Too Much Effort | Too Little Evidence

I would like to ex­plore cer­tain kinds of ex­pe­ri­en­tial knowl­edge that ap­pear to me to be difficult to in­ves­ti­gate ra­tio­nally as the ra­tio­nal at­ti­tude it­self might be the cause of a re­luc­tance to ex­plore. If this is already cov­ered in one of the ar­ti­cles on the site please re­fer me to it.

In this thought ex­per­i­ment we will use the ex­am­ple of lu­cid dream­ing. Lu­cid dream­ing is a state in which a per­son re­al­ises they are dream­ing while they are dream­ing. The sub­tleties of the state are not rele­vant to this dis­cus­sion.

Cir­cum­stances

[1] We will as­sume the ex­per­i­ment takes place at a time where the ex­is­tence of the ex­pe­rience of lu­cid dream­ing hasn’t been sci­en­tifi­cally proven yet. We will also as­sume that a proof is not pos­si­ble in the cur­rent state of tech­nolog­i­cal or method­olog­i­cal de­vel­op­ment.
[2] Per­son A has a (true) be­lief on the ex­is­tence of lu­cid dream­ing that is based on his per­sonal ex­pe­rience of the state.
[3] He is try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate the ex­is­tence of lu­cid dream­ing to some­one else. Let us call him per­son B.
[4] Ac­tu­ally be­com­ing lu­cid in a dream is quite a com­plex pro­cess that re­quires among other things1:
[4.1] Ex­pend­ing large amounts of effort.
[4.2] Fol­low­ing guidelines and ex­er­cises that ap­pear strange.
[4.3] A time in­vest­ment of sig­nifi­cant length.

In the de­scribed cir­cum­stances we have an in­ter­nal ex­pe­rience that has not be sci­en­tifi­cally proven but is nev­er­the­less true. We know this in our time through sci­en­tific stud­ies but B does not know it in his world. Per­son B would have to ac­tu­ally be­lieve in the ex­is­tence of lu­cid dream­ing and trust A to guide him through the pro­cess. But since there is no suffi­cient ev­i­dence to sup­port the claim of A, the re­quired effort is sig­nifi­cantly large and the meth­ods ap­pear strange to those not un­der­stand­ing the state how can B ra­tio­nally de­cide to ex­pend the effort?

Pro­posed Conclusion

[5] Peo­ple fo­cus­ing on ra­tio­nal as­sess­ment can be mis­lead when deal­ing with ex­pe­ri­en­tial knowl­edge that is not yet sci­en­tifi­cally proven, is not eas­ily testable and has no ob­vi­ous ex­ter­nal func­tion but is, nev­er­the­less, ex­pe­ri­en­tially ac­cessible.


1 Even if you dis­agree with the level of difficulty or the steps re­quired please ac­cept [4] and its sub-head­ings as be­ing ac­cu­rate for the du­ra­tion of the ar­gu­ment.