Sunday, May 16, 2010

Faith is a Euphemism for Gambling

Qualia Soup and Theramin Trees said what I've taken to be the core of this idea pretty well in one of their videos.


Faith is equivalent to going to a casino, heading to a roulette table with an infinite number of numbers on the wheel, and betting on one based on a hunch. Probabilities are not considered, since one over an immeasurably large number is quite small. Books, relics, and so forth fill in the role of the "lucky" rabbit's foot.

The compulsive gamblers resent any effort to convince them to cut their losses. They even consider it a virtue to keep riding a losing streak, since they labor under the delusion that the laws of probability will bend to serve them and reward them for their stubbornness. This arrogance is encouraged to prevent change: Saying that you were wrong takes humility and courage. To a man of faith, these traits are signs of weakness. Humility cannot reside in a person who has delusions of perfection. To be humble is to acknowledge imperfection.

Science, on the other hand, is equivalent to getting a job at a stable company and doing hard, honest work in hopes of a paycheck. If the company goes bankrupt, you leave and apply for a job at a place that addresses the problems the previous one didn't.

Science plays for the best odds and knows there are no "sure things" in life: 99.9% odds means that there's a 0.1% chance you could be wrong. The fact that science-minded people know that they could be wrong means that they're willing to change if they find out they were mistaken. Humility is considered a strength because it acknowledges the need for change and improvement.

We all take on risks in this uncertain world. Science acknowledges our imperfections and works hard to minimize the dangers they pose. Science acknowledges that the universe is not limited to our self-serving imagination.

Faith is gambling on the "perfection" of your hunches. Faith is gambling on the arrogant belief that the universe is incapable of being beyond your imagination.

22 comments:

Dark Jaguar said...

I don't have anything to add to that video. It pretty much sums it up as well as I ever could.

Instead, I'll say that I'm shocked that the lesser form of it, the obsessed gambler thinking that the odds change over time the longer they stay in the game, is just never going to be convinced that that's NOT how statistics works.

I've not had to talk to someone about directly gambling in a casino, but even just the "gambles" of random chance in a video game are subject to this dillusion. I try again and again to explain as simply as possible, but they don't get it.

For example, I often hear this: "That critical hit was wasted! Why couldn't I get it when I really needed it?" Not just a joke, they honestly believe that by GETTING a low odds critical hit, they automatically depleted their "chance" and lowered the chances it would come up during a moment where it would be useful. I try to explain that that's not how statistics works, but they swear that it is, that "mathematically speaking, that is how it works".

It also extends to explaining that just because they managed to avoid getting that "winning roll" in the game 100 times in a row, their odds of getting it have not increased at all. I have tried the best way to explain it I could, that they can imagine that, BEFORE all those roles, yes it was unlikely, but after each failed roll, you have to DELETE that roll from the equation of how likely it is, since it's gone now, and so if you manage by chance to get to the end without hitting it, those all just happened, all you are left with is the odds of the last roll hitting it. Still, they insist on that delusional idea of how probability works.

Considering we aren't even talking about deeply held religious beliefs, but how chance in a game works, it really makes me worry about trying to explain how foolish Pascal's Wager is to the religious mind. I suppose that the human mind's intuition about how random chance works is very strong. Maybe it has something to do with avoiding danger, that sort of approximation was adequate when you're trying to decide how long is safe to stay outside in a storm before "the risk adds up" (a totally unsupported guess on my part), but whatever the case, human intuition on probability is pretty poor.

Bronze Dog said...

I remember one experience I had with Earthbound: Getting the Sword of Kings. There's a limited-time enemy who has a 1 in 128 chance of dropping it. I ended up having to kill about 300-400 to get it.

I know that "1 in 128" doesn't mean that defeating 128 will absolutely give you one. The odds of getting the sword on your first Starman are exactly the same as the odds of getting it on the 400th. There's no magic number that will guarantee success. More trials will just make it the whole exercise (not the odds of one particular trial) more likely to be successful.

Ryan W. said...

Poo's sword is a pain in the ass, but I got it just walking through the level once.

