Mind Pro­jec­tion Fallacy

TagLast edit: 1 Oct 2020 22:18 UTC by Ruby

The Mind Projection Fallacy is the error of projecting the properties of your own mind onto the external world. For example, one might erroneously think that because they enjoy the taste of chocolate, the chocolate has the inherent property of tastiness, and therefore everyone else must like its taste too.

Overcoming the mind project fallacy requires realizing that our minds are not transparent windows unto veridical reality; when you look at a rock, you experience not the the rock itself, but your mind’s representation of the rock, reconstructed from photons bouncing off its surface. Sugar in and of itself is not inherently sweet; the sugar itself only has the chemical properties that it does, which your brain interprets as sweet.


Physicist and Bayesian philosopher E.T. Jaynes coined the term mind projection fallacy to refer to this kind of failure to distinguish between epistemological claims (statements about belief, about your map, about what we can say about reality) and ontological claims (statements about reality, about the territory, about how things are). In particular, the concept was applied in the critique of frequentist interpretation of the notion of probability as a property of physical systems rather than an epistemic device concerned with levels of certainty, Bayesian probability.

Notable Posts

See Also

2-Place and 1-Place Words

Eliezer Yudkowsky27 Jun 2008 7:39 UTC
77 points
36 comments5 min readLW link

Mind Pro­jec­tion Fallacy

Eliezer Yudkowsky11 Mar 2008 0:29 UTC
58 points
90 comments2 min readLW link

Ex­am­ples of the Mind Pro­jec­tion Fal­lacy?

fiddlemath13 Dec 2011 15:27 UTC
19 points
35 comments1 min readLW link

Prob­a­bil­ity is in the Mind

Eliezer Yudkowsky12 Mar 2008 4:08 UTC
103 points
193 comments6 min readLW link

A List of Nuances

abramdemski10 Nov 2014 5:02 UTC
61 points
24 comments14 min readLW link

Vanilla and choco­late and prefer­ence judgements

Swimmer96318 Apr 2011 22:14 UTC
39 points
32 comments6 min readLW link

Mys­te­ri­ous An­swers to Mys­te­ri­ous Questions

Eliezer Yudkowsky25 Aug 2007 22:27 UTC
129 points
157 comments4 min readLW link

The Use­ful Idea of Truth

Eliezer Yudkowsky2 Oct 2012 18:16 UTC
136 points
539 comments12 min readLW link

The Curse Of The Counterfactual

pjeby1 Nov 2019 18:34 UTC
98 points
32 comments19 min readLW link2 nominations1 review

The Re­la­tion Pro­jec­tion Fal­lacy and the pur­pose of life

Academian28 Dec 2012 4:14 UTC
113 points
42 comments3 min readLW link

Chaotic Inversion

Eliezer Yudkowsky29 Nov 2008 10:57 UTC
75 points
67 comments1 min readLW link

De­tached Lever Fallacy

Eliezer Yudkowsky31 Jul 2008 18:57 UTC
50 points
40 comments7 min readLW link

Three Fal­la­cies of Teleology

Eliezer Yudkowsky25 Aug 2008 22:27 UTC
36 points
16 comments9 min readLW link

Ar­tifi­cial Mys­te­ri­ous Intelligence

Eliezer Yudkowsky7 Dec 2008 20:05 UTC
23 points
24 comments5 min readLW link

Hope Function

gwern1 Jul 2012 15:40 UTC
38 points
8 comments1 min readLW link
No comments.