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On the issue of belief!


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#1 Doctordick

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 08:27 PM

Belief is the single most devastating concept ever imposed upon humanity. There is no requirement for belief with regard to any concept of reality. The only requirement of any explanation of any kind is that it be consistent with what is known: i.e.., it produces no expectations counter to what has been experienced. Belief serves no purpose beyond presenting a prediction beyond what is actually expected. So long as prediction is consistent with expectations, there is no necessity of belief whatsoever. In actual fact, belief is in direct opposition to recognition of a competent represention of reality.

If you seriously disagree with my assessment with the circumstance please comment on this post. I would be seriously interested in your complaints.

Have fun—Dick

#2 C1ay

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 10:26 PM

Belief is the single most devastating concept ever imposed upon humanity.


I don't know about that. I think "faith" might give "belief" a run for its money as champion of that title.

#3 REASON

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 10:26 PM

Can we comment here if we agree? :ohdear:

I generally agree with your assessment.

I think beliefs are ways in which people categorize information by what is acceptable, and what is not. And yes, beliefs are typically formed around consistency with information already known and accepted. But as you stated, beliefs may not bear any resemblance to reality. My signature considers this. I've had other signatures geared around belief as well.

I think beliefs are ultimately formed of choice, but are generally positioned around, or linked with, the foundation of beliefs that are instilled in young children by their parents and other influential figures. It is often difficult for people to stray far from those formative beliefs. But by adulthood, people have the ability question or seek to reinforce their beliefs if they choose to do so. Therefore, people have to take responsibility for what it is they choose to believe.

So much of what people choose to believe, including myself, is apt to be false compared to reality, but some of us are more willing to not be so commited to a belief, and will alter their beliefs with new information if it is convincing. In the world of politics, this is called being a "flip-flopper" and is considered bad. As if, once you have formed a belief about something, no additional information should be allowed to alter that belief. I think that is absurd.


So long as prediction is consistent with expectations, there is no necessity of belief whatsoever. In actual fact, belief is in direct opposition to recognition of a competent represention of reality.


Would you be willing to elaborate on this statement of yours?

I thought this was an interesting point of view.

#4 modest

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 01:11 AM

While this is a common sentiment, I’ve never found it very satisfying. My only problem is the inability to properly, and more important objectively define belief. If we are going to say belief is a devastating concept then we have no choice but to define it and distinguish it from things like knowledge, facts, scientific theory, and experience. I don’t know if that sounds intuitively easy to other people, but to me it is incredibly subjective and difficult.

When I flip on a light switch, I expect the light to turn on. You might say I believe it will happen. I believe electricity has a path that is wired in such a way as I picture in my mind. I’ve never seen that wiring yet all evidence suggests it exists. Is this a belief or is it common knowledge, and what’s the difference? There may well be a difference, my point is that the difference is subjective and has failed to produce accuracy in the past.

A physicist might have good reasons to suspect string theory or M-theory (or any other unverified theory of your choice) is correct. Is this a belief and is it bad? Einstein certainly had a belief in GR before it was verified same as scientists believe in untested theories today. There can be no doubt that as evidence comes in some of these untested theories will slowly become verified. At what point does a belief in such a theory turn into more than a belief? Such a thing is subjective and cannot be quantified.

There is no buzzer that sounds when a belief becomes common knowledge nor when common knowledge becomes fact or reality. To say that belief is a devastating concept requires belief to have a rather peculiar and subjective definition that I don’t feel comfortable with. The word faith is better understood to denote such a concept, but I submit there is still wiggle room that makes sweeping generalizations improper.

~modest

#5 Rade

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 11:19 PM

Clearly Doctordick refers to "faith" not "belief". The hypothesis of science is a belief (also called educated guess) in the result of some expectation of future based on reasoned interpretation of past events. But, I will agree with Doctordick that some forms of belief are not based on reason, but on prejudice or authority of source--these ideas are best placed under the definition of faith.

#6 Overdog

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 08:59 PM

If you seriously disagree with my assessment with the circumstance please comment on this post. I would be seriously interested in your complaints.


Maybe you would be interested in my thread "What is the Nature of Knowledge"

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that that all we have are beliefs, and to the extent that we have any knowledge at all, it comes from the infrastructure which hosts the system of beliefs, or reason.

What do you say?

#7 Doctordick

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 06:34 AM

Faith and belief are two words addressing the same concept.

Would you be willing to elaborate on this statement of yours?

