Mind Pro­jec­tion Fallacy

TagLast edit: 10 Apr 2023 13:34 UTC by qvalq

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 projection fallacy requires realizing that our minds are not transparent windows unto veridical reality; when you look at a rock, you experience not 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.

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