Scary thought: it seems that it's easier to verify whether your belief is correct or not, than it is to prove it or derive it from first principles.

From this follows that progress of understanding and wisdom depends on people randomly arriving at correct beliefs, getting a chance to voice them, and having them win out over everyone else's voiced beliefs.

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@temporal Not to make things worse, but verification of beliefs can become an endless rabbit hole, depending on your starting assumptions. 😅

@sennomo Right. And quite likely you won't bother fully verifying it (much less adjusting the belief based on the verification result).

But then you act on your belief, and get some feedback from the reality, that may make you better or worse off. Or you voice it, and it gets to flight it out with competing beliefs, until eventually one belief stands victorious and spreads.

This is not to say the winning belief is always the most correct one. There's a lot of noise and self-sustaining memes.


@sennomo I think even in all that chaos, there's a bias towards preferring correct beliefs, so over long enough time, they accumulate.

This implies that whether or not your beliefs are correct, contributing to intellectual growth of humanity, may have less to do with your reasoning skills, and more to do with chance.

E.g. I happened to randomly arrive at a wrong (but hard to refute) belief, you happened to arrive at a correct one -> yours will eventually win out.


@sennomo There's a bit of anthropic principle vibe to this line of reasoning. Today, we have millions of people publishing their beliefs online. It's a sea of ideas. So when you see a blogger or a scientist that seems to nail some particular idea or mental framework, it may not be because they're incredibly smart and put a lot of work into their reasoning. It's probably just because they were the people who chanced at the right idea, over countless others who chanced at the wrong one.


@temporal consider science. A lot of physics is derived from .. some first principles.

_But_ those first principles do not verify it at all! Science works by making theories and then seeking to falsify them. Theories are never really verified, they're just not-falsified by the evidence. Evidence also indicates what area of parameters theories may be correct and falsified theories like newtonian physics are still usable in relevant regimes.

Suppose shouldn't over-stretch the meaning of above..

@temporal but still, like many false beliefs have pertinent facts out there that point very much to the theory being wrong.

But i suppose if we're talking about "what's true from scratch?", what facts are need explanation too..

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