Confidence and Humility

In Damon Culture (that is to say, a culture made up of people where my traits are the expected ones of the average person, if not quite a culture made of my literal clones), how confidently someone states their beliefs is ideally NEVER influenced by how confident people around them are. Only by how confident they themselves feel about the issue.

The second may seem a natural outgrowth of the first, given how people feel about issues is often affected by others’ confidence. But the distinction is actually very, very important.

I’ve taken other people’s hedging as a REMINDER to check in with my own sense of confidence. I’ve also noticed new uncertainties when people I trust confidently say things I don’t believe.

But I never speak less confidently about something just because someone around me is doing so… particularly if they’re saying something I believe is false! If anything, someone else hedging around a statement I find false is a time I tend to feel MORE encouraged to say things overconfidently, and I have to remind myself to check-in with how-I-would-phrase-the-thing-I-believe-independent-of-what-they-said.

Because… that’s what confidence is FOR, in Damon Culture. It’s a signal for your own state of belief. Anything else seems like deception, one way or another, or playing social games out of fear.

(Also jokes, but that’s a particular context in which it’s often very clear, and clarified shortly afterward)

And fear may well be why it’s a thing people feel inclined to do! It seems reasonable in a society/culture that conditions people (particularly people of certain genders) to sound less “arrogant” or “bossy,” and where people with power will punish those who’ve pricked their pride. It’s also reasonable to think “I need to be careful in how forcefully I say this so as not to make this person defensive” in certain contexts.

Generally though, if someone, particularly in the rationality community, docks someone points for being confident, *independent of being incorrect,* they are very clearly Doing It Wrong, in my eyes, just as much as people who dismiss anything someone says with epistemic humility.

From the perspective of “What does Damon believe an ideal community would do,” adjusting to someone else’s apparent humility is a sign that something went wrong, either in the person’s understanding of epistemic humility or in their trust in the people around them to understand how to interpret their confidence (acknowledging that this lack of trust may be justified, in non-Damon Culture).