What is the most absurd claim you believe?

Bryan Caplan says my most absurd view is philosophic pragmatism.  I say Robin Hanson’s most absurd view is to overestimate the chance we all become uploads in the next century.  I am not sure Alex has a most absurd view, except perhaps his notion of what my most absurd view is (hint: "one in twenty").

What is your most absurd view?  Comments are open.  Yes your comment should be crazy but serious too.  It should refer to a view which you actually hold, but many other smart people consider untenable and bizarre.


I am in favor of the end of the Offside Rule in Football (soccer).

Oh, and that John Searle is substantially correct on all his important claims about the possibility of Turing Machines having intelligence.

That what we perceive to be the Universe and everything that's in it is really a simulation on a computer.

Obviously, it's inconsistent with dsquared's second crazy belief, but what experiment can we perform to disprove that hypothesis?

My only capitulation to superstition? I "knock on wood". Self-deception at its finest. I know it does nothing, but can't help myself during instances where "knocking on wood" should prevent an undesired (spoken) event from coming true. I will even go slightly out of my way to locate a piece of wood on which to knock. Thankfully, this is an infrequent practice.

I believe that, at times, our (current) mind receives information from our future mind ---yes, call it precognition. We interpret this input as (artictic or scientific) "creativity", knowing nothing about how to distinguish between deterministic creativity and precognition.

[If you're curious about the (crazy) physics behind this, click on the link under my name.]

There is a case to make about Robin Hanson circa 1988 receiving information from his own future mind (circa, say, November 2004) about political prediction markets and other societally important applications of related micro-market mechanisms.

As for his belief in (head) cryogenics and mind uploads (into computers), I read somewhere that he said there's only a 5% probability that it will work on him. Seems a *reasonable* over-estimation.

Kids have an incredible capacity for learning. If all children received talented instruction starting at a young age, then everyone's intellectual potential would be essentially unlimited.

I'm not superstitious, because it brings bad luck.

I believe that left-wing politicians should be paid the minimum wage to show their solidarity with the poor.


We Scorpios don't believe in that Astrology stuff !


PK: Why just the left-wing ones? Put all the bastards on minimum wage.

Oh, and another thing: I also believe we're approaching a new form of economy (within 100-200 years give or take) which will neither resemble capitalism nor socialism.

P = NP

[That what we perceive to be the Universe and everything that's in it is really a simulation on a computer.]

You don't really believe this. (by which I mean, if it's true, then you don't really believe it, there's just a computer simulating you believing it).

I think the right to keep and bear arms will eventually be accepted throug
the world as the best way to prevent genocide.

There are some things which are just plain wrong.

I have a suspicion that if there is a heaven, it is something like the notion of a collective unconscious.

P.S. I also agree with SamChevre and LIC re: arming citizens to prevent crime and genocide.

That the whole "Dark Matter" idea was invented by scientists to explain data that they did not understand. I feel that it will eventually lose favor like the idea of the "ether" in past centuries.

And, that the NCAA basketball tournament does not necessarily determine the best college basketball team. Random chance could lead any team to lose one game, including the "best" team. This is not fair to that "best" team.

Eventually, embassies/consulates will expand into mini-colonies/franchises on another country´s territory. Although without complete legal autonomy (no asylum seekers nor criminals on the run), these plots of land will be under the judicial, tax, and political system of the foreign land. For example, someone living and working in the "U.S.A." 100-square-mile enclave/franchise near Paris will be able to reap the tax advantages of living in the U.S. while also enjoying Paris. This "neo-colonization" will lead to exponentially expanded freedom of choice and thus diffusion of "superior" forms of culture (as chosen by the citizens of each country), greater efficiency in capital flows, and multiple incentives against war and toward free-market cooperation. Or, at least that would be the potential :).

Absurd beliefs? I have at least three.

* That current cryonics patients will be revived in the next 100 years (and that if I were to die and be cryopreserved, I personally would be revived) (1)

* That as many people will live on seasteads as on land in the next 150 years. (2)

* That formal mechanisms for secession are as important to good government as freedom of speech and the right to vote. (3)

(1) http://www.alcor.org/
(2) http://www.seastead.org/
(3) http://www.secession.net/

That if all illegal recreational drugs were legalized in America, it would make little or no difference in rates of addiction or rates at which teen-agers experiment with drugs.

That if all drugs, legal and illegal, medical or recreational or whatever, were available over-the-counter, the general health of the American population would improve, drug prices would fall, and pharmaceutical innovation would skyrocket. Some foolish individuals would suffer due to their lack of judgment, but most people would benefit.

