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Author Topic:   The Power of Belief
ProtoTypical
Member
Posts: 1769
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 31 of 61 (666491)
06-27-2012 8:56 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by Modulous
06-26-2012 10:31 AM


Re: The treachery of models
Magritte is identifying two things. The pipe, and a picture of the pipe. He asserts that the picture of a pipe is not itself a pipe.

I'm not suggesting that the model of reality exists spiritually. It exists physically - as a result of certain brain structures.

Yes OK it is not dualism.

Is it the possibility of a thing that makes you believe in it?
No, it's your personal assessment of the possibility of a thing that makes you believe in it. Your assessment may be erroneous.

OK, good distinction but our assessments are often correct and when they are not, we correct them and so the erroneous belief does not last and we get better at making assessments.

Is it significant that your belief is part of the variable that includes gravity and oxygen content?
No, it was just to make it simpler to write it out. I just lumped all variables into a 'supervariable'.

Sure but where else where you going to put it? My point is that it is one of the variables.

If you choose to believe something because it makes you feel better, hasn't that belief altered your reality?
I would say it has altered your model of reality. The reality that you inhabit has not been altered (other than say, your brain).

If I look at a pipe, the image of that pipe in my head is not the same thing as an image of the pipe on a piece of paper.

I am the observer. The image in my head may be flawed and require adjustment but as far as I am concerned, it equates with reality. It must for the world to be rational. Fortunately, it usually does....at least as far as I can tell. In other words, my perception of reality is all that I have to go on. This is what I mean by your reality. I appreciate the distinction that you are making but which reality are we concerned with? We want our model to match as closely as possible and we constantly adjust it when we believe that it is necessary. Even though it may be flawed it is the only one we have.

This point is more important with regard to something like a belief in the afterlife. That belief, true or false, can have a very real and tangible affect on your existence. If you believe that you will be reunited with your loved ones and this belief causes you to be a happier person then you are, in fact, a happier person. Your belief has changed both your model of reality and the other one.

Assume for a moment then that FTL travel is possible. If enough people work toward achieving it then we will, no doubt, discover it. If no one believes that FTL travel is possible and no one works toward it then we will be far less likely to discover it as you and Panda both point out. These are two massively different possible futures with belief as the main variable.


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ProtoTypical
Member
Posts: 1769
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 32 of 61 (666492)
06-27-2012 9:02 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by Huntard
06-25-2012 5:13 PM


Hey Huntard,

No matter how hard you train, and how perfect your genes are, no one will ever, ever, ever run the mile in under 2 minutes. It would have to take significant enhancing technologies (be they genetic or purely technical) for this to be possible.

You see how you offered 2 potential solutions to something you just said was impossible. That is the start of those solutions coming into existence.


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Huntard
Member (Idle past 274 days)
Posts: 2870
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 33 of 61 (666498)
06-28-2012 3:37 AM
Reply to: Message 32 by ProtoTypical
06-27-2012 9:02 PM


Hello Dogmafood,

Dogmafood writes:

You see how you offered 2 potential solutions to something you just said was impossible. That is the start of those solutions coming into existence.


But if we use those solutions, we are no longer talking about the world record as it is currently measured. They are considered cheating. You see, if someone were to use one of these:

They'd already be able to run the mile much faster than the current world record. I'm sure people have already done so. Yet, we don't see those times mentioned as "the world record" because it doesn't adhere to the rules we have set for that "world record". Likewise with my solutions. If you were to use one of them and run the mile in under two minutes, it wouldn't be recognized as the "world record". So, the only way the world record will be run in under two minutes is to change the rules for the world record, not my two solultions. And if we change those rules, then really, what's the point of the world record anyway, anything's possible then.


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 83 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 34 of 61 (666508)
06-28-2012 8:35 AM
Reply to: Message 31 by ProtoTypical
06-27-2012 8:56 PM


Re: The treachery of models
OK, good distinction but our assessments are often correct and when they are not, we correct them and so the erroneous belief does not last and we get better at making assessments.

Yes, that's the general idea. But it doesn't work entirely like that in practice. The human brain isn't quite good enough to do things that way. We'll consistently make the same kinds of mistakes as a result of the way our brain is set up, and no amount of learning will ever correct for that.

