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In situations that matter, mythologies are immensely powerful things, and sometimes we humans go to enormous lengths to see the world as we think it should be, even when the evidence says we are mistaken.

from A Different Universe by R. Laughlin

The Consistency Principle

People who bet on horses increase their estimation of a horse's chance of winning after they have placed bet on it. The horse, of course, hasn't changed. Only their estimation of their winning chances. They act as if the chances changed simply because they placed their faith and money in the horse.

Exactly the same thing happens in physics. People bet on theories like supersymmetry or inflation. The only difference is that the stake is the highest possible: time. After people committed to work on these theories, they will do everything they can to stay consistent with this choice. This is what leads to propaganda in physics.

The consistency principle states that people are motivated toward cognitive consistency and will change their attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and actions to achieve it.

Mind Projection Fallacy


What happens in the real world depends on physical law and is on the level of ontology. What we can predict depends on our state of knowledge and is necessarily on the level of epistemology. He who confuses reality with his knowledge of reality generates needless arti cial mysteries.

Clearing up Mysteries — The Original Goal by E. T. Jaynes

Arguments From Authority

A technical argument by a trusted author, which is hard to check and looks similar to arguments known to be correct, is hardly ever checked in detail.

Vladimir Voevodsky

The problem with experts is that they do not know what they do not know

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

There is no authority who decides what is a good idea.

Richard Feynman

What I tell you three times is true

Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark

Arguments From History

That's the difficulty with the history, especially in physics. You can choose episodes from history to illustrate any polemical point you would like to make. And we never know at any time which lesson we should take. Sometimes even lessons we never learned before.

Arkani-Hamed in his talk “Where in the World are SUSY and WIMPS?

Further Reading


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causes/fallacies.txt · Last modified: 2017/11/06 06:25 (external edit)