Comment by douglas on Purpose and Pragmatism · 2007-11-26T08:55:02.000Z · LW · GW

Eliezer- I like these ideas. I’m thinking a possible distinction between a seeker (one attempting to overcome bias) and a dogmatist (one attempting to defend bias) would be that a seeker takes a pragmatic rationality and looks for exceptions (thereby continuing to look for the deeper epistemic rationality) whereas a dogmatist takes a pragmatic rationality and turns it into an epistemic rationality by ignoring or redefining exceptions. Am I understanding?

Comment by douglas on Not for the Sake of Happiness (Alone) · 2007-11-22T08:55:15.000Z · LW · GW

Constant-- deja vu is not always necessarily contentless. See the work of Ian Stevenson. Mystical experiences are not necessarily centered around anything false-- see "The Spiritual Brain", by Beauregard (the neuroscientist who has studied these phenomena more than any other researcher.)

Comment by douglas on Not for the Sake of Happiness (Alone) · 2007-11-22T08:43:24.000Z · LW · GW

Eliezer, if we reduce every desire to "happiness" than haven't we just defined away the meaning of the word? I mean love and the pursuit of knowledge and watching a scary movie are all rather different experiences. To say that they are all about happiness-- well then, what wouldn't be? If everything is about happiness, then happiness doesn't signify anything of meaning, does it?

James, are you purposefully parodying the materialist philosophy based on the disproved Newtonian physics?

Comment by douglas on Artificial Addition · 2007-11-21T23:59:45.000Z · LW · GW

anonymous--I'd like to second that motion

Comment by douglas on The Simple Math of Everything · 2007-11-20T02:41:59.000Z · LW · GW

g-- cats without heritable variation? Where you get some of them?

Comment by douglas on The Simple Math of Everything · 2007-11-19T07:59:10.000Z · LW · GW

The math of a subject is only valuable when one understands the basic terminology of the subject. As Chris points out, knowing when to use statistics (the basic assumptions and what the word applies to) makes something like the Doomsday Arguement good for a laugh. It is ridiculous. On evolutionary biology-- Evolution is defined as " any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next." This frequency changes with each birth. So to make the definition into regular English we could say Evolution is defined as "living things reproduce" (the fact of evolution). In modem evolutionary genetics, natural selection is defined as "the differential reproduction of genotypes (individuals of some genotypes have more offspring than those of others)". In English- some cats have more babies than other cats. So the statement "It is a fact that some cats have more babies than other cats," would be the proof of evolution by natural selection as the terms are currently defined. Doesn't that help more than a mathematical equation?

Comment by douglas on Terminal Values and Instrumental Values · 2007-11-15T19:53:56.000Z · LW · GW

J Thomas--"in principle you ought to consider the entire state of the future universe when you set a terminal value." Yes, and in practice we don't. But as I look further into the future to see the consequences of my terminal value(s), that's when the trouble begins.

igor--I want to defend Eliezer's bias against boredom. It seems that many of the 'most moral' terminal values (total freedom, complete knowledge, endless bliss...) would end up in a condition of hideous boredom. Maybe that's why we don't achieve them.

Richard- I read your post. I agree with the conclusions to a large extent, but totally disagree with the premises. (For example- I think the only valueable thing is subjective experience) Isn't that amazing?

Comment by douglas on Terminal Values and Instrumental Values · 2007-11-15T09:02:43.000Z · LW · GW

The disticintion between instrumental values and terminal values is useful in thinking about political and economic issues (the 2 areas I’ve thought about so far…) I’m running into a problem with ‘terminal’ values, and I wonder if this isn’t typical. A terminal value implies the future in a way that an insturmental value does not. The instrumental value is for an action carried out in a finite time and leads to an outcome in the foreseeable future. A terminal value posits all futures—this is an endless recusive algorithm. (At least I don’t have an end to the future in my thinking now). When I ask myself, “How do I want things to be in the future?” I can carry this question out only so far, but my concept of the future goes well beyond any currently imaginable scenarios.