Think about optical illusions as a type of mistake: Even if we learn that a particular instance is an optical illusion, it won't stop us from 'falling for' another optical illusion later, even one based on the same principles.

We give too much respect to authority figures, we expect too much respect as authority figures. We detect agency where there is none, see patterns where this is randomness. And other assorted cognitive mistakes that we cannot completely learn to compensate for.

Sure but where else where you going to put it? My point is that it is one of the variables.

Then I'm not sure why you raise that point. We are certainly in agreement that it is a variable - it's just not particularly significant that both the level of belief you have and the local gravity are variables.

If I look at a pipe, the image of that pipe in my head is not the same thing as an image of the pipe on a piece of paper.

Exactly: And it doesn't matter what beliefs you have in your head about that picture in your mind - it won't alter the reality of the picture itself.

I am the observer. The image in my head may be flawed and require adjustment but as far as I am concerned, it equates with reality.

If you are going to stand a chance at learning how to compensate for your cognitive shortcomings, you'll have to change this mental equivalence you have set up between 'the way things seem' and 'the way things are'. I know that you later indicate you acknowledge the equivalence isn't perfect.

In other words, my perception of reality is all that I have to go on. This is what I mean by your reality. I appreciate the distinction that you are making but which reality are we concerned with? We want our model to match as closely as possible and we constantly adjust it when we believe that it is necessary. Even though it may be flawed it is the only one we have.

The point is that when our model does not correspond well with reality - we may harbour beliefs about what is possible that are false. And no amount of fervent belief is going to get us to our goal if it is not possible in reality.

I agree it may be flawed, and it's the only one we have and that it is subject to change. My point is regarding those very flaws: If you have an erroneous model of the universe, you may erroneously believe in FTL. And even if you believe it with a faith that would make Abraham look like an atheist - it just ain't going to happen if it is in reality not possible.

This point is more important with regard to something like a belief in the afterlife. That belief, true or false, can have a very real and tangible affect on your existence. If you believe that you will be reunited with your loved ones and this belief causes you to be a happier person then you are, in fact, a happier person. Your belief has changed both your model of reality and the other one.

I agree that certain models of reality are more pleasant to believe than others. I could have a model of reality where I believe all humans are trustworthy and honourable. I'm sure that would be more comforting than the model I actually hold.

I was really just pointing out that 'your reality' is a bit of a strange term. If I change what you said to

quote:
How would you define the extent of your ability to effect the nature of your model of reality simply by adjusting your opinion of it?

I'd say that it's almost tautological that by changing your opinion of your model of reality, you are having an effect on the nature of your model of reality.

Assume for a moment then that FTL travel is possible. If enough people work toward achieving it then we will, no doubt, discover it.

Your high opinions of human intellect are noted. But it may be possible, but the solution is so difficult to arrive at that humans never get there. Just like monkeys will never get Shakespeare (without significant changes to their brains), we may never get FTL.

If no one believes that FTL travel is possible and no one works toward it then we will be far less likely to discover it as you and Panda both point out. These are two massively different possible futures with belief as the main variable.

The thing is, you are giving belief a little too much power. Yes, it may even be a mandatory requirement for certain technological advances - but that doesn't mean with enough belief we can achieve anything that's physically possible. If we lack the required capacity, k, we simply will never get there - even if over time with large number of minds at work on it, if we can't get to k, we're out of luck.


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 Message 31 by ProtoTypical, posted 06-27-2012 8:56 PM ProtoTypical has responded

Replies to this message:
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ProtoTypical
Member
Posts: 1769
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 35 of 61 (666614)
06-29-2012 6:30 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by Modulous
06-28-2012 8:35 AM


The importance of optimism
Then I'm not sure why you raise that point. We are certainly in agreement that it is a variable - it's just not particularly significant that both the level of belief you have and the local gravity are variables.

I find it to be at least interesting that one's belief can be as influential on the possibility (abe;probability) of a thing as gravity. Seems a little unscientific.

