Definitions, Take 2
Well, Nicolas, I don't think we are sharing the same definitions quite yet.
I'll update my terms in the hope that we'll agree to some shared definitions.
Level of Trust - a level of expectation that a model or proposition is true (level on a scale from zero to one). Every meaningful proposition can be assigned a degree of trust.
Strong Belief - a proposition for which one has a high level of expectation that the proposition is true (level on a scale from zero to one, but typically greater than 0.5). Only a subset of meaningful propositions are categorized as strong beliefs.
Relative Belief - a proposition, that while one may have a low level of expectation that the proposition is true, is estimated to be most likely true (level on a scale from zero to one, often less than 0.5). Example: My sports team will win the championship.
Knowledge - that subset of strong beliefs justified by empirical facts and by verified models.
Faiths - that subset of beliefs unjustified by empirical facts or by verified models.
Heuristics - that subset of faiths unjustified by, yet consistent with, empirical facts and verified models.
Superstitions - that subset of faiths inconsistent with empirical facts and verified models.
(Man, I need to make a Venn Diagram.)
Every person has a different quantity of experience, scientific expertise, and capacity for reason. This explains why one person's knowledge is another person's faith, or one person's heuristic is another person's superstition.
Here are some examples of my terminology:
All men are mortal - Trust does not apply because the proposition is not meaningful.
The Chicago Cubs will win the World Series this season. - I have a 4% level of confidence that this proposition is true. Therefore, it is not a strong belief. However, I may think they have the best chance of any team of winning, so I may call this a relative belief.
The energy of a photon is proportional to its frequency. - Knowledge based on empirical facts and confirming experiments.
The world is subject to physical laws. - This is a faith, specifically, this is a heuristic.
God made humans in different races and intended that the races not interbreed. - This is a faith, specifically, this is a superstition.
Now, suppose I want to plan a project. I will estimate risk and reward.
I may decide to base my plan on a relative belief, e.g., I may invest in Microsoft stock on the estimation that it is most likely to be a good investment.
I may decide to pray that I recover from a treatable disease instead of seeking medical attention. This is a decision based on superstition.
When I started my business, I believed it would be successful. I figured I had better than a 50% chance of success (though not much better). I also thought that I had a very small chance of great success. Overall, the expectation value of my return on investment was high enough to pursure the business. Furthermore, if the business failed, I knew I could return to the work I was doing before (hey, it was the nineties!). I would say that I believed that my business would be a success, but I did not have faith it would be a success (by my definitions).
There are times when we want to convince ourselves to believe in something that we do not trust so that we can make proposition more likely. If I do not believe that I can compose music, I will decrease my ability to compose music by reducing my motivation. This is a heuristic. If I doubt myself, my performance will probably be worse. If I believe in myself, my performance will be better. Whether this heuristic is a good idea or not depends on the consequences of failure. If I can't compose music, I've wasted some of my free time. No big deal. If I falsely believe that I can win the Ansari X Prize and invest my life savings in a rocket, there is a high cost of failure.
One other scenario. I may not plan my actions at all. Action without planning accurs more frequently than we would like to admit. I can throw a punch or say something cruel as an emotional outlet, without planning for the consequences. When we act on impulse like this, the only thing that we are trusting is that the resulting emotional release will be pleasurable or cathartic.
Perhaps you want to re-label some of my definitions? Or add new definitions for new terms?