Comment by douglas on Thou Art Godshatter · 2007-11-15T01:49:32.000Z · LW · GW

Some new info re: evolution you might want to consider before taking the gene view of evolution to its logical conclusions: "Although we agree that evolutionary theory is not undergoing a Kuhnian revolution, the incorporation of new data and ideas about hereditary variation, and about the role of development in generating it, is leading to a version of Darwinism that is very different from the gene-centred one that dominated evolutionary thinking in the second half of the twentieth century." how new thinking applies to societies

Comment by douglas on Fake Morality · 2007-11-12T09:02:00.000Z · LW · GW

Caledonian- I agree that Newton missed opportunities to improve his models. That was not what I said, only that his belief in God didn't hinder him from doing better than those that came before.
Here's an odd question-- If we took Newton as an example-
Which is currently a greater hinderance to scientific understanding-
A belief in God, or a belief in a materialistic/mechanistic description of the universe?

Comment by douglas on Fake Morality · 2007-11-10T18:54:48.000Z · LW · GW

gutzperson-- I read the article. I am not surprised that there are self-interested parties that are making more of what Flew has said than what he has actully said. (A sad reality when passions are so thourghly engaged.) It seems to me that his basic point, there must be an underlying intelligence to this universe, was shared by Newton, Planck, and Einstein. It appears a belief in God does not hinder one from understanding the universe better than anyone that came before. That is not an arguement for the existence of God though, is it?

Comment by douglas on Beware of Stephen J. Gould · 2007-11-10T08:40:31.000Z · LW · GW

Before deciding that Gould's theory was wrong or unimportant, read something from 2007.

Comment by douglas on Fake Morality · 2007-11-10T08:37:36.000Z · LW · GW

For a rationalists reason for going from atheism to a belief in God see

For the scientific case for the existence of the soul see the books 1)Mario Beauregard "The Spiritual Brain, A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul" (This book is written by the leading brain researcher on spiritual experience and is suitable for non-experts) 2)"Irreducible Mind" by Kelly and Kelly (This book is writen for psychologists and advanced students-- assumes some knowledge of philosophy and psychology-- the authors inform me that they have no current plans to write a similar book for the general public. It is worth the trouble 10 times over in my estimation)

Comment by douglas on Fake Morality · 2007-11-09T08:34:39.000Z · LW · GW

selfreferencing, skyfort, David Williams, Thank-you. I've always been an immortal spiritual being. Unfortunately my experience with religions has not always been all that religious and I can relate to what Eliezer is saying here. (using religion to spread fear bugs me-- I don't feel the need to be afraid at all.) It is a pleasure to read that you have gotten a better understanding from your theological studies than I got--perhaps I have some bias to overcome before I can see what you do. Thank-you again.

Comment by douglas on Fake Morality · 2007-11-08T23:37:52.000Z · LW · GW

Robin, and that would be a good use for religion. I had to lose one (a religion) because of the fear factor-- I didn't lose my morality (as Eliezer predicts), but I'm not sure anybody knows God (assuming existence) well enough to speak for him. That was incredibly difficult for me to accept for a while.

Comment by douglas on Fake Morality · 2007-11-08T22:41:57.000Z · LW · GW

The point about the two philosophers is fantastic! Using religion in an attempt to make people act right out of fear saddens me.

