Do you want to know if someone is very sure about what they’re saying? Suggest a bet

Do you want to know if someone is very sure about what they're saying? Suggest a bet"A bet disconcerts him."

"The usual touchstone of whether what someone asserts is mere persuasion or at least a subjective conviction, i.e., firm belief, is betting.

Often someone pronounces his propositions with such confident and inflexible defiance that he seems to have entirely laid aside all concern for error. A bet disconcerts him. Sometimes he reveals that he is persuaded enough for one ducat but not for ten. For he would happily bet one, but at ten he suddenly becomes aware of what he had not previously noticed, namely that it is quite possible that he has erred."

From Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant

I do this with my teenage son to test whether he actually believes what he’s saying. It’s the test to know if he actually has the courage of his convictions, or whether he is – as we say – "talking out his butt."  If he says something I want to challenge, I’ll tell him what I think is the truth, and then say, "I’ll bet you $10." If he declines immediately, I’ll know he’s not really sure. But if he takes the bet immediately, I’ll know he might know something I don’t know, and he’s more likely to be right.

By the way, here’s the quote as it’s usually translated:

"The usual test, whether that which any one maintains is merely his persuasion, or his subjective conviction at least, that is, his firm belief, is a bet. It frequently happens that a man delivers his opinions with so much boldness and assurance, that he appears to be under no apprehension as to the possibility of his being in error. The offer of a bet startles him, and makes him pause. Sometimes it turns out that his persuasion may be valued at a ducat, but not at ten. For he does not hesitate, perhaps, to venture a ducat, but if it is proposed to stake ten, he immediately becomes aware of the possibility of his being mistakena possibility which has hitherto escaped his observation."

– From Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant, a new translation of Immanuel Kant’s 1781 work, by Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood.
– Immanuel Kant>>
– Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant>>

One thought on “Do you want to know if someone is very sure about what they’re saying? Suggest a bet”

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