Wednesday, May 21, 2014

More about beliefs vs. facts

This article refers to research that makes some progress on the question of how to correct false beliefs. At the same time, reading it renews the concern I discuss here and here. If the article is correct about the reason for the persistence of false beliefs, we should expect that some people hold correct beliefs for the wrong reasons. I.e. if beliefs can be based on something other than facts, then some beliefs will be only coincidentally consistent with facts. These coincidental cases can lead to an unjustified confidence in one's whole process of belief formation. I'm concerned that someone reading the article might reason as follows:
  • Global warming is a problem.
  • I believe that it is a problem.
  • Therefore, I am on the side of truth.
  • Therefore, my beliefs about other things are correct also.
Quite the meta-problem.

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