I am the observer. The image in my head may be flawed and require adjustment but as far as I am concerned, it equates with reality.
If you are going to stand a chance at learning how to compensate for your cognitive shortcomings, you'll have to change this mental equivalence you have set up between 'the way things seem' and 'the way things are'.

What cognitive shortcomings?!?

As with any reproduction, there are imperfections. I would say that we are actually really good at spotting them. Not perfect but pretty good. It is a constant process of reassessment. At least it is for some of us.

How many of the things that you see on your desk are not really there? What percentage of the things that you believe to be true are not true?

The point is that when our model does not correspond well with reality - we may harbour beliefs about what is possible that are false. And no amount of fervent belief is going to get us to our goal if it is not possible in reality.

I think that I agreed with that already. My point is that no matter how possible something might be we may never get there if we don't believe that we can.

I'd say that it's almost tautological that by changing your opinion of your model of reality, you are having an effect on the nature of your model of reality.

Consider the depressed individual. Suffering a miserable existence that is miserable because they believe it to be so. I know that I have thought my way out of a state of depression. Certainly not true for all cases of depression but the way that you think can physically change the balance of chemicals in your brain. Physically change 'your reality'. This is more than tautological.

If I could just change the frame of reference a bit. Have a listen to this interview with Neil Degrasse Tyson if you like. It starts around 29:45. He speaks about the importance of vision and it's cascading effects.

Edited by Dogmafood, : No reason given.


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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10270
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 36 of 61 (666621)
06-29-2012 8:44 AM
Reply to: Message 35 by ProtoTypical
06-29-2012 6:30 AM


Re: The importance of optimism
Dog writes:

My point is that no matter how possible something might be we may never get there if we don't believe that we can.

You now seem to be talking about the idea that if we don't believe something is possible then we may not even bother taking the actions that will lead to finding out whether it is genuinely physically achievable or not.

But when you started out in this thread you seemed to be suggesting that simply believing something could alter physical reality to make it possible.

These are two different things.

If perpetual motion (for example) is a genuine physical impossibility then no amount of self belief is going to allow me to invent a perpetual motion machine. But if perpetual motion is physically possible (i.e. the laws of physics as we understand them are wrong) then we are unlikely to invent a perpetual motion machine unless there is somebody out there who believes it to be possible and who is willing to pursue this belief despite the widespread derision of their peers.

My question to you is this - In terms of self-belief how do we distinguish between the delusional cranks pursuing subjective nonsense and insightful individuals who are ahead of their time?

Because conviction alone (i.e. the power of belief) isn't enough to make this distinction is it?


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ProtoTypical
Member
Posts: 1769
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 37 of 61 (666752)
06-29-2012 4:28 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by Straggler
06-29-2012 8:44 AM


Re: The importance of optimism
You now seem to be talking about the idea that if we don't believe something is possible then we may not even bother taking the actions that will lead to finding out whether it is genuinely physically achievable or not.
But when you started out in this thread you seemed to be suggesting that simply believing something could alter physical reality to make it possible.
These are two different things.

Well yes they are different things. The thread is progressing and the idea's are being refined. Im sorry if I gave the impression that I had come up with Dogmafood's all encompassing grand and unbelievable theory of the power of belief. The fact is that I have to make some statement to get the ball rolling. It does not bother me at all to admit to changing my position. In fact, that is my purpose in participating in these discussions. To alter or confirm what I believe to be true. This is a perfect example of re-evaluating my model of reality. Well that and providing all you genius types an opportunity to shine brightly against my dimness. Honestly, I participate here because I fully realize that there are a lot of very intelligent and well educated people who are very likely to teach me something if I can manage to be intelligent enough to a) engage them and b) understand what they are saying.

On the other hand, I have not really changed my position all that much. In the OP I clearly stated that my belief in being able to fly does not mean that I can jump from the building and fly with my arms. When I said

quote:
It is clear to me that if I believe something with enough conviction that I can make it so.

I don't think people stopped to consider why I believe what I believe. Immediately the objections go to the extreme examples that disprove the statement. Like FTL and PM. Of course, I do not believe with great conviction that FTL or PM are possible.

