Re: virus: Definition of Belief

ken sartor (
Tue, 16 Apr 1996 16:40:54 -0500

At 03:22 PM 4/16/96 -0400, Reed Konsler wrote:

>I would argue that if an inidividual exibits no observable behavior then that
>individual cannot be said to believe. One can say "I believe in Martians" and
>then people in earshot may infer this is so. One can think to oneself "I
>believe in Martians" and know this is so.

Many beliefs have no observable behaviors. They may or may not have
actions associated with them (such as thinking). If you doubt the
first assertion, consider your own self carefully (maybe i am unique).
The second assertion is based on implicit beliefs and much more difficult
to defend or 'believe' ;-)

>However, the theoretical person that "believes X" but never exibit's a single
>behavior that is observable is like Shrodinger's cat. Once this person has
>died there is no evidence of the belief, and thus one may conclude it never
>existed; even as one can conclude that God (and Martians) don't exist because
>there is insufficient evidence.

Shrodinger's cat refers to mixed states of existence. When observed,
the mixed state collapses into a single state (with the appropriate
probabilities). Perhaps this is relevant to beliefs? For instance,
without thought i half believe there is life on mars and i half
disbelieve. When confronted, my belief collapses into a pure state?
(I don't believe this to be true; mixed states of belief seem to
be able to exist simultaneously in humans...)

I am unsure what difference it makes as to whether of not evidence of
a belief exists. If this is true, does it mean the 'beliefs' of
our ancestors that were lost to history were not *real*
beliefs? If there is no way _ever_ to recapture the unstored events
of history, should we conclude that they do not exist or just conclude
that they are unknowable?