Belief - we don't need it

Hi everyone, I often just try substituting ‘wants to believe’ for ‘believes’. There are certainly some things we believe that we don’t want to believe (for example I might want to believe that I have a million pounds but I don’t believe I do). However, in most of the cases where beliefs seem to drive an extreme action, like terrorism, the ‘want’ to believe seems to be the key driver. In fact religious ‘beliefs’, given they are supported by faith and not evidence, actually seem to be almost totally volitional, and therefore very easily explicable by PCT. Back to the mundane example, surely we just use the term ‘belief’ as short hand to say whether one person’s perception of something in the environment (the money in my bank

account) corresponds to the (probably correct) consensus from other people. Again easily within the PCT domain. I think that high level processes may or may not be involved.

So I have a strong hunch we don’t need to program ‘beliefs’ into PCT as they are implicitly within each of our perceptual hierachies already…



Richard S. Marken

"Perfection is achieved not when you have nothing more to add, but when you
have nothing left to take away.�
–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

[eetu pikkarainen 2017-01-16]

(Sorry, if this comes twice - I tried to send this four hours ago by mail. I
edited it and tey now again by the list archive.)

Bruce, very interesting point of view!

I agree with Warren that there is a "belief" built in to every single control
unit: it "believes" that that a possible error requires an output and that its
output will reduce the error. But I believe there is also something more to
say about this topic.

Belief (and believing) is a similar modal concept like truth which we need
especially when we or someone else have some reasons for suspicion or doubt. I
think that a simple control unit itself never feels doubtful. If it happens to
be wrong, it just dies away if reorganization does not save it.

So believing and doubting, if we understand them as those (probably more or
less verbal) phenomena which require one another, may require those higher
hierarchies, perhaps even something like a (self-)consciousness?

Anyway if we study a control system and that system “believes�? something which
we may doubt, then we cannot say that it knows that, but we must say that it
believes: it has a certain kind of belief about

Is belief a perception? Or is it rather a stance or attitude to perceptions,
missing of doubt? Unsuccesful controlling, like in Bruce's example of the
wrong car, can make us doubt our perceptions and make us double check things
before output? Failures could even make us doubt our self-efficacy (-
absolutely unrelated commet to the original article which I have not yet

I disagree that “want to believe�? were identical to “believe�?. They are (at
least partially) independent, as in your example Warren. You can want to
believe something which you do not believe. Even though a common and typical
situation is of course that we believe what we want to believe. It is hard but
possible to believe something we do not want to believe. If I want the case to
be X and I know it is not-X then I do not want to believe it (not-X) – but if
I know it is not-X, then I consequently have to believe so, too. (Knowing
implies believing.)

Also religious believing is interesting question. I would understand that a
believer controls a general and vague perception that “everything is as it
should be�?. Her output can be praying or some other ceremonies (even the
violent sacrifices). What is perhaps important to understand is that this
control really works well! If she would ever neglect her religious activities,
she would immediately or soon start to feel guilty and that “everything is not
as it should be�?. By praying or repentance she would draw her perception back
nearer to its reference.

(Warren, you do not want to believe that gods will really be angry because of
continuous neglecting of the message identifier?)