My objective is to identify the extent of the truth of the idea. I think that we have established that a person's belief in their abilities is one of the variables that contribute to the likelihood of that thing actually being accomplished. In other words, the belief is required to make the thing achievable. In still some more words, it is the belief that moves the thing from the realm of the impossible into the realm of the possible. Take something that is physically possible (according to the laws of nature) but unachievable without a high degree of commitment or belief. From an egocentric position, is the thing possible or not without the belief?

...suggesting that simply believing something could alter physical reality to make it possible.

The example of the depressed person changing their reality still stands. Mod's answer to the example of belief in an afterlife sort of sidestepped the fact that that belief actually changes the holder's reality regardless of whether the belief is fallacious or not. He also used a counter example that could be proved false and would necessitate the changing of one's belief.

My question to you is this - In terms of self-belief how do we distinguish between the delusional cranks pursuing subjective nonsense and insightful individuals who are ahead of their time?
Because conviction alone (i.e. the power of belief) isn't enough to make this distinction is it?

No it is not. Somebody raised this point before. What is the predictive power of the idea? I don't know. I guess it comes to a close examination of all the elements that go into forming a belief and weeding out the ones that are suspect or held with a lower degree of certainty. I suppose that there are different types of belief. Believing that 2 and 2 are 4 is not really in the same category as believing that you can run a mile in 3:40.

Take the Higgs-Boson thing-a-ma-jiggy for example. Professor Higgs postulated it's existence and supplied his justifications. Enough people agreed with him to devote billions of dollars to go looking for it. The belief that the Higgs exists is not the same as the belief in an afterlife. There is a conflation here between belief and faith.


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 83 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 38 of 61 (666820)
06-29-2012 8:03 PM
Reply to: Message 35 by ProtoTypical
06-29-2012 6:30 AM


Re: The importance of optimism
I find it to be at least interesting that one's belief can be as influential on the possibility (abe;probability) of a thing as gravity. Seems a little unscientific.

I deliberately avoided quantifying anything, so I am not saying that belief is equally influential as gravity. I'm just saying that belief, like gravity, can vary in different situations.

As with any reproduction, there are imperfections. I would say that we are actually really good at spotting them. Not perfect but pretty good. It is a constant process of reassessment. At least it is for some of us.

Actually , we're not that great. We're OK, sometimes we can be great. But when we're in normal mode, not thinking deeply about something, we make all sorts of assumptions.

Even our visual experience is one big delusion. It really 'looks' like everything is in focus more or less, full colour. But sections are black and white, and most of it is really poorly focused, and there's bits completely missing. Your brain is doing huge heavy lifting and it takes lots of shortcuts to get the work done efficiently. It's these shortcuts that optical illusions exploit.

It is quite good with things we come across naturally and commonly, things it's evolved to respond to. But really, once we're out of a comfort zone (and modern man is almost always out of his evolved comfort zone), we make all sorts of mistakes, and we're convinced we're not making them.

There are industries for exploiting these cognitive shortcomings. Moving pictures, Con artists, religion, magic/mentalism and (although it might complicated to explain why) poker.

How many of the things that you see on your desk are not really there?

Get someone to spread a set of cards out in front of you in a grid pattern. Stare at a central card and try to identify the other cards. I suspect it'll be trickier than it should be if they are all in focus and being displayed visually clearly, which is the way it seems to be.

It might be difficult in practice, our eyes really want to dance around...it's how the illusion is maintained.

Consider the depressed individual. Suffering a miserable existence that is miserable because they believe it to be so. I know that I have thought my way out of a state of depression.

A true depression isn't something that can be shaken off with thinking. It can be ameliorated through techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I say this only to try to tackle head on the stigma that depressed people just need to 'pull themselves together'. That might work here and there, in easy cases, but in a nightmarish descent into despair it's just going to make you feel guilty for being such a failure that you can't pull yourself together or think your way out of it.

Ahem *Removes mental health advocacy hat, replaces it with philosopher's cap*

Certainly not true for all cases of depression but the way that you think can physically change the balance of chemicals in your brain. Physically change 'your reality'.

The question is, in what order does the balance of chemicals change in your brain. Is it

1. Think happy thoughts
2. Brain chemistry changes.
3. No more unhappiness.

Or is it

1. Brain chemistry changes
2. Think happy thoughts.
3. No more unhappiness.

I'm not sure, but I'm placing my bets that it's sometimes, and I'd even believe 'often', the latter.

