Jef Allbright wrote:

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

Jef Allbright writes:

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

But our main criterion for what to believe should be
what is true, right?

I'm very interested in whether the apparent tautology
is my misunderstanding, his transparent belief, a simple
lack of precision, or something more.

Thanks for the compliments about my writing. I meant that what we should believe does not necessarily have to be the same as what is true, but I think that unless there are special circumstances, it ought to be the case.

I agree within the context you intended.  My point was that we can never
be certain of truth, so we should be careful in our speech and thinking
not to imply that such truth is even available to us for the kind of
comparisons being discussed here.  We can know that some patterns of
action work better than others, but the only "truth" we can assess is
always within a specific context.

Brent Meeker made a similar point: if someone is dying of a terminal illness, maybe it is better that he believe he has longer to live than the medical evidence suggests, but that would have to be an example of special circumstances.

There are plenty of examples of self-deception providing benefits within
the scope of the individual, and leading to increasingly effective
models of "reality for the group.  Here's a recent article on this

I read recently that almost everyone overestimates their abilities.  The people 
who most accurately assess themselves are the clinically depressed.

Brent Meeker
"I consider myself an average man, except for the fact that I consider myself an 
average man."
        --- Michel de Montaigne

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