virus: Truth and Beauty

Reed Konsler (
Thu, 23 Oct 1997 13:44:42 -0400 (EDT)

>I think this points out another hidden assumption of mine.
>That there exist objective standards of evidence, and it
>is possible to say that some types of evidence are in
>fact better than others. If you don't like "objective"
>here, feel free to substitute "intersubjective for all
>thinking beings".
>Agree or disagree?

Of course. But be careful, you've just defined a kind
of "evidence" that is socially negotiated...constructed.
I think that there are "intersubjective standards of
evidence" but I also think that these standards are not
entirely "objective" and certianly not constant or
consistent. If we are now going to speak of
evidence and truth as something negotiated between
members of the community...well, I think that is
true...but it the past I was accused of being a subjectivist
for proposing it.

>If it can be shown that unreasonable beliefs play an important
>causal role in virtually all unfortunate and/or regrettable
>human decisions (involving, for example, fatal accidents,
>torture, oppression, hate crimes, abuse, genocide, etc.), would
>you change your position? I'm not saying they do (yet), I'm
>asking what if?

No. You would have to prove that the sum of all the negative
outcomes, weighted for caustive influence of "unreasonable"
beliefs, was greater than all the positive outcomes, weighted as

Sum( NO1 x CF1 ... NOn x CFn) [is > or =] Sum (PO1 x CF1 ... POn x CFn)


NO negative outcome (you make the scale)
PO positive outcome
CF causative factor (1 to 0)

In other words, it isn't sufficient to prove there are costs to unreasonable
beliefs, you must demontrate that these costs outweigh the benefits. If I
believed that the costs outweighed the benefits, I would change my mind.

Oh, you also would have to provide a feasible alternative to living without
unreasoned beliefs. I can think of no current examples.


Reed Konsler