The Main Justification

is memory.

If experience is evidence, the main source of justification of these past events is our memory. Memory is a record of true propositions. It can be reliable, or not. But to remember something is to believe it to be true. And our memory serves as the path to all knowledge by way of this justification.

We are creatures of truth, and our memories serve as evidence of our past.

My memory has seemed to wane recently, and I’ve learned how dependent I was on it. When I lose justification about whether I said something or not, did something or not, I lose confidence. And if I don’t have internal justification with my memory, I seek external validation.

I’d be afraid to say something because I can’t remember whether I’ve already said it or not. I’d be scared to do something because I can’t remember if I’ve already done it or not. So I’d play a game of tact. I’d say it in a way that could be taken as my second time to say or do something.

Even facts that I know are based in memory. While my memory may not be the justification itself, it is the source of the justification. For example, I know that Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. But how do I know that? I read it online. How did they know it?

If knowledge is justified true belief, what is it without the justification?

So if knowledge is based on this justification, our memory, mine is waning. I still know the same things, yet I have less and less confidence in them. I keep trying to justify the justification: refusing to accept my memory. Instead I look for further evidence or justification of the memory that I do have. I basically don’t trust that what’s in my mind matches what’s in reality. And without the justification, my knowledge is just beliefs. True beliefs, but beliefs nonetheless.

Knowledge, Belief, and Fantasy

What is knowledge? It’s an awareness that something your head corresponds to reality. Of course, there may be justification needed to verify that what’s in your head does actually correspond with reality. Otherwise there is no way of verifying that the thing corresponds with reality. And if you don’t know that it corresponds with reality, it’s not knowledge.

But if your thought corresponds with reality, justified or not, it is true. Wait. If you believe that bigfoot exists [assuming he does] without reason to believe so, is it knowledge? It can’t be. There is no reason to think that the proposition, “Bigfoot exists” is true. You just believe that bigfoot exists.

The question becomes How do you know it’s true? Because it can only be knowledge if it’s true. The only way to know it’s true is justification. So the only way to verify that your belief that bigfoot exists is true is to have reason to believe that bigfoot exists in reality. Otherwise, it is not knowledge. It’s fantasy.

Confidence + Doubt = 1

Alternate title: Don’t Believe in Yourself

I’ve been trying to put together a post on confidence for several weeks now, but it never seemed complete. I think it was because I never identified its opposite: doubt.

So what is confidence? It’s belief about the certainty of something, based on truth. For instance, if you had never missed a free throw in your life, there would be no reason to believe that the next one you shoot wouldn’t go in. But after you miss one, you may start to doubt.

Confidence + Doubt = 1

Therefore, the higher your confidence in something, the lower your doubt. But the more often you perceive a negative outcome, the more you doubt, and the lower your confidence.

How can you be confident in something when you aren’t very good at it? Knowing exactly where you stand. If your confidence is based on truth, then your expectations of future outcomes would be correct. If I can only make 8 out of 10 free throws in practice, why would I expect more than that of myself in the game? There is no reason to doubt.

But if I slump in a game or in practice, I may start to lose confidence. Or doubt. And as my confidence weens, my doubt grows. 

So how do you overcome doubt and start to believe in yourself again? Practice. It’s the only way. There’s no reason to believe that you’re any better than you are right now. And practice is the only way to get better and to improve the chance of future positive outcomes. Therefore, as you see your stats improve in practice, you can start to expect more out of yourself in real games.

How does this impact my beliefs? If you have an honest view of where you stand and true self-confidence, you know that there is always going to be someone better than you, in any scenario. That should give you enough reason to doubt yourself in almost any situation. So how do you build confidence? Believe in something truer than yourself.

Start with the Bible. What’s true is always true. It doesn’t matter how many times you miss in a row, it’s still true. There’s no slump, no doubting. It doesn’t change, because it is the Truth. And you see, if all outcomes are true, confidence stays at 1. There is no room for doubt. So don’t believe in yourself. Believe in something bigger. 