If I could just change the frame of reference a bit. Have a listen to this interview with Neil Degrasse Tyson if you like. It starts around 29:45. He speaks about the importance of vision and it's cascading effects.

Hmm, can't get it to work, could you paraphrase? I do like a bit of NDgT


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ProtoTypical
Member
Posts: 1769
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 39 of 61 (666830)
06-29-2012 9:33 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by Modulous
06-29-2012 8:03 PM


Re: The importance of optimism
Hmm, can't get it to work, could you paraphrase? I do like a bit of NDgT

Basically he was lamenting the lack of visionary thinking in general and the lack of investment in NASA and space exploration in particular. He makes the economic case for increasing the investment. He points to all of the unexpected benefits of space exploration such as MRI and the whole radiology dept in any hospital.

He makes a lot of the same points in these videos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlGemHL5vLY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbIZU8cQWXc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFO2usVjfQc&feature=relmfu


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ProtoTypical
Member
Posts: 1769
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 40 of 61 (666831)
06-29-2012 10:20 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by Modulous
06-29-2012 8:03 PM


Re: The importance of optimism
I deliberately avoided quantifying anything, so I am not saying that belief is equally influential as gravity. I'm just saying that belief, like gravity, can vary in different situations.

I noticed and appreciate that. Taking what I can get, I am happy to hear you say that belief is one of the inputs in the calculation. I suppose it is more accurate to say that if gravity says it is OK then you can go on and include the level of belief in the calculation.

The question is, in what order does the balance of chemicals change in your brain.

I had the same question but was trying desperately to avoid another free will discussion.

I'm not sure, but I'm placing my bets that it's sometimes, and I'd even believe 'often', the latter.

I would agree but is it always the latter?


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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10270
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 41 of 61 (666873)
06-30-2012 4:25 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by ProtoTypical
06-29-2012 4:28 PM


Re: The importance of optimism
DG writes:

In still some more words, it is the belief that moves the thing from the realm of the impossible into the realm of the possible.

And this is where I think you are going wrong. Or at least conflating terminology. Positive thinking cannot cause miracles. Belief cannot make that which is impossible possible.

However if all you are saying is that for humans to achieve things which are physically possible but difficult for humans to achieve a certain rather focused state of mind is required - Then I guess there isn't much to disagree about.

I just think you are making this sound more mystical and impressive than it really is.

DG writes:

Believing that 2 and 2 are 4 is not really in the same category as believing that you can run a mile in 3:40.

Is believing that you can run a mile in 3:40 in the same category as believing that you can run a mile in under a second? What is it that qualifies something to be categorised in the way you are talking about here?


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ProtoTypical
Member
Posts: 1769
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 42 of 61 (666908)
07-01-2012 8:40 AM
Reply to: Message 41 by Straggler
06-30-2012 4:25 PM


Re: The importance of optimism
And this is where I think you are going wrong. Or at least conflating terminology. Positive thinking cannot cause miracles. Belief cannot make that which is impossible possible.

Well, nothing causes miracles Straggler but belief is certainly one of the factors involved when determining the possibility of a thing. If it is a factor in the calculation then it can make that which is otherwise impossible possible. It is clear that the skeptic wants to dismiss belief as a force of nature. Why?

However if all you are saying is that for humans to achieve things which are physically possible but difficult for humans to achieve a certain rather focused state of mind is required - Then I guess there isn't much to disagree about.
I just think you are making this sound more mystical and impressive than it really is.

I guess my point is that it is far more impressive and potent than it is generally perceived to be.

Look at the effect that the general belief that the terrorists were coming has had on the level of freedom in the world today. Or what causes a run on the bank? What part does belief play in the health of our economies? Why is the bias of any particular news service important? What part does belief play in the turmoil of the Middle East? Are these trivial things?


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 83 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 43 of 61 (666910)
07-01-2012 9:13 AM
Reply to: Message 42 by ProtoTypical
07-01-2012 8:40 AM


Re: The importance of optimism
I guess my point is that it is far more impressive and potent than it is generally perceived to be.

