Sunday, August 19, 2012


I have given up caring what people believe. I now only care about their meta-beliefs (and their behavior). That is to say that, basically, I now care if people are willing to change their minds or not.

Most people's beliefs are so poorly informed that even taking them at their own word is problematic. This may be controversial, but consider what evidence your coworkers have for the following list of beliefs if they hold them: "the force of gravity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance", "evolution is true", "e=mc²", or "Jesus is the son of god". The point here is that most people, most of the time, have never seen first hand evidence for most of what they "know". What they Do have is judgement and experience, it is that judgement that I now consider my litmus test.

I want to get away from considering peoples beliefs, that's not whats difficult. What's hard is knowing how to choose what to believe. Did we evolve to be monogamous? Are people inherently good, whatever that might mean? Should we have a higher marginal tax rate? How to decide these kinds of things strikes me as enormously more interesting, and actually worthy of consideration.

What are your meta-beliefs? How do you decide what to believe?


  1. Most "meta-beliefs" may be pretty lame. That is... I don't think very many people decide what to believe, I think they accidentally get there.

    But I agree, that where the explanation isn't "by accident" it's more interesting than the beliefs themselves!

  2. I very much doubt that most people could explain their meta-beliefs, so for them it wouldn't be something they could talk about. But I think that the process is something that could be described. And that's why I am interested in them irrespective of peoples ability to explain them.

  3. I love your question - How do you decide what to believe? If you live in a country with freedom of speech and opportunity - Depending on conditioning/personality predispositions & environment influencers: people, education, evidence feedback loops that prove existing beliefs. I choose beliefs that feel good for me and respectful of everyone's individuality.