Steelman* your beliefs

The things we believe cost us when they are wrong.  Sometimes those costs are less than the cost of changing our mind, sometimes not.

When you believe something that has potential high costs if your belief is wrong, make sure you've exposed yourself to the absolute best arguments against it.  

Defeating weak arguments against your own beliefs cause us to feel disproportionately stronger about the basis for what you believe.

Costs of changing your beliefs can be emotional, psychological, social or financial.  Costs make it less likely that we'll be vigilant in our search for truth, so make sure your exposure to the opposing argument is extensive exposure to the best arguments.

Be especially wary of beliefs that make you feel good.  Be especially wary of beliefs that make you feel good!  Be especially wary of beliefs that make you feel good!!

Be wary of things you believe because of your identity.  When you believe something because you're American, or because you're a Democrat, or because you're a Catholic, or because you're a man, you're more likely to make mistakes.

Ask yourself where you'll find the best arguments for opposing beliefs.  

Are you likely to find them from others with the same beliefs as you?

Are you likely to find them from some guy on the street who happens to hold the opposing belief?  

Are you likely to find them on cable news?

If you believe in a god, have you looked for the absolute best arguments against the existence of a god, or have you merely heard the arguments of fellow believers?  Maybe you should do some research and find the best possible arguments from those who don't believe.

The same holds for if you don't believe in god.  Read some theology, Do some research.  Don't stop at the first website you find on Google.

What if you're a libertarian or conservative or liberal?  Have you read what the opposition has to say other than the headlines on TV?  Have you read the science on why people have the political leanings they do?

Of course, we all believe things that are wrong.  How much effort we should expend trying to prove our belief wrong is proportional to how much having the wrong belief costs us.

Are some sources likely to deliver better arguments because of a track record of continual progress towards true models of reality?  If so, that lessens the effort we have to expend to correct wrong beliefs which means we can correct more of our wrong beliefs.

Be careful in deciding if some sources are more likely to deliver better arguments.  The same biases that cause us to have wrong beliefs will also cause us to give more weight to sources that confirm what we already believe.

* To steelman an argument is the opposite of to strawman an argument.

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