I agree with Hamilton--public justice is a backup to private vengeance, not a substitute (and certainly not a superior alternative).

Any intelligent species capable of interstellar travel will be peaceful and inquisitive with no humanly unethical motives.

Most people I talk to think I'm an idiot for being against seatbelt laws. In general, most people don't understand why I seemingly value freedom for freedom's sake. If something is good to do, they think, why not pass a law mandating that action?

Also, my belief that the best response to global warming may be to plan for it's consequences rather than attempt to stop the warming is often met with wide-open jaws.

Anderson at 10:42 wins, in a sense. 'Credo quia absurdum est' wasn't just whistling Dixie.

I'm going to get myself in trouble, because why digress on such an interesting topic, but contrary to DK, evolution poses serious threats to Christianity and rightly so. Original Sin, and the moral culpability of man through Adam is in contrast to the materialism of evolution. Either the entire universe in groaning under the weight of man's sin, or it is not.

Additionally, Christ himself preached on "from the beginning," he also treated Noah as a real legitimate person who came and through him the world was saved from the flood. Undermine those, and we are left wondering what has God created. Did he really create a world of death, pain, and suffering and call it good? Or did he create a world apart from that, and man's rebellion led to death. One allows Christianity the theological consistency it needs to be immensely appealing, the other, cause Christianity to be weighed down with doubts about God's true goodness, and nature.

How creationism should be heretical is beyond me. If God says he created the world a certain way, should I not believe him. In words he probably wrote himself closing with "These are the generations of Heaven and Earth."

I believe that everything is happening right now. Time, the way see it does not exist.

Telling children that they can be whatever they want to be is bad advice.

How can you self-identify an absurd view? If you truly thought it was absurd, you would abandon it. This is why Tyler's post is phrased as it is, "Bryan Caplan thinks my most absurd view is.. I think Robin Hanson's most absurd view is..."

So this question isn't really asking which if your views is oddest or most contrarian. Really you're asking what view do you think you think the evidence suggests one probability of truth (either very small or very high), you think they are wrong, but you can see why they might intelligently hold their position - but you just know better. For instance, just because many people believe Jesus rose from the dead and lives eternally doesn't at all indicate that I'd say my atheism is an absurd view. Now let's assume I am abducted by aliens, several times, of the course of 15 years and they do experiments on me, and I have very vivid memories of that happening. I might then say my most absurd view is that there is a high probability that aliens exist and are experimenting on humans. Clearly all evidence available now to me and everyone suggests this isn't true, but I have vivid, real, lasting memories of the abduction, of flying through space to their homeworld.

But really, I don't have any such experiences. So I can say that I hold no absurd views. I'm sure Tyler doesn't think philosophical pragmatism is absurd. If I thought they were absurd I would abandon them. What someone else thinks my most absurd view is, that's a different question entirely. I'm sure my father would say my most absurd view is that there is no God. Many would say that my belief that government hurts far more than it helps is my most absurd view. A friend thinks my most absurd view is that the benefits of weight training and eating with regard to nutrition outweigh the costs.

A more interesting question, perhaps, is this: What do you think the most absurd view is of the smartest people you know? The most absurd view of the people you are most likely to agree with? What do they think your most absurd view is? Why is there such disagreement? Robin would probably have a good self-deception answer to that. Certainly the least wild of his "14 wild ideas" is that contention that if even only a few of us sought truth, we would not disagree with each other.

I have to chime in on the side of the immortals. I believe that I am a member of either the first generation to live forever, or the last to die.

OTOH, In the view of my friends and family, my most absurd belief may very well be my atheism.

Okay, Tyler said comments should be serious. So I'll offer that 1) anarcho-capitalism sounds great in theory, but we already have it in practice, 2) free banking sounds great in theory, but we already have it in practice, and 3) what we have in practice is as great as people think it should be in theory.

That, and Steve Martin should have died peacefully in his sleep after making Roxanne, his life's work complete.

That praxeology is superior to empiricism.

I have 2. 1) That probabilities come in quanta (i.e. there is a smallest possible probability like a some quarks have the smallest possible electirc charge). 2) That one day we'll finally realize that human survival depends on the colonization of other planets and star systems, but by that time we will have used too much of our "fuel" to get us to another star system.

(reading back over) Oh, we're allowed to say crazy stuff so long as it's serious? Oh, well, in that case...

I believe that if such a thing as real artificial sentience ever comes into being, that we as a society and its engineers as its engenderers need to raise, treat, and love individuals possessing it just like any others of our children.