Everyone seems to find it necessary to operate on the basis that their mental picture of reality is an accurate and valid representation of truth. My point is that you can doubt it all and still live as if it's true. When one watches a movie, one can immerse one's self in the plot as if it is reality without believing it is true and you can do the same thing with “real life”. The point is to keep your mind open to doubt on everything; to always be aware of alternate possibilities. People seem to think of that circumstance as half way between two bales of hay, a point where no decision may be made but survival has made that outcome impossible. We decide whether we believe or not! That is the nature of survival itself.

(That's my opinion anyway!)

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that that all we have are beliefs, and to the extent that we have any knowledge at all, it comes from the infrastructure which hosts the system of beliefs, or reason.

What do you say?

How about, “all we have are inklings” and it is not necessary to believe they are true.

Have fun -- Dick

#8 Overdog

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 07:03 AM

...We decide whether we believe or not! That is the nature of survival itself.

(That's my opinion anyway!)
How about, “all we have are inklings” and it is not necessary to believe they are true.


I agree with you...but a minor clarification. We can't seperate emotion out of the equation in many cases.

It is more than an "inkling" when I say I "believe" you "know" what you are talking about.

How's that for a sentence.

If you get stung by a Hornet, I would say that what is imparted to your brain is a bit more substantial than an "inkling".

#9 Doctordick

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 09:18 PM

I agree with you...but a minor clarification. We can't seperate emotion out of the equation in many cases.

It is more than an "inkling" when I say I "believe" you "know" what you are talking about.

How's that for a sentence.

If you get stung by a Hornet, I would say that what is imparted to your brain is a bit more substantial than an "inkling".

Now here you are making the assumption that your mental model of reality is valid (that this thing you refer to as a “hornet” is a valid representation of reality). I am reminded of an earlier post I made to this forum.

So all thought is divided into two categories, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The great strength of logical thought is that the conclusions reached through logical thought are guaranteed to be as valid as the premises upon which they are based. The weakness of logical thought is that it is limited to a very small number of premises: i.e., the specific number of factors which can be included in the analytical statement of the problem. This is a seriously small number when compared to the volumes of information available to us through our senses.

A further problem with logical thought is that the number of specific steps in the process cannot be excessive as we must be consciously aware of each step. If we are to be truly logical, each and every step must be consciously validated. Anyone who has carefully thought anything out is very well aware of the fact that considerable time is consumed in such an analysis. If a logical process were to involve a million steps, I doubt many here would attempt to follow that logic. Now mathematics and formal logic provide us with a certain respite from that last constraint but, even so, logical thought is of very limited applicability.

Squirrel thought [If you want to investigate my definition of "squirrel thought", check out this entire post] has its own strengths and weaknesses. Its strength lies in the astonishing number of factors which may be taken into account. Its weakness is the fact that the process can not be validated: i.e., there is no way to prove a squirrel decision is correct. Nevertheless, most of them will be good decisions. Why is that? The answer should be clear. Whatever the mechanisms are, by which those decisions are reached, they have been honed and polished through millions of years of survival; failure to make good "squirrel" decisions has been cleaned from the gene pool by the consequences of the bad decisions.

Watch a basketball player dribble down the floor, dodging his opponents, sometimes dribbling behind his back, as he jumps suddenly sideways and snicks the ball through the net thirty feet away! Any athlete knows that very little logical thought goes into such a move. In fact, if you try to consciously think about what you are doing, you won't be able to do it. I think it was Buddha who once said all evil comes from conscious thought.

What I am getting at is the fact that logical thought is actually a rather worthless endeavor when it comes to life and death decisions. It is often much better to "go with your gut"; let it be a squirrel decision. In fact, in the absence of mathematics, logical decisions are so limited as to be almost entirely inapplicable to any day to day activities. This is why many students can not understand a purpose to learning mathematics. Actually they are quite right, neither math nor logic serve much of a purpose to important problems. I have known very successful people who have never made a logical decision in their entire life.

I suggest you think about the ramifications of that perspective.

Have fun -- Dick

#10 Overdog

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 06:24 AM

Now here you are making the assumption that your mental model of reality is valid (that this thing you refer to as a “hornet” is a valid representation of reality).


Yes, of course I am. I thought we agreed on that already in my previous post. I used the word "beliefs", and you used the word "inklings".

Then I attempted to move the discussion beyond that point to the suggestion that there are things we experience which are also constituents of our respective "realities" which are neither beliefs, inklings or assumptions.

In that effort, I made use of a concept (Hornet), further assuming this is a concept we share, to one degree or another, in our respective worldviews.