The pink tail in FFIV, however, still eludes me.

Dark Jaguar said...

Sounds like my attempt to get the Griffin Helm in Secret of Mana. It's the best helmet for the main character, but you only have one chance to get it, in Pure Land. Took a long time and a lot of chocolate, and yes it sure became a pain.

DM said...

you are not going to tell me what I believe...


we're going to play a NEW GAME...

FROM NOW ON:

*******************************************

EVERYTHING YOU SAY I WILL DOUBLE ON YOU...

*******************************************
Atheists,

you are going to learn even to TALK about GOD the way you do is going to cost you your lives...


the writing on the wall...



f*ck you very much!


THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!


see how we take a term and convert it into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION - THAT OF LIBERATION - not just merely harmless expression...

visit

http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm

Dark Jaguar said...

So what, you're saying you can't even tolerate the idea of us having an actual debate about god without tossing out threats? Lovely...

As for your link, you already said that, we already responded. Care to respond to that?

Ryan W. said...

So Dennis is threatening to kill us now?

Dennis,

you are going to learn even to TALK about THREATENING PEOPLE the way you do is going to cost you your anal virginity...

It's called "prison", Dennis, and we have evidence to support its existence. Say hi to the Tossed Salad Man.

Dunc said...

Guys, you've got more chance of getting a response from a spambot. In fact, I suspect DM is a spambot these days... And not a very sophisticated one at that. You're trying to argue with an automaton.

Bronze Dog said...

To be fair, he does sometimes give half-assed evasive responses.

Dunc said...

Does he? I don't think I've ever seen that... OK, maybe he isn't a spambot after all.

Tom Foss said...

ATHEISTS: you are educated stupid!

ATHEISM IS DEAD! CHECK OUT THIS DEPECHE MODE SONG!

FROM NOW ON:

***********************************

I AM RUBBER AND YOU ARE GLUE!!!
ANYTHING YOU SAY WILL BOUNCE OFF *ME* AND STICK TO *YOU*!!!!!

***********************************

Read my identical post on this other website:

http://goatse.cx

SOMEDAY YOU ALL WILL DIE AND MEAT THE FLAMING GOAT IN THE SKY, AND THEN WON'T YOU BE SORRY!!!!

Ryan W. said...

That's just awesome.

DM said...

******************************
They had become ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE AND OF GOD...
*******************************


you pushed too much and *CROSSED THE LINE*


and for the rest of you on this GOD FORSAKEN site...

degenerates (PZ) or children (HEMANT) - ATHEISTS!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRRg2tWGDSY


do you have anything to say, you STUPID LITTLE F*CKER?



Now let's listen to this *GENIUS*

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUB4j0n2UDU

how about I tell you, Mr. Shermer, EVERYTHING YOU THINK ABOUT THE WORLD is

*WRONG*
...
you cannot SILENCE ME... for the idiot called *


FROM NOW ON:

*******************************************

EVERYTHING YOU SAY I WILL DOUBLE ON YOU...

*******************************************
Atheists,

you are going to learn even to TALK about GOD the way you do is going to cost

you your lives...

the writing on the wall...

f*ck you very much!

THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!


http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sx7XNb3Q9Ek&feature=related

RUN, ATHEISTS, RUN!!!

DwellerinDarkness said...

Just for the sake of clarity - I'm a theist. Should I saunter, or . . .?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting that video Bronze Dog. It was excellent.




Sarah Pressman:)

Tom Foss said...

******************************
And I became HE-MAN, THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE UNIVERSE...
******************************


you puffed too much and now you're *ONE TOKE OVER THE LINE*

and the other so-called gods of our legends, AND ALL GODS THEY WERE...

mudbloods (HERMIONE) or children (GINNY) - WIZARDS!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUUZbgOPFLY

ask yourself: do I feel lucky, WELL DO YA P*NK?



And now for something completely *DIFFERENT*

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqosS6DBwhA

he takes off his prosthetic lips, and tells me, EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS *WRONG*
...
I have to put this on silent for a minute; the idiot called.

YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE:
*******************************************************
EVERYTHING I DO I DO IT FOR YOU...
*******************************************************
Wizards,

You are going to learn even to TALK about VOLDEMORT the way you do is going to

cause

Death Eaters to teleport to where you're hiding...

the writing on the wall...

h*re I sit, br*ken-hearted, came to sh*t but only f*rted

THE QUICKENING - HIGHLANDER 2!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frNgniO06Nc

DIE, BART, DIE!!!

King of Ferrets said...

Tom, those are made of win.

David said...

you have FORFEIT YOUR SOUL, shermer... you have become an object in the material world, as you WISHED...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUB4j0n2UDU&feature=player_embedded

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/7/11792994_ffaaee87fa.jpg

we're gonna smash that TV...

They had become ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE AND OF GOD...
you pushed too much and *CROSSED THE LINE*

degenerates (PZ) or children (HEMANT) - ATHEISTS!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRRg2tWGDSY

do you have anything to say, you STUPID LITTLE F*CKER?

Now let's listen to this *GENIUS*

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUB4j0n2UDU

how about I tell you, Mr. Shermer, EVERYTHING YOU THINK ABOUT THE WORLD is

*WRONG*

EVERYTHING YOU SAY I WILL DOUBLE ON YOU...

the writing on the wall...

f*ck you very much!

THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!

http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sx7XNb3Q9Ek&feature=related

RUN, ATHEISTS, RUN!!!

Bronze Dog said...

David, David, David. If you bothered to put forth the tiniest effort to understanding materialism, you'd know that we don't believe that we become a part of the material world: We believe that everything that does anything is material.j

"Supernatural" is a nonsense word people like you use to try to create a false separation. When something you believe in fails to perform as you predict, you try to label it "supernatural" in a desperate effort to excuse it from having any effect at all.

Since you're big on authority idolatry, how about this guy?

"To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart. At what age of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, this masked atheism, crept in, I do not know. But heresy it certainly is."

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, Aug. 15, 1820

At least I keep my online atheism showing.

Bronze Dog said...

And while we're at it, how about Einstein himself:

"I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls."

-Albert Einstein (The World as I See It, 1949)

Tom Foss said...

I will SWALLOW YOUR SOUL, raiden... you have become a mortal in the tournament world, as you FEARED...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myduYtVbM9E

http://www.freakinghugeurl.com/refer.php?count=4&url=VjFaV2IxVXdNVWhVYTFacFRURndUbFJYZUdGTlZsSklUbGQwYWxJd1ZqVlphMmhyV1ZaWmVGTnVaRmhXYXpCNFdrY3hUMlJHYTNwWGJYUk9ZbGhvTlZkV1drNU9WbHBJVTJ4b1UySnVRbTlWYlhCelZteGFkRmw2YkZGVlZEQTU=

we're gonna smash that TV...

You have become ENEMIES OF THE OUTWORLD AND OF GORO...
you uppercut too much and *EXPLODED HIS BONES*

disgraced ninjas (SUB-ZERO) or women (SONYA BLADE) - MORTALS!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce1ciAC864U


do you have anything to say, you POWERLESS LITTLE F*GHTER?


Now let's listen to this *SHAOLIN*

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMNH_XeeXFw

how about I tell you, Mr. Kang, EVERYTHING YOU THINK ABOUT OUTWORLD is

*WRONG*

EVERY MOVE YOU DO I WILL MIRROR BACK AT YOU...

the writing on the wall...

Toasty!

THE TOURNAMENT - MK3!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2McbQrH0qI0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PvSnokAvyw&feature=related

ROUND ONE, READY, FIGHT!!!

MWchase said...

Today... I have seen beauty. *sniff*

That was wonderful, Tom.

As to probability, I think we should apply the same logic that had people saying the LHC would destroy the earth:

"Well, we don't... really know, so it's fifty-fifty."

Intriguingly, applying this logic in the context of the video and expected value, gives an expected utility of zero for the afterlife. To reiterate: we can only hope to derive value from those things that submit to the application of reason.