Comment Rescue: True Rejections
A True Rejection is a scenario or a set of facts that — if it were true — would cause you to revise a conclusion that you have expressed. New commenter OhB1Knewbie understands:
THIS IS A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT ! The purpose is not to win the argument. The purpose is to attempt a bit of self-examination and reflection. The goal of the game is to tease apart the two portions that form the foundation of any individual’s position. Any individual’s position has as its foundation an amalgam of logic/reason and emotion/faith. It is hoped that by separating these two constituents of the foundation that the part based on logic/reason may be examined to determine if in fact it is the True Rejection or if it is actually just a straw dog set up to protect and shield the emotion/faith based portion of the foundation of the individual’s position.
This exactly. If the logic/reason part is in the driver’s seat, then a change in certain facts or a discovered flaw in one’s deductions will cause a change in outcome. If the emotion/faith part is in the driver’s seat, then a change in the facts or deductions on which one is currently relying will… cause you to find new facts or deductions that lead you to believe the same old thing. OhB1Knewbie continues:
The underlying thesis [of the True Rejection game] is that unless you are addressing the logical foundation rather than the emotional foundation you’re wasting your time and energy. Because only the logical foundation is susceptible to change by the refutation or amending of the facts upon which it is based, only that portion should be addressed while the emotional foundation should be set aside in recognition that it will only change after a long slow simmer in the soup of logic/reason.
To honestly play the game, a player must search the cosmos of both the possible and the impossible to find something which would, if it were true, change their mind and hence their position. Failure to do so is to lose the game by default because you have refused to play. This is generally interpreted to imply that the logical foundation of your position is in fact only a straw dog intended to protect the emotional foundation which you have no intention of exposing or defending.
Of course all of this is predicated on the idea that decisions should be based only on logic/reason and not on emotion/faith, the purpose of which is to separate the educated/civilized from the ignorant/barbarian within any individual. The game is structured in recognition of the fact that we are all human and therefore tend to obstruct even ourselves in the honest evaluation of our motives and therefore are assisted by the abstraction of our logic/reason that the game necessitates.
This seems more or less right to me as well. Introspection suggests that emotional commitments can and do change over time, but it does take a good long while.
However, as Eliezer Yudkowsky has previously explained, True Rejections aren’t always easy to pin down:
I suspect that, in general, if two rationalists set out to resolve a disagreement that persisted past the first exchange, they should expect to find that the true sources of the disagreement are either hard to communicate, or hard to expose. E.g:
- Uncommon, but well-supported, scientific knowledge or math;
- Long inferential distances;
- Hard-to-verbalize intuitions, perhaps stemming from specific visualizations;
- Zeitgeists inherited from a profession (that may have good reason for it);
- Patterns perceptually recognized from experience;
- Sheer habits of thought;
- Emotional commitments to believing in a particular outcome;
- Fear of a past mistake being disproven;
- Deep self-deception for the sake of pride or other personal benefits.
Nor can I say that I am immune to these. Though I’ll of course take it as a compliment if you say it about me, which many of you do all the time.