This essay is written in a stream-of-consciousness way. It is me trying to understand a contradiction in my thinking and acting.
- I want to improve my models.
- I believe it is easier to improve my models if they are made explicit.
- Therefore, I want to make my models explicit. [1,2]
- I don’t make my models explicit.
- CONTRADICTION [3,4]
So why 4.? Why don’t I make my models explicit? Part of the answer that comes up to “Why don’t I want to make my models explicit?” is a reflection of what Mark wrote here:
” Modeling is tricky. Verbalizing is tricky. Reality doesn’t come prepackaged, carved up to correspond perfectly to simple sentences.
When you write things down you can distort the underlying sense of what you meant. When you write things down you can kill the underlying sense of what you meant. Writing things down can be counterproductive. Being “rational” can be counterproductive.”
That may all be true, but that is not the true reason I don’t want to make models explicit.
A possible justification
- Intellectual beliefs correspond to the official position (the tribe sanctioned position) (belief in belief)
- Emotional beliefs correspond to the true beliefs (aliefs)
Reason is for rationalisation and arguing and justification to other tribe members . Thus your official positions better be socially acceptable. (Else you will be kicked out of the tribe which means death.)
This model explains why belief reporting (which is the reporting of aliefs or emotional beliefs) leads to many “ridiculous”, “shameful”, “guilt-ridden”, “wrong” reports. (1)
Thus the reason I don’t want to make models explicit is because I think doing so will get me kicked out of the tribe.
But there is no tribe to get kicked out off. My brain might still feel that we are a group of 150 people and if I lose them I die alone. But we are not hunter-gatherers anymore. If I want to get better models I need to make them explicit.
Conclusion, sort of
My goal is to have true beliefs that allow me to push the world where I want. A lot of my belief updating is bottleneck on psych issues. This “making my models explicit will get me kicked out of the tribe” is one of these issues. It follows that I need to solve psych issues in order to be able to belief update.
A step back
But also there are things that I feel will be killed by being made explicit prematurely and that I cannot capture. And it certainly is the case that I DO NOT WISH TO BE normative before having good descriptive models. (This leads heads first into the valley of bad rationality.) For these models I would like to alter them, whilst not making them explicit. I don’t yet understand how to navigate these considerations.Future
- Find beautiful video where people are given a political questionnaire and their answers are swapped around and then they proceed to defend the (false) answers
- Explore the desire to be descriptive before being normative.
- Why do I believe most people are not reasoning into the positions they hold.
(1) – In Freud’s language, belief reporting allows us to access the id that the societal superego keeps hidden from the ego. In a more modern language, it allows us to access the private and experiential self, and not the public self.