A rational mind needs regular maintenance. One of the maintenance systems I employ is to remind myself of things I used to be sure about and later discovered to be untrue. I started a list organized by the approximate ages at which I realized my errors. A healthy rational mind needs regular doses of humility. (I might need more humility than most people.)

Here is the approximate age at which I stopped believing in different stuff.

Age 8

Santa Claus
Tooth Fairy
Easter Bunny

Age 11

Money isn't important for happiness


People are mostly rational
Unquestioned patriotism is a good thing
Any college is as good as any other
Memories are generally accurate
Looks don't matter
Wealth doesn't make you more attractive
Gay is a choice
Alcoholism is a choice


School reputation doesn't matter
History as taught in school is generally accurate
You can do anything you set your mind to
Flying saucers are visiting on a regular basis
Hard work is almost always rewarded
Some men don't enjoy porn
Individuals can pick good stocks if they do research
Management is a science


Food pyramid
Vitamin supplements are backed by science
Free will
Solving your problems can bring you lasting happiness

Age 50

Common sense exists (as opposed to experience)
Drink eight glasses of water a day
Exercising is a big help for losing weight
A calorie is a calorie
Don't swim soon after eating
Wash hands with hot water to kill germs
Marijuana is bad for adult health (Note: still probably bad for kids)
Stretching helps athletic performance
Humans are more likely to be real than artificial/software
Everyone will die
The government isn't controlled by big money
The stock market is mostly legitimate

You can probably suggest a few things to add to my list.


Link to my book: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.

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Jan 29, 2014
Your rational mind needs a better mechanic.

Here's what you said: ". . .things I used to be sure about and later discovered to be untrue."

Here's what a more rational person would have said: ". . .things I used to believe that I now either doubt or no longer believe."

Are you familliar with the word 'hubris?'

I would like to know how you discovered that God doesn't exist. Since that would require proving a negative, and thus be impossible, I doubt your statement carries with it the weight of scientific proof. But it sure does contain a lot of hubris.

I really like that you think that not everyone will die. Of course, if you had been looking around for the past 20,000 years or so, you would have noticed that there are very few 150-year olds among us. In fact, the evidence seems to strongly point in the opposite direction of your belief. Hubris again.

Of course, this could be another of your classic tricks: redefine the word to make your theory more believable. I suspect that you're defining 'alive' as having a computer simulation of yourself built.

Which is total BS, as you know. You have absolutely no desire to build such a simulation of yourself and then shuffle off this mortal coil.

Nor do I. Nor does any rational person.

I disagree that the purpose of your list is to give you humility. A more rational conclusion would be that it reinforces your hubris.

Of course, unlike you, I know I could be wrong. When AGW makes your list, I will humbly admit that this particular belief of mine was in error.
Jan 29, 2014
All of my skepticism can be summed up into three things I haven't believed in a long time.
1. There is such a thing as a 'reliable witness'
2. 'Historical accuracy' is a real thing.
3. Reality is not arbitrary.
Jan 29, 2014

[And "some men don't enjoy !$%*! is wrong? So a deaf and blind man will also enjoy !$%*! What about a mentally challenged man?]

You can ruin a good statement with too many dumbass qualifiers you know. Or, as Scott himself once said, 'Everything I say from now on includes, by default, the statement BOCTAOE'
Jan 29, 2014

The news media presents a fair and balanced picture of the world
The Republicans are more responsible with money than the Democrats
It doesnt really matter which party is in power
Ill be able to buy a robot slave and aircar in a few years
Advances in medecine mean I may never die
The claims of environmentalists are accurate
Jan 29, 2014
I am skeptical that there is anyone successful that doesn't believe in free will.
I'm generally convinced that anyone who says 'there is no free will' is just trying to convince others to agree with them on some unrelated topic.
Jan 29, 2014
Nice list. So if alcoholism is not a choice, it follows that being obese is not a choice and smoking is not a choice and being a heroin addict is not a choice. (I believe all of these are choices, and in fact I made a choice when I was around 10 to never use drugs and have never even tried a joint or a glass of beer or vine or a cigarette, but perhaps I am mistaken and I am in fact just wired from birth that way)

And "some men don't enjoy !$%*! is wrong? So a deaf and blind man will also enjoy !$%*! What about a mentally challenged man?

Some more to add:
People learn from history.
People always choose what is in their best interest.
Societies choose what is in their best interest.
Patriotism is a good thing.
Free market works.
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 29, 2014
Interesting that you stopped believing in God at 11 but still believed in some supernatural stuff (ghosts, reincarnation) until your 20s. Did it seem a contradiction at the time? And could you explain more about these?
*ALL men enjoy !$%*! I'll accept 99.9% but some people are uninterested in sex, aren't they? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asexuality)
*I find exercise really helps me lose weight, both in terms of calorie expenditure and appetite control. Why do you think it doesn't help?
Jan 29, 2014
And all kidding aside what makes you think management isnt a science? Management is the science of getting the best people and getting the most out of them while giving them the least you can get away with. It may be undeveloped (managers make bad hiring decisions all the time) but in what way is it not a science?

And yes, folks, I know, managers often deliberately make what seem like suboptimal hires. That doesnt invalidate my statement, it just means our idea of 'best people' isnt the same as managers idea.
Jan 29, 2014
Age 25
- Government spending is helpful
- Helping people is the primary goal of Democrats' spending plans
- If we would just be nicer to the Soviets, they'll stop making mischief

Age 45
- Republicans actually want to cut spending
- If you cut taxes, the government will eventually have to stop spending
- If we just get tougher on the Arabs, they'll stop making mischief

Something above for just about everyone to hate, I am sure.
Jan 29, 2014
What prompted your sudden halt of skepticism in you 60's & 70's? Is your old age making you gullible?
+23 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 29, 2014
Every vote counts,
It's not you it's me,...

Jan 29, 2014
It took you til age 50 to realize the government is mostly controlled by big money?
Jan 29, 2014
Have you ever tried Xanax for this? ...
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 29, 2014
What's your counter-example to "Everyone will die"?
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 29, 2014

...'nuff said
+29 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 29, 2014
Age 90: Possessions matter
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