Northwestern will make it back to the Rose Bowl before I die, which is how I rationalized not going in 1996.

That a 1965 Dream Team starting Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and Oscar Robertson with some bench guys like Willis Reed, Sam Jones, Gus Johnson, Jerry Lucas, and Hal Greer could have held their own against the 1992 Dream Team.

Psychiatry is in no way valid medicine, indeed not even valid science, and has done far more harm than good over the history of humanity.

Noah, didn't I see you on the Today Show? But you were shorter than I expected.

I believe that consciousness is primary reality not a derived phenomenon, everything else we see is the contents of Consciousness.


It is reasonable to me that you are correct, but I suspect that your viewpoint is widely held (i.e., others do not view your (4) as absurd). I've posted mine because I didn't expect anybody to agree with it. That somebody does makes me a little suspicious... is it not absurd enough? I thought it would be.

Be well,


The Quick and the Dead was a great movie. Reign of Fire is also a great movie. The twist at the end of The Sixth Sense was just okay and was the best part of an otherwise weak movie (although better than what I could do). Out of the last four films by Shymalan, Unbreakable and The Village were definitely the strongest, followed by the decent Signs, followed by the not so great The Sixth Sense. The first season of Lost was much better than the fourth season of 24.

One more, maybe more absurd than my first: That Ishtar is actually a pretty funny movie.

In 200 years, man will have walked on Earth, the Moon, Mars and its moons...and that's it.

Math is somehow not as timeless and unattached to human contingency as it's lauded to be.

That consciousness is fundamentally inexplicable.

- Josh

When things go the way I expect them to, I spend a few seconds convinced that I'm psychic.

Noah, didn't I see you on the Today Show? But you were shorter than I expected.

Anderson, it is a great tragedy that the great scam known as Scientology chooses to present as its public face enmity with the great scam known as Psychiatry. I assure you that the Szasz view of Psychiatry owes nothing to the vile intellectual offspring of L. Ron Hubbard.

I believe cultural change has been slowing down, not accelerating, and that life in a century or two will not differ greatly from the way it is now in developed countries.

Using the definition of things I truly believe but many smart people dismiss as "absurd"

1) That life is explicitly meaningless, or more generally, life is what you make of it, and that we're not here as some sort of well-planned divine purpose nor are we players in some large intergalactic conspiracy etc.

2) That Noah didn't build an arc that held a pair of every living creature inside it while the entire world flooded.

3) That the Olsen twins and Linday Lohen are not that hot...for chrissake, eat something.

That physicists have it all wrong. They think that space and time are two aspects of the same thing. And they think that matter and energy are two forms of the same thing.

I think that all four of these elements are aspects of the same thing. Subatomic particles don't move faster than planets; they are just so small and low in mass that they exist at the other end of the time scale.

(Plus, you know I'm crazy 'cause, like David, I liked Ishtar, too).

Natural selection for reproductive fitness is an insufficient mechanism to account for the capacity to do mathematics.

At least as a default position, everything should be unregulated. In policy deicisions, the burden of proof should fall on those who wish to impose new regulations.

Political leanings are an extention of personality traits that are mostly established by the time a person turns five.

Natural selection for reproductive fitness is an insufficient mechanism to account for the capacity to do mathematics.

I think natural selection explains it. I suspect our big brain developed as part of the pressure to capture food by throwing things. Running down a quarry and throwing a stick or rock at it requires a tremendous increase in cognitive ability, not the least of which is a capacity for making predictions.

Natural selection didn't produce a brain so that it could do math. It produced a brain that could imagine a future set of conditions, on which we could then act (in order to achieve them).

Once this set of pressures, in effect, paid for the added brain capacity, it ended up being used for other purposes.

That both children (of any age) and felons (even while incarcerated) should be allowed to vote.

Ex-vitro birth (ie, human gestation in some sort of mechanical artifice outside the womb) and its effects will become a major factor in world politics in the next 20 or 30 years. The country most likely to try this sort of thing initially would be Japan, followed by Russia...

Top 5:

5. That Government regulation of markets is necessary in some cases.

4. That some things can actually be known about the past.

3. That miracles are possible.

2. That Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on a Roman cross at the hands of Pilate, fufilling his own foretelling of his death for the sins of the world.

1. That Jesus of Nazareth was resurrected into a spiritual body and is presently in this form, awaiting his return to make the world right.

