Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the overall correctness of the total set of one's beliefs is...

Budd on July 11, 2020

Explanation Please

Can we get an explanation of this question?

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Shunhe on July 13, 2020

Hi @bb042745,

Thanks for the question! This is a pretty complicated question, so let’s walk through it. We’re basically given a theory of how to increase the overall correctness of the total set of your beliefs. Don’t change it, unless you reject a belief when there’s enough evidence against it.

So let’s say you hold beliefs A, B, and C. And a “belief” here might be something like “the earth is flat” or “gravity exists” or “pineapple pizza is good.” Now, according to this theory, you always keep beliefs A, B, and C. And you only alter your beliefs in one way: let’s say there’s now proof that the earth isn’t flat. Well, now you get rid of whatever belief that is. So say that’s belief A. Now you’re just left with beliefs B and C.

So now the author is commenting on this system. The author says if this were the only true, then whenever you were presented with evidence, you’d have to keep your beliefs the same or reject some beliefs (as shown above). But, the author says, you could only have fewer beliefs as time goes on (which makes sense, since you can never add any). And since we need many beliefs in order to survive, the statisticians’ claim must be mistaken.

OK, well what was the statisticians’ original claim? It was just that this way of dealing with your belief set would increase the overall correctness of that belief set. Nothing about survival. So either the author is making some kind of weird connection between surviving and increasing total correctness of your total set of beliefs, or the author is saying the statistician is saying something they’re not. And this is what (A) gets at. The author just assumes that there’s a link between increasing overall correctness of total set of beliefs and one’s ability to survive, when it’s unclear at all that this connection exists. And this is the correct answer choice, the flaw in the argument.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any other questions that you might have.