Theory

Ontological Dualism in a Nutshell

  • We live in two overlapping realities:
    1. Alpha reality – The objective world of matter and energy and its effects.  The sun warms us.  Rocks that fall on our heads hurt us.
    2. Beta reality – The world of beliefs and their effects.  Whether objectively true or not, our personal beliefs and those upon which our social systems are based also have powerful effects, determining everything from our self-images to our social status and how much money people give us.
  • Beliefs are mental representations of the alpha world, and vary in their accuracy.  We use cognitive heuristics – thinking shortcuts refined by evolution – that are remarkably efficient at extracting what we need to know from the great volume of data continuously provided by our senses.  But that efficiency is purchased at the price of mental biases and reasoning errors that make us get some things wrong.  Those biases and errors account for the differences between alpha facts and beta facts.

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  • The same process that causes stock market corrections keeps all our beliefs from straying too far from objective facts.  Beliefs that are discrepant with alpha reality are vulnerable to being pulled in the direction of their alpha values through this mechanism.  The correction is a learning feedback loop that keeps beta reality in loose alignment with alpha reality.
  • Four factors determine a belief’s vulnerability to correction:
    1. Veridicality: The larger the gap between a belief and objective reality, the more likely it is to be corrected.
    2. Falsifiability: The more readily that consensual means are available to disprove it, the more likely a false belief is to be corrected.
    3. Accretion: The more recordings there are of a false belief, the less likely it is to be corrected.
    4. Utility: The more useful a false belief is, the less likely it is to be corrected.

That’s Ontological Dualism, or more informally, “Two Realities,” in a nutshell.  For a more detailed explanation, continue to Foundations of Subjective Reality.

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