The earliest Christians did not believe that the Christ had recently been born on (or had visited) earth; rather they believed, among other things, that man's salvation was attained through a sacrifice he performed in heaven. (Much evidence for this can be found merely by carefully reading the New Testament book of Hebrews, on its own terms -- without automatically assuming that it agrees with the gospels or other New Testament books.)

Also, the book of Revelations tells what the author thought would occur around the time of Jesus's future first coming to Earth. (It is not until the second century that any Christian writings refer to his coming as a second coming or a return.)

Citing more evidence is beyond the scope of this comment. But you can visit: The Jesus Puzzle

Commendations on Eddie's interesting point on anarcho-capitalism. I'm hold such a mess of views that are generally believed to be absurd that certainly no one of them outweighs all the others so my most absurd view must be that I am generally right when I dissent from consensus beliefs. Elaboration on this view includes the ludicrous delusion that I am trying to reach accurate beliefs and that essentially no-one else is. Supporting delusions include the belief that I in fact *have* a small pool of people with whom I consistantly agree regarding facts without a cult-like dynamic being in effect.
The view that I hold in the face of the most intelligent opposition is probably that one should not aggregate the utilities associated with entities associated with identical qualia, as the utilities actually derive from the qualia's information content and thus duplication is simply redundant reference to a single phenomenon. This appearently sacrifices ethics (and norms in general) in the case of an infinite universe, but so many philosophical positions appearently sacrifice normitivity that it's hard to worry about one more doing so.

String theory, gravitons, magnetic monopoles, nanotechnological universal assemblers, fusion power, space elevators, agricultural subsidies, the university system, and democracy are deal ends.

Oh yeah and that without the second amendment there might not be any democracies in the world today.

We should regulate the realty industry more tightly than we regulate the securities industry.

Right, there are techniques for controlling the subjective time rate in Neurolinguistic Programming and in hypnosis.

My absurd beliefs, or at least some of them:

Open borders would be tremendously advantageous, and that immigration restrictions will eventually be considered nearly as immoral as slavery is now.

People can't think clearly when they're being insulted, and it is therefore important to be polite.

You can't predict much about the behavior of people in a religion by studying their holy book(s). You'd do better to view the religion as a culture and study the people.

Fatness/leaness should be viewed as mostly as individual variation rather than a moral issue. There's a substantial range of fat percentages which are irrelevent to health. Most efforts to lose weight do not produce a net improvement in quality of life--that's why they fail.

Physical coordination can be improved.

Most people do more good than harm.

Most beliefs that the world is getting worse are actually nostalgia for when your knees didn't hurt.

Bernard Guerrero,

You are spot on. I hope that in your circles these are not truly held to be absurd beliefs.

I believe that if either the Israelis OR the Palestinians, unliaterally, were to start behaving themselves, it would make peace and justice possible in the Middle East. No more bombs, no more breaking treaties, no more retaliatory razing of homes, no more stoning of guards or torture of prisoners. Whatever. Either side could break the cycle.

I totally agree with the very first comment (abandon offsides).

Besides that, I believe that the practice of companies providing guidance to Wall Street, and focusing on/caring about analysts expectations, is fundamentally wrong and counter productive. Do the right thing for the long term health of the business, Wall Street analysts be damned.

I believe we shoud abolish direct election of anyone representing more than a few hundred people, and replace that system by election of local (town or neighborhood) councils, who then elect the next higher level of govt, and so on up to the congress and the president. Oh, and that war powers should only be granted to the president for a few days, after which power reverts to a necessarily bi-partison senate committee.

(1) In world of enforceable contracts, contracts for slavery and indentured servitude should be allowed.
(2) American football is a greater intellectual problem than essentially every other human amusement. Chess, by contrast, is fundamentally no more intellectually nteresting than normaly 3x3 tic-tac-toe.
(3) In 100 years, George W. Bush will be held in at least as much esteem as Theodore Roosevelt is now.

I believe that Earth is the only place in the universe where life exists. (FYI I'm an atheist).

I know I'm a bit late with this...
And this might not particularly fit the prompt...

But, caveats aside, I think the American nation-state will fall within my lifetime (I'm now 19).

(The more I think about it, it doesn't seem that absurd; but that may just be my perspective talking.)

tom - I know a guy on LiveJournal (selenite) who is expecting an actual civil war in the U.S. That's pretty absurd, isn't it?

Tracy W. said: 2. Coffee smells terrible and tastes nearly as bad as it smells.

Now that's absurd.

I think that in a few centuries the idea of cities/regions being bound inescapably to countries will be seen the same way that serfs being bound inescapably to a given lord is seen today.