In my experience its less impressive and potent than it is generally perceived to be. That's why popular books like The Secret indicate that people often give way too much power to belief.


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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10270
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 44 of 61 (667001)
07-02-2012 6:22 AM
Reply to: Message 42 by ProtoTypical
07-01-2012 8:40 AM


The Power Of (BLANK)
Dogma writes:

Believing that 2 and 2 are 4 is not really in the same category as believing that you can run a mile in 3:40.

Is believing that you can run a mile in 3:40 in the same category as believing that you can run a mile in under a second? What is it that qualifies something to be categorised in the way you are talking about here?

Dogma writes:

Well, nothing causes miracles Straggler but belief is certainly one of the factors involved when determining the possibility of a thing.

It is a factor in as to whether something will happen or not in the same way that desire or fear or arrogance or embarrassment or stupidity, or indeed any other human state of mind, is a factor. It is not a factor in the same way that the laws of physics are a factor as to whether something is inherently achievable or not. So - again - I think you are conflating different concepts of what it means for something to be "possible".

Dogma writes:

It is clear that the skeptic wants to dismiss belief as a force of nature. Why?

A "force of nature".....? It is this sort of language along with notions of "making the impossible possible" that suggests you are elevating belief into some form of mind-over-matter magical mysticism.

Dogma writes:

If it is a factor in the calculation then it can make that which is otherwise impossible possible.

My desire to avoid sitting in traffic combined with my belief that the bus will be stuck in traffic causes me to cycle to work. Without this belief I wouldn't have cycled to work today. Has my desire to avoid sitting on a bus in a traffic jam combined with this belief "made the impossible possible"...? Would you describe my belief in buses getting stuck in traffic as a "force of nature" that "shapes my reality"...?

My son believes in Santa Claus. This causes him to leave a mince pie and glass of wine for Santa and a carrot for the reindeers on Christmas eve. Has his belief "made the impossible possible"...? Would you describe his belief that Rudolf will enjoy the carrot he has left as a "force of nature" that "shapes his reality"...?

It all sounds so powerful when you start talking about "the power of belief" but the fact is all human activity (most of which is rather trivial) is based on what we believe to be true. Everything we consciously do is based on some sort of belief isn't it?

So what exactly is it you are highlighting as "special" here?

Dogma writes:

I guess my point is that it is far more impressive and potent than it is generally perceived to be.

I guess my point is that if you dress it up in certain language you can make any human activity sound like it is derived from "the power of belief". Because humans act on what they believe to be true all the time.

Dogma writes:

Look at the effect that the general belief that the terrorists were coming has had on the level of freedom in the world today.

I would say fear was the primary factor here.

Dogma writes:

Or what causes a run on the bank?

When people collectively act out of fear or desperation or anything else they are capable of both great and stupid things.

Dogma writes:

Why is the bias of any particular news service important?

Because it manipulates people's behaviour in a direction determined by someone else.

Dogma writes:

Are these trivial things?

Humans can achieve things which I think we would both agree are non-trivial. But are these things any more dictated by the human state of mind you are calling "belief" than many of the rather hum-drum things we all do on a daily basis?

If you are simply saying humans constantly act on their beliefs and humans are sometimes capable of non-trivial things - Then I guess I agree.

But I'm not sure this warrants the sort of mystical sounding hype you are giving it. You could just as easily talk about the power of sex or the power of greed or the power of love or the power of any other state of mind that drives people to do the things they do.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 42 by ProtoTypical, posted 07-01-2012 8:40 AM ProtoTypical has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 45 by ProtoTypical, posted 07-03-2012 9:20 AM Straggler has not yet responded

  
ProtoTypical
Member
Posts: 1769
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 45 of 61 (667111)
07-03-2012 9:20 AM
Reply to: Message 44 by Straggler
07-02-2012 6:22 AM


Re: The Power Of (BLANK)
Stagger writes:

Is believing that you can run a mile in 3:40 in the same category as believing that you can run a mile in under a second?

Bit of a straw man there Straggler. Who believes that they can run a mile in under a second? On the other hand, had someone said that they could run the mile in 3:43 way back in 1913 they would have been laughed at.

