Re: "friendly" humans?

From: Wei Dai (
Date: Fri Jan 02 2004 - 04:17:35 MST

On Thu, Jan 01, 2004 at 10:43:58PM -0500, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> Humans
> sometimes do appear to be credulous but in contexts that suggest a quite
> different cause, i.e., social sanctions for people who fail to believe in
> the locally popular religion. There is no sign that "Believe in X,
> because X implies you should have more children!" switches off people's
> brains the way "God commands it!" does.

If we evolved to be credulous because of social sanctions for people who
fail to believe in the locally popular religion, we would have a much
different pattern of credulity than we actually do. We would just be
credulous about the locally popular religion, and have a normal amount of
skepticism about everything else.

Instead, people are credulous about much more than religion. It seems to
be a general credulity rather than specific to any topic. For example,
consider people's beliefs about physics, economics, chemistry, biology,
etc., a few hundred years ago. They were so wrong about everything and yet
virtually no one saw any reason to doubt.

Also, the local popularity of a religion seems to have little to do with
how credulous we are to it. For example, people who move to a new
neighborhood with a different popular religion seldom convert because of
the move, and children of parents who follow a minority religion will tend
to keep the parents' religion rather than the locally popular one.

I've skipped the rest of your post because it seems to be based on a
misunderstanding that I hope I've cleared up in my previous reply. Let me
know if there's anything you still want to to respond to.

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