Or to put it in another way, countries/regions will eventually be able to freely vote themselves out of (and into) participation in the national life of any state they desire, the same way that employees can nowadays choose to quit their jobs and seek employment elsewhere.

I believe in the "United States of Europe" becoming a reality in a near future. I have very little support on this issue, hélas.

I'm also convinced it is possible to do a very good movie with Frank Herbert's Dune novels. Lynch's 1983 version was awful.

Kurt Cobain was murdered by Courtney Love

We will defeat cancer and ageing within my lifetime.

1. The baseball strike of 1994-1995 was due to collusion by the American teams to deny the Expos a World Series win. The Blue Jays had won the World Series the two previous years, and the Expos were on pace to take it all. Neither Canadian team had/has been in the running since.

2. Just as important as the minimum wage, there should be a maximum wage. I'm sorry, but I do not believe any CEO is worth more than $1 million per year, let along multiple millions. I just don't buy it.

"I'm sorry, but I do not believe any CEO is worth more than $1 million per year, let along multiple millions. I just don't buy it."

Nobody has made the right argument to you before, that a CEO's million-dollar salary is just the "tip" on a hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars revenue "meal" that could not possibly have been placed on the director's "board" without his "cooking and serving." At least I know that is absolutely true of the company I work for, and that's not an "absurd belief." I could back that up with adequate proof (but would rather keep my place of work private; suffice to say it's a competitor of Halliburton's, and probably a few of you have guessed it anyway).

After the gospel of Christ, the commentary of the scottish enlightenment (Hume, Smith, Reid et al) saved and redeemed human life.

. . .and my 'absurd' belief is that humans are the only intelligent creatures in the entire universe. This one is funny because the opposite and everything in between are just as absurd.

(Also, this seems awfully close to Edge's 2005 question: What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?)

That I don't have to read The Da Vinci Code to conclude that it's a bad book.
That 21 Grams was not a good movie.
That having been crucified isn't praiseworthy at all, especially if you intented to be resurrected later on.

That there is hope to reverse gerrymandering (in the US) without resorting to physical violence.

That nothing I believe is absurd.

(OK, I don't think I really believe that. I don't think I do.)

Drinking while driving should most certainly not be a crime. Drunk driving should be, but certainly not at 0.8% BAC.

1 That in an anarchist world, there would be some governance organizations that function almost exactly like today's nation states..

2 That I will write one (and one only) memorable book in my present life.

3 That the United States is the greatest threat to freedom in this world.

PS: Maybe the last one isn't a weird thing to believe.

"Perhaps, *gasp*, some day people will contribute to society not because of material reward, but because they feel it is the right thing to do."

Whew, you've got me beat out by orders of magnitude, Roger. That does sound absurd. :^)

I do not believe that the evidence supports Evolution AND I am not a Creationist.

A "White" history month sounds fair to me.

People (as caterpillar is to butterfly) are just a transitionary form of intelligence which will give birth to the singularity and gray goo which will signal the end of people, but that's not a bad thing because it'll bring the Gaia consciousness.

That it doesn't matter whether Barry Bonds took steroids.

That Pete Rose is a much worse offender against Baseball than any PED user.

I agree with jsmith above that sex-offender registries seem overly harsh, especially if the criminal has "paid their debt to society".

I disagree that offsides in and of itself is a bad thing, it is just officiated so poorly.

That, sometime within a decade, we will see the first CEO (or executive team) outsourced to a foreign country. That half of the Fortune 500 will follow.

I believe that time travel into the past is possible, but requires a "receiving station", which we haven't learnt to build yet. The assumption that it must be impossible (because we have never met any time travellers from the future) is like a man who doesn't own a phone saying that phone calls must be impossible because no-one has ever called him.

P=NP. I'm not convinced, but I'm certainly not convinced of the opposite.

I worry about fiat money.

Not being a complete agnostic, I'll include my religious beliefs, without specifying what they are.

I believe that most people are basically good.

Best way to solve our Iraq problem is to put Saddam Hussein back into power.

democracy, progress, and honesty

That everything's going to be okay.

"Anderson, it is a great tragedy that the great scam known as Scientology chooses to present as its public face enmity with the great scam known as Psychiatry. I assure you that the Szasz view of Psychiatry owes nothing to the vile intellectual offspring of L. Ron Hubbard."

Maybe, Noah, but Szasz seemed to be okay with it...

This is a great article. I am new to your blog and i like what I see. I look forward to your future work.

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Jesus was an atheist.

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