Comment by douglas on An Alien God · 2007-11-04T11:04:13.000Z · LW · GW

g- Oh, the probability that the appearance of human life postdating the appearance of other life by more the a week is 99.9999999...% (I understand the question now) I am not reluctant to say where I get information. I am more than happy to. I appologize for not making it easier-- The information on tuberculosis can be found in Molecular Microbiology 33 pages 982-993. The best summary of the information can be found in "Quantum Evolution" by Johnjoe McFadden. You can read the relevant pages at Another article that explains the difficulty of this type of evolution can be found at The difficulties of this type of mutation can be read about in Scientific American April 2006 pages 81-83. There are 3 other referenced works of interest listed in the article. (More if you need them) Biases of interest-- a current scientific theory that does not explain all phenomena should be recognized as incorrect or incomplete. Newton's law of gravity never correctly predicted the orbit of Mercury-- otherwise it seemed very good. Einstein's theory does predicit of the orbit of Mercury and more-- But as good as Newton's theory was, Einstein's turned the world upside down. As close to correct that classical physics was-- QM turned the world inside out. To say a theory is good doesn't mean that the more correct theory won't change things radically. What would a Bayesian think the odds the new theory would be radically different be? So the bias in this case is "If it's close it must be mostly right." Is this phenomena one that will be the down-fall of the current theory? I don't know-- I'm guessing the non-randomness of these mutations will lead to a new understanding of life and evolution and that the new theory will be radically different from the existing one. I maybe wrong, but I don't want a bias to get in the way of the investigation. (I'm sorry, I realize that this is an issue that the "creationists" have jumped on and the fact that I am interested in it too probably kicks up all kinds of bias (the question about the apperance of humans...) and I should be more careful in making my statements.)

Comment by douglas on An Alien God · 2007-11-04T02:51:46.000Z · LW · GW

g- What I'm trying to say about evolution is not outside the scientific consensus. That is that the way these bacteria evolve is not well explained by the neo-darwin model of evolution. I've supplied at least one link that should make that clear. (, for example) I'm sorry that my links/ hints to find this simple fact have not been more helpful. My comments about my methods are a means of begging some indulgence-- if I google 'competent cells' or 'tuberculosis strain w' I'll find something that makes my point in a few minutes-- I am realizing this is not universally true. (I have a bias that people will do what I do-- I can get over that and be more specific in the future) You are correct that the original work is long-- that's why I gave the link to amazon and the johnjoe book-- for me it opens to the page that has the relavent information. Apparently others had trouble... I am not offering a new theory that explains this form of evolution-- rather I am pointing out that it is not time to conclude that "we know about how things have evolved" especially when the current model has known- well known- shortcomings. Consider that the only actual evolution that has been observed does not fit the model and you can understand this is not a small issue. Is this inappropriate for this venue? My estimate of the probability that human life post dated other life on Earth is 99.9999999(you can add as many 9's as you like)%.

Comment by douglas on An Alien God · 2007-11-03T20:07:49.000Z · LW · GW

Pete- I agree that I am usually skeptical about things with the word quantum in the title. Seems a lot of BS fits into that bag. Yes it is Johnjoe, I like his writing because it is clear. He tells me that his next book will be on Occum's Razor, by the way. Probably excellent. Pete, g, TGGP-- I am an independent researcher and it is becoming obvious to me that the methods I have developed are not ordinary. This doesn't really surprise me since the one thing that people who know me well can agree on is that "You're not like other people." (Sometimes they mean that as a compliment- I hope...) Here is a web address that can be of value The original discussion about TB in particular comes from Hall-- Molecular Microbiology 33 pages 982-993. (I'm not sure how available that is to you.) The notion that competent cells do not fit well with the "random mutation + natrual selection" model of evolution is not new or particularly controversial with those who know of the phenomena. How to deal with the phenomena is up in the air-- This is the area of science where new discoveries and new theories are made-- the stuff I like. Also these are the areas where personal bias is most likely to be engaged and needed to be overcome-- thus my interest in this particular site.

