cheering, and you can use the sequence_reruns tag or rss feed to follow the rest of the series.

Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day's sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go here for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.

5 comments

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comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-29T13:32:06.470Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is a reply to:

What would falsify that model of belief as attire? - lockeandkeynes

Must we be able to? I didn't read this as a scientific theory which makes predictions but instead as a description of a category or class of reasons-people-beleive-in-things.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-29T15:16:46.346Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Would someone be kind enough to explain why my comment is downvoted? (I cannot learn why what I said was wrong without it). Since this post invites comments and discussion I am a bit confused.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-06-29T15:37:15.820Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Welcome to Less Wrong, Chimera! Check out the Welcome Thread and introduce yourself.

I'm not the downvoter, but I support people's desire to know why they got voted down, so I'll share my hypothesis. I think that "Belief as Attire" is intended to be a theory which makes testable predictions. For instance, it would predict that people profess non-anticipation-controlling beliefs that identify them with a group they want to be in more often than those that do not identify them with such a group. It also predicts that non-group-identifying improper beliefs, when professed, will not be as passionate as group-identifying ones. Furthermore, a "description of a category or class of reasons-people-believe-in-things," as you put it, would qualify as a belief, "People believe in certain things for such-and-such reasons," and would constrain anticipation in the way described above.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-06-29T17:00:45.832Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for your nice comment. I re-read the post and the previous posts much more carefully got slightly better understanding: The discussion is about belief as group-identification (which is renamed to belief-as-attire by the second paragraph). I took "something you have in common with others, that allows identification with a group" as a description of the term but you have used that as a prediction that it makes about people with this property.

It also predicts that non-group-identifying improper beliefs, when professed, will not be as passionate as group-identifying ones.

That is probably enough to make it falsifiable, since we could construct experiments to measure that.

Furthermore, a "description of a category or class of reasons-people-believe-in-things," as you put it, would qualify as a belief, "People believe in certain things for such-and-such reasons,"

In my understanding there is no explanatory power in this text: it's not offering any explanation as to why people would hold a belief as attire rather than as cheering, anticipation-controlling or any of the other categories described. All we get is a description of or criteria for recognizing belief as attire.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-06-29T18:05:24.093Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In my understanding there is no explanatory power in this text: it's not offering any explanation as to why people would hold a belief as attire rather than as cheering, anticipation-controlling or any of the other categories described. All we get is a description of or criteria for recognizing belief as attire.

This is by and large correct. The fact that people hold beliefs as attire does not say anything as to why they do so. What's being explained is the question, "Why do people believe such-and-such things?" and the explanation is "to identify with their group." "Why do people hold beliefs that connect them to their groups?" is a separate question, and the answer probably lies in evolutionary psychology.