But if you read my words carefully...

If you get stung by a Hornet, I would say that what is imparted to your brain is a bit more substantial than an "inkling".


It isn't the "Hornet" that I'm saying is more than an inkling, but rather "...that which is imparted to your brain..."

For the sake of discussion, suppose we call this "Pain".

What I'm saying then, is that the pain one feels when stung by a Hornet, is neither a belief, inkling, or an assumption.

I would also say that my desire to have meaningful communication with you is not a belief, inkling, or assumption, but rather a motivation deriving from my nature as a social animal.

(Hornet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Pain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

#11 Overdog

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 03:06 AM

Doctordick:

I couldn't help noticing how quickly you responded to Modest's post in the thread "What is time" but have not responded to my previous post in this thread.

Since making assumptions is what I do, I can only assume the reason you have not responded is because you have realized you cannot respond at all without "making the assumption that your mental model of reality is valid".

Indeed, we have no choice but to make that assumption, and we cannot have any communications at all with another human being without making a whole host of additional assumptions.

I have no problem with that. What I am interested in discussing is what are the things we can know which are not beliefs, inklings, or assumptions.

#12 C1ay

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 06:15 AM

Doctordick:I couldn't help noticing how quickly you responded to Modest's post in the thread "What is time" but have not responded to my previous post in this thread.


I do the same at times. I encounter some replies where my own is readily at hand and others I wish to dwell on before chiseling it out in stone.

#13 nutronjon

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 08:02 AM

Can we comment here if we agree? :phones:

I generally agree with your assessment.

I think beliefs are ways in which people categorize information by what is acceptable, and what is not. And yes, beliefs are typically formed around consistency with information already known and accepted. But as you stated, beliefs may not bear any resemblance to reality. My signature considers this. I've had other signatures geared around belief as well.

I think beliefs are ultimately formed of choice, but are generally positioned around, or linked with, the foundation of beliefs that are instilled in young children by their parents and other influential figures. It is often difficult for people to stray far from those formative beliefs. But by adulthood, people have the ability question or seek to reinforce their beliefs if they choose to do so. Therefore, people have to take responsibility for what it is they choose to believe.

So much of what people choose to believe, including myself, is apt to be false compared to reality, but some of us are more willing to not be so commited to a belief, and will alter their beliefs with new information if it is convincing. In the world of politics, this is called being a "flip-flopper" and is considered bad. As if, once you have formed a belief about something, no additional information should be allowed to alter that belief. I think that is absurd.




Would you be willing to elaborate on this statement of yours?

I thought this was an interesting point of view.


Hum, how many members parents believed in aliens?

#14 nutronjon

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 08:15 AM

Clearly Doctordick refers to "faith" not "belief". The hypothesis of science is a belief (also called educated guess) in the result of some expectation of future based on reasoned interpretation of past events. But, I will agree with Doctordick that some forms of belief are not based on reason, but on prejudice or authority of source--these ideas are best placed under the definition of faith.


Now about the belief or faith in aliens that is based on authority. When we explore the possibility of aliens, what is behind this? Is it something different from accepting there is a God that we do and can not know, but is worthy of our consideration? And is a God we do and can know, a belief or a faith or something else? What if our look at aliens and our look at God is neither belief nor faith, but only a prespective when we look into the unknown?

#15 ldsoftwaresteve

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 09:03 AM

DD:

Belief is the single most devastating concept ever imposed upon humanity

Now that is a belief. C1ay answered that he thought 'faith' fit better and I have to say that is my belief too.

If you are not bullshitting, DD, then I'd have to admit that I am confused.

Now you did say 'issue' so that means we're talking about a response to something. So, it was a question asked of you. 'What is the single most devastating concept ever imposed upon humanity?'. And from you 'belief' issued forth.

And that is the nature of a belief: a response to a question. An honest response, which is why I am confused by your initial statement.

But now, after reading the preview, I notice that you say, 'imposed on humanity'. Who done the imposing? Nature? Evolution? I'm going with nature, which is actually calling at the moment so i'd better go. Us old farts can't hold it very long.

#16 REASON

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 09:09 AM

Hum, how many members parents believed in aliens?


I don't know, nutron. :confused:

What is your point? And what does it have to do with what I said?

#17 ldsoftwaresteve

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 09:14 AM

I don't know, nutron. :confused:

What is your point? And what does it have to do with what I said?


i'm guessing here. Because beliefs change over generations. My parents didn't even think about aliens. They were more interested in not being eaten by dinosaurs.