What is it that qualifies something to be categorised in the way you are talking about here?

I don't know. Running the mile in under a second seems to fall into the unbelievable category while a quantum computer or manned space flight to Alpha Centauri do not.

It is a factor in as to whether something will happen or not in the same way that desire or fear or arrogance or embarrassment or stupidity, or indeed any other human state of mind, is a factor.

I would say that all of those elements go into forming your beliefs. Your beliefs are a summary of your state of mind.

It is not a factor in the same way that the laws of physics are a factor as to whether something is inherently achievable or not.

How many times do I have to agree with this point. From the OP

quote:
I am not suggesting that my belief in being able to fly has any effect on the laws of aerodynamics but it does effect the chances of the plane being built.

Having legs is a big factor in whether or not you can run the mile in 3:40. A much bigger factor than your belief in your ability to do it. OK?

A "force of nature".....? It is this sort of language along with notions of "making the impossible possible" that suggests you are elevating belief into some form of mind-over-matter magical mysticism.

If it is a force then it is a force of nature. Impossible/possible is not the central point but just an egocentric assessment. Lets say accomplished and un-accomplished. Actually, what I am trying to do is to de-couple the reality of the effect of belief from the woo. Perhaps doing a poor job but none the less. Your position diminishes the power of belief right out of existence which is also wrong.

My son believes in Santa Claus. (snip) Would you describe his belief that Rudolf will enjoy the carrot he has left as a "force of nature" that "shapes his reality"...?

I would certainly say that his belief in Santa shapes his reality. Would you not?

Would you say that a berserker's rage changes his reality or the reality of those that he meets on the battlefield? Any forces of nature at work there?

I said;
Look at the effect that the general belief that the terrorists were coming has had on the level of freedom in the world today.

I would say fear was the primary factor here.

Fear is an excellent example of your beliefs fucking with your reality.

When people collectively act out of fear or desperation or anything else they are capable of both great and stupid things.

Bingo. It is not magic.

I said;
Why is the bias of any particular news service important?
Because it manipulates people's behaviour in a direction determined by someone else.

Exactly and as behaviour is at least partially dictated by belief it is rather important what people believe to be true.

Humans can achieve things which I think we would both agree are non-trivial. But are these things any more dictated by the human state of mind you are calling "belief" than many of the rather hum-drum things we all do on a daily basis?

Yes they are. Your belief is a factor in both riding your bike to work and climbing Mt Everest. I would say that it is more of a factor in one of those activities.

You could just as easily talk about the power of sex or the power of greed or the power of love or the power of any other state of mind that drives people to do the things they do.

No, sex is different. More of an instinctive thing. Love and greed maybe as your conscious mind might have a little more input but it is all covered by your beliefs whatever the drivers are. I think that the salient point is that your beliefs are somewhat adjustable. Not entirely right but somewhat. Your sense of morality can over-ride your desire to mate with everything or rob from the weak.

Getting away from the idea that it is some sort of magical power and make the distinction between what you believe and what you wish were true. I fully agree that the power of knowledge far exceeds the power of belief but can we not quantify it any further than that?

---------------------------------------

My son believes in Santa Claus.

While we also celebrate at christmas time, I was careful to not instil a belief in Santa in my children. I viewed it as deceptive even though the belief brings a lot of joy to children. In the same way, what is wrong with believing in an afterlife if it actually brings a palpable joy? I can not bring myself to believe in an afterlife but I could certainly convince my children of one. The fact is that it takes some delicate manoeuvring to remove the idea that others have tried to convince them of. I have a bit of a doubt with regard to depriving my children of the joy of Santa. How is that different from depriving them of the joy of believing in an afterlife?

When your son draws a picture of a dog and a tree that only just barely looks like a dog and a tree, what do you say to him? Do you discourage him at every failure or do you encourage him to try again? I imagine it is the latter and why do you do that? You do it because his perception of his ability is extremely important to the actual development of his ability.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 44 by Straggler, posted 07-02-2012 6:22 AM Straggler has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 46 by Modulous, posted 07-03-2012 1:12 PM ProtoTypical has acknowledged this reply

  
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