epistemic stalling. 2021-01-10T09:24:19.420Z


Comment by alfred on epistemic stalling. · 2021-01-11T06:42:17.526Z · LW · GW

argon, please use a consistent name across all media. if I had known this Big Steve account was you, it would have saved me a lot of time.

Comment by alfred on epistemic stalling. · 2021-01-11T01:30:53.149Z · LW · GW

• courts of laws aren't primarily truthseeking practices. as in, courts fulfill a governmental function primarily and the truth is auxiliary. they can be truthseeking, but they aren't by design. the adversarial system for example is antithetical to truthseeking, because attorneys have no obligation to the whole truth. lying by omission is permitted.

• even if they were, what you're trying to get at - analogizing the role of demographic qualities to licensing credentials - doesn't hold here. a steelman of your argument would be that licensing means lawyers can more deftly handle certain kinds of evidence, so their licensure is a shortcut because we know to listen to them over someone else. this would NOT mean that their licensure makes some claim correct. for this analogy to hold, "you're just saying that because you're not a lawyer" would have to be a coherent objection. there are very few instances where this objection would be relevant to the truth of any claim and even in those objections, the truth of the claim that "you're just saying that because" rebuts wouldn't depend on who is "allowed in the discourse", it would be a descriptive explanation of the origin of their interlocutor's ignorance.

Comment by alfred on epistemic stalling. · 2021-01-10T23:20:40.070Z · LW · GW

there are categories of rebuttals and demands for evidence where the biggest issue in fulfilling them is time.

if you need a non political example, a common phenomenon of this kind is a document dump in legal practice. (but you shouldn't; we are going to engage politics all the time and you're going to need to be able to process politics rationally.)

misdirection is too broad and does not describe this precisely. stalling is the right focus, and seeing this as "dominance and emotional reactions" is missing the point or grossly misreading the situation. there is nothing in this dialogue that would allow you to make an inference about dominance, and emotionality is probably a factor, but it can be for just about every fallacy and the point of fallacies isn't to describe emotions - the point of fallacies is to identify problematic epistemic categories.

if you need another example, there is this phenomenon of taking objection to something by virtue of how it is characterized until the pet preference for characterization is reached (characterization roulette), a la:

A: "I'm not sure wearing bright colors like red is a good idea if you don't want to be seen in a crowd."

B: "it's not red"

A: "okay, purple"

B: "it's not purple either"

A: "okay, fuchsia"

B: "but I don't think bright fuchsia will stand out that much anyway, because lots of people in that area of town wear bright colors"

a non-stalling version of this is:

A: "I'm not sure wearing bright colors like red is a good idea if you don't want to be seen in a crowd."

B: "lots of people in that area of town wear bright colors"

the clear issue here is time, because it's unreasonable to think that A won't eventually reach the color that meet's B's satisfaction. since it's time-based, "stalling" is how best to describe this.

Comment by alfred on epistemic stalling. · 2021-01-10T23:00:28.806Z · LW · GW

the burden of evidence doesn't change by who is "allowed" into a discussion. if I make a claim about the migration patterns of birds the evidence required for this claim is going to be the same regardless of who is hearing it. if I make a claim about the inequalities in society this doesn't change. they're both empirical claims and both have the same kinds of evidential requirements. if someone is trying to "maintain appropriate boundaries", whatever that means, making empirical claims is probably the opposite of that.

this idea of being "allowed in the discourse" is a nonsequitur. if you need to be "allowed" to make truth claims, what you're doing isn't a truthseeking or epistemic practice, so it's not something that terms relating to epistemic hygiene describe in any sense and only relevant in as an instance of misinterpretation. this is akin to saying that if someone says you can't dance with them at an event that a canned line about their refusal to provide evidence, such as "you can google it" — perhaps "it" refers to the dance steps — doesn't necessarily describe bad epistemic practice. well, duh. but dancing isn't an epistemic activity, so it's a left-field objection anyway.

Comment by alfred on epistemic stalling. · 2021-01-10T16:23:39.285Z · LW · GW

people who procrastinate, including me and probably you and most people reading this, do so in a semi-intentional state where they're half-aware and might be more aware if prompted but can easily suppress awareness further too. intention is not binary. at the point of performance, procrastinators (so, all of us) aren't actively thinking "I'm procrastinating" nor are they aware that they're explicitly making choices to do that. but, if a person interrupts them to let them know they're doing that, their consciousness might be shaken enough to stop the behavior. (of course, we can train ourselves to do that too, and it's obviously much harder.)

I didn't address intentionality because I don't think the binary states of intentional or unintentional are helpful in stopping it. most people don't make fallacies or other acts of bad epistemic practice in completely intentional or completely unintentional modes. they often have some vague awareness that what they're doing is off but, like someone who is procrastinating, they're probably not going to scrutinize their intentions further unless they have the vocabulary and concepts to do so quickly. this purpose of post is to provide both.

Comment by alfred on epistemic stalling. · 2021-01-10T16:11:02.399Z · LW · GW

it's still stalling, because they should start with the argument that would best rebut the same claim by someone who was "allowed in the discourse." this modification is trivial and doesn't make epistemic stalling a non-thing, i.e. people obviously do in fact do this.

Comment by alfred on Compartmentalization as a passive phenomenon · 2010-10-09T21:30:09.084Z · LW · GW

Your "wrong but not obviously and completely wrong" line made me think that the "obviously and completely" part is what makes people who are well-versed in a subject demand that everyone should know [knowledge from subject] when they hear someone express obvious-and-complete ignorance or obvious-and-complete wrongness in/of said subject. I've witnessed this a few times, and usually the thought process is something like "wow, it's unfathomable that someone should express such ignorance of something that is so obvious to me. There should clearly be a class to make sure this doesn't happen." After reading what you wrote about compartmentalized knowledge and connected knowledge, this type of situation makes much more sense.