Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences): Exercises

The fol­low­ing is a se­ries of ex­er­cises de­signed to test one’s un­der­stand­ing of “Mak­ing Beliefs Pay Rent (in An­ti­ci­pated Ex­pe­riences)”, a post in the Mys­te­ri­ous An­swers to Mys­te­ri­ous Ques­tions se­quence by Eliezer Yud­kowsky.

A. Ex­am­ine the fol­low­ing list of state­ments. For each state­ment, ask: What ob­ser­va­tions would you ex­pect to make if this state­ment were true that you would not ex­pect to make if this state­ment were false, or vice-versa? If no such ob­ser­va­tions ex­ist, in­di­cate that this is so.

  1. Bis­marck is the cap­i­tal of North Dakota.

  2. The uni­verse does not ex­ist; all ex­is­tence is imag­i­nary.

  3. The earth is flat.

  4. The comic book Queen & Coun­try is based on the Bri­tish ITV se­ries The Sand­bag­gers.

  5. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eter­nal Golden Braid by Dou­glas Hofs­tadter is a good book.

  6. “A Visit from St. Ni­cholas” (a.k.a. “Twas the Night Be­fore Christ­mas”) was writ­ten by Cle­ment Clarke Moore.

  7. Her­bert Hoover was left-handed.

B. In the Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip song “Thou Shalt Always Kill”, one of the in­junc­tions given to the listener is, “Thou shalt not put mu­si­ci­ans and record­ing artists on ridicu­lous pedestals no mat­ter how great they are or were.” After this state­ment comes a list of such bands, be­gin­ning, “The Bea­tles: Were just a band. Led Zep­pelin: Just a band. The Beach Boys: Just a band.” Con­sider just this first state­ment, that the Bea­tles were just a band. What does it im­ply in terms of an­ti­ci­pated ex­pe­riences?

The au­thor’s re­marks on the solu­tions to these ques­tions ap­pear in this com­ment.