My Quantum Life: Using Beliefs to Limit Outcomes

We’ve talked about how morals help us gain certainty about the future. They help us narrow our path and gain clarity.

If I look at my life as a set of infinite possible outcomes, how do I limit them? Morals for one. Beliefs for another. If I know what I believe, I can start to accurately predict future outcomes.

If you look at now, and where you think you’ll be in 24-hours, it’s helpful. Because of the last post, you probably won’t be divorced, or gay. You probably won’t be climbing Everest naked. But how do you know for sure? Because you know the logic that runs your mind. To make it to Mount Everest, you would have to make a series of decisions to get there. Decisions that you’ve never made before. And to make decisions that you’ve never made before, you need a reason. And it’s hard to imagine a change in logic drastic enough to take you from the beach to mount Everest in 24-hours.

If you dislike something, there are many fewer instances of it in your future. It’s pretty simple, if you dislike coffee, you have no reason to drink it. Unless you read an article that changes your mind about it. Or your doctor tells you that you should start drinking it.

How do we measure the importance of realities? Obviously, the decision of whether to eat breakfast or not is not as important as whether or not to run out in traffic.

The importance of the decision determines how much weight we give to it. It also determines how much stress we derive from it. The distance in quantum space of the two results [that you’re weighing] determines the level of stress over that decision. Our beliefs set our priorities which determines this stress. We can say that we value family above all else, but if the decisions we make don’t mirror that, it’s not true. 

We determine the value of one decision by weighing it against our priorities. When we look at future realities, to determine the probability we have to look at the decisions that got us to that point, and the weight of those decisions.

If scenarios involve changing your mind, your beliefs, or having a gun to your head, or having the President call to motivate you, that are exceedingly unlikely. If my current truth remains, the likelihood of these events is zero. Because they would involve changing that truth. 

If you’re spending your life in prison, there are no realities where you are free. Ok. There are a couple: you escape, the prison is destroyed, etc. There are some very slim possibilities, but not enough to base your life around. That’s why it’s so scary: all future realities involve you there. There is no reason to dream anymore, not about this life.

No one wants to go to prison. But there are infinite ways that you could go to prison today. If you believe in abiding by the law, you are more than likely safe. Unless the law changes or someone changes your mind about the law.

Here’s the trick: the only outcomes that are actually possible have decisions paths based on beliefs that are all true. If it takes one false to get to that point, it’s an impossibility. Therefore, our path is still infinite, but it’s infinitely narrower because of our beliefs. The more conditional our belief system, the more likely a true can become a false, and the path of potential realities widens.

The width of the path is based only on “both true” scenarios. For instance, whether to go to the grocery now or later. Neither is morally wrong, but you still must make a choice. That’s when your priorities come into play. While they are still based on what you believe, they are how we categorize and rank these “both true” scenarios. You set your priorities whether you believe it or not. So at this point you weigh your options based on your priorities.

So how does faith apply here? First, it gives us the guidance to have moral absolutes. It helps us to walk a straighter path. Second, you have to remember that there are literally infinite ways you could die today. That’s a scary thought. But if you believe that death is not the end, that it’s actually a gateway to a better life.

Therefore, we take the worst possible outcome and replace it with a positive one, a very positive one. Our beliefs hone our potential future into only scenarios that are all true. Our faith transforms the most negative outcomes into gains. If you take away death, the expected value of the system skyrockets. There is literally nothing left to fear.

The Purpose of Life

Is to figure out the purpose of life.

How do we do that? We learn to discern right from wrong, establish our truths. Form our beliefs. Write logic based on those beliefs. Develop behaviors based on that logic. Then we compare them with other people’s.

If your truth is different from my truth, how is it different? If I discern that one of your truths is more plausible than one of my truths, I believe you. I inherit your truth. I then form new beliefs based on your truths, write new logic, and develop new behaviors.

Continue this process until you feel like you have something to share. Share that something while continuing to refine your truths, explore new ideas, and write better logic.