The Epistemic Rent is Too Damn Low!

We say all beliefs must pay rent. And i say, the rent is too damn low!

Anything that makes you feel good reduces your anticipation that you might feel bad – even absurd beliefs detached from reality pay rent by making you feel good. If I believe the spaghetti god will make me feel better when i pray to it, and this belief does make me feel good, then the belief pays rent!

So the real issue isn’t deadbeat beliefs. The real rule is not ‘make all your beliefs pay rent’, since anything that makes you feel good is paying rent, by reliably making you feel good.

No, the real questions are these:

How hard is your internal currency, and how high is your internal rent? Is your internal currency bitcoin? Or is it ‘ego loyalty tokens’ which are printed every time you tell yourself you’re better than someone else? And under what risk are you living? What does failure look like? If the answer is ‘death’, my goodness the rent is high and bad beliefs get the boot quickly. But if failure is ‘the pixels on the screen are the wrong color’, your rent is free and your mind is full of deadbeats you are still paying rent because they reduce your anticipation of the bad feelings that come from failure.

If you encounter extremely painful failure only rarely, then rent inside your head is basically free.

If you print money internally and just give it out, any belief that flatters your ego can collect enough and pay rent. All it has to do is tell you that you’re better than someone else, that you’re a good guy, that you’re on the right team.

Only a hard currency in your own head, which says “attention is extremely scarce and valuable” prevents you from just saying “this belief is good enough” and carrying around an incoherent bag of beliefs that make you feel better. Only repeated painful failures raise the rent high enough to kick out deadbeats.

You want a brain like an expensive city that is continually under siege from a foreign power.

You want a mind like Kyiv.

What you don’t want is a mind like a used car dealership, full of streaming flags, sound and fury, signifying nothing.

If you aren’t continually encountering painful failures, you aren’t learning or growing. You can’t be. You’re just adding more flags to a cracked asphalt parking lot full of rusted out cars, growing in value only because the global money printer goes BRRRRR, like an impotent machine gun spewing stagnant filth. Open wide!

This post was inspired by the wonderful post here.

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