QUESTION TEXT: Some statisticians claim that the surest way…
QUESTION TYPE: Flaw
CONCLUSION: The statisticians are wrong.
REASONING: Their plan would mean we would have fewer and fewer beliefs. But we need many beliefs to survive.
ANALYSIS: The argument assumes that the statisticians thought people should actually try their plan or that people could survive using their plans.
The statisticians didn’t say that. They just said their plan was “the surest way to increase the overall correctness” of one’s beliefs. The plan might kill you but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the best way to be sure your beliefs are correct.
- CORRECT. Likewise, I could say that the best way to get warm is to jump into a fire. You’ll be badly hurt, but that doesn’t change the fact that it would be very effective at making you warmer. The statisticians might be correct even though their idea will hurt you.
- The statisticians are very clear: accept no new beliefs.
- This is fine. But the statisticians would say that the surest way to make either set more correct would be to eliminate beliefs without adding any.
- The argument didn’t say we should accept beliefs that we know are false. The argument seemed to be saying that we should accept new beliefs that we think are true. If we only reject beliefs then eventually we won’t have enough.
- The argument didn’t say that beliefs have to be correct. But if one followed the statisticians’ plan then one would eventually get rid of all incorrect beliefs and be left with too small a number.
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