Ch1 L25: Beliefs – part I (prediction)

  1. When it comes to distinguishing between the concept of horse and donkey [1], a kid might not show any resistance [2] though it requires some effort [3]. To them, every day is full of unprecedented experiences and they learn many new words. However, if you contradict one of their beliefs, they’ll tenaciously fight to prove you wrong.
  2. You can run this experiment if there’s a kid around you. Tell them goodnight around 10 am and ask them to go to bed and argue as long as you can that it’s the night-time. You’d see how frustrated, puzzled or furious they look during the argument. If they’re very young, so they didn’t know how to argue, they’d stubbornly repeat the same sentence, expecting to make their point.
  3. But what is a belief? How is it formed and why can it make some people fight, kill or die for? Above all, why do we need beliefs?
  1. In several posts about the hierarchy of meanings or concepts [4], we saw that the amplitude or frequency of meanings makes them more important. On top of the hierarchy, we have beliefs which are meanings with high amplitude or frequency [5]. In order to construct a road, either you use a heavy road roller once (high amplitude), or you let many people walk on it over a long period, so the road would emerge [6].
  2. To study beliefs, we need some pre-requisite discussions. First of all, we should know about the dichotomy of belief and doubt. On the spectrum of probability [7], beliefs occupy the endpoints.
  1. When we say that the chance of an event is 0 or 1 (100%), for some reason we believe that it’s respectively impossible or definite. At any other point in between, we bear with some extent of doubt regarding its occurrence [8].
  1. In the 10th post, we faced a tiger for the first time and we managed to survive [9]. Back then, our brain hadn’t created the concept of tiger or danger and we only relied on our sensory evaluation of the situation and our instinctive response. Now, let’s see how our brain would analyze the situation if we ran into a tiger.
  1. This type of deductive reasoning [10] is called syllogism [11]. We’ll study the syllogistic structure in the logic chapter. However, this argument is the first step in thinking. So, we need to investigate it more meticulously.
  2. A syllogism consists of two main parts: a premise and a conclusion. The premise is also made up of two parts: the major premise and the minor premise.
  3. If an argument follows the syllogistic form and the premise is true, the conclusion will be undoubtedly true. If you know that all tigers are dangerous, and you see a tiger, you’ll be able to predict the danger.
  4. Death was the starting point of our journey and we discussed that survival is our main challenge [12]. So, knowing dangers is the priority and being able to predict them has significantly increased our chance to survive.
  5. We’ll continue the discussion about beliefs in the coming posts.

Exercise 25:

  1. Find the wrong form of a syllogistic structure which looks similar.
  2. How would we survive if we couldn’t predict?

Footnotes:

[1] Link to the post where we discussed the case in which a child learned to create the concept of “donkey”.

[2] The story could be different if a stranger told the kid without explanation or comparison that the animal wasn’t a horse, or the kid had overgrown assimilation. Link to the post about imbalanced assimilation and accommodation.

[3] To create a new concept requires some effort which is against minergie which is the term I defined to show our tendency to spend minimum energy to get things done. Link

[4] Link to the post about concepts.

[5] Link to the starting post about the hierarchy of meanings.

[6] That’s how the first roads emerged. A pioneer would walk to a destination (most probably a source of energy) and they’d walk back. So, people would follow their footsteps next time, given the fact that the pioneer chose the best (safest) path. It helped them avoid thorns, snake holes or any other dangers. So, they’d create a path in a long run.

[7] Again I rely on your basic knowledge of probability, despite the fact that I attempted to make a continuum. I know that our brain uses probability to make decisions even though we might not know its mathematical formula.

[8] Practically, we find an event impossible or certain if the chance is accordingly close to 0 or 1.

[9] Link to the post about facing the tiger.

[10] Link to more information about deductive reasoning.

[11] Link to more information about syllogism.

[12] Again link to the first post.

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