Comment by douglas on An Alien God · 2007-11-03T00:32:02.000Z · LW · GW

g- You are being dim. (That's OK, please read on) Life forms have evolved. I can prove it. I am reasonably certain that humans have not been around since the beginning of life forms- I like humans- evolution is good. I have not questioned the fact of evolution, or if it is good or bad, I am saying that the observed instances of evolution do not fit well with the current theory as espoused by Dennett, Dawkins and Eliezer in this post. (Or any other current theory that I am aware of...) Dennett claims that "gradualism" (which is the logical premise behind the TOE that he is espousing) is "the universal solvent" In otherwords it can be used to solve any problem. Check the web address I gave TGGP- the book Quantum Evolution by Joejohn Mcfadden has the simplest and most direct explanation of the problem that TB evolution poses for both neo-darwinism and mankind. By the way, the existence of 'competent cells' has been recognized for years. To say they evolve by random mutation is to not recognize their existence. To say their existence is due to natural selection is not compatable with the data. Gradual is not how they mutate when presented with a stessor- that's where the competent comes from in the name. To suggest that this phenomena occurs in multi-cellular life forms as well as single celled organisms...that's my prediction. (I'm unaware if this has been observed yet) Wanta bet I'm right? How much?

Comment by douglas on An Alien God · 2007-11-02T21:19:37.000Z · LW · GW

tggp-1) google--tuberculosis strain w evolution of 2) down the page go to the amazon book review of "Quantum Evolution" by Johnjoe Mcfadden. This will call up a page that includes the most relevent info. I realize that the info on this is not well advertised. Of course when a theory that is promoted for so long as the explanation of everything (See Dennett's "Darwin's Dangerous Idea") predicts a cure and produces an incureable disease with an ever increasing pile of dead bodies-- This is a real life example of the problem and dangers of bias.

Comment by douglas on An Alien God · 2007-11-02T17:28:34.000Z · LW · GW

Eliezer- Please update your thinking re: evolution to include the observed evolution of the tuberculosis bacteria strain w. This sort of evolution (in which organisms presented with a stressor trade and create new DNA sequences quickly- not at random at all) is going to be found to be ubiquitous. Perhaps this explains the difficulty in finding the "transitional forms" in the fossil record-- there aren't the expected transitional forms in the evolution of tuberculosis, and that is based on observation of something real- not a theory. (Another name for this phenomena is called competent cells) The purposefulness may not be so illusionary afterall. The "blind watchmaker" does not fit the evidence, and the sooner we admit that the sooner we will be able to overcome this bias. This is not just a theoretical problem-- the use of the old theory didn't give us a cure for tuberculosis, but it was a receipe for creating an incureable disease. How many times do we want to see that scenario play out?

Comment by douglas on Fake Justification · 2007-11-02T06:54:38.000Z · LW · GW

"Many Christians who've stopped really believeing..." Apparently many Christians have changed their minds in the face of new evidence. "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather it opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." Max Planck Did Max find the belief structure of scientists to be more irrational (unchangable in light of new evidence) than Eliezer has found the belief structure of Christians? Is the belief in scientific knowledge more blinding than the belief in the Bible? What am I to make of this evidence?

Comment by douglas on A Case Study of Motivated Continuation · 2007-11-01T17:46:28.000Z · LW · GW

J Thomas-- try Best place for the info. because it presents the problems without demanding any particular solution. outeast- good point about the speculations, but thought experiments can be off-the-wall and still be of value because they are designed to help see the world in a different or new way. Sometimes the off-the-wall ones are best for that reason IMO.

Comment by douglas on A Case Study of Motivated Continuation · 2007-11-01T06:09:17.000Z · LW · GW

J Thomas-- What you say fits well with the neo-Darwin model of evolution. One example you might be interested in that clearly does not is the tuberculosis bacteria. Google 'tuberculosis strain w' for more info. It turns out this sort of thing happens more than was previously thought (of course it wasn't thought to happen at all until fairly recently) This is a case of motivated continuation on my part- the old model predicted a cure that turned out to be a recipe for making an incurable disease-- uh I want to understand better.

Comment by douglas on A Case Study of Motivated Continuation · 2007-10-31T19:27:52.000Z · LW · GW

J Thomas- I'm not sure what your expertise- and this question is a little off post, but important to me and my personal biases, would you say the evidence today seems to indicate that the 'watchmaker' isn't blind? (maybe myopic...)

Comment by douglas on A Case Study of Motivated Continuation · 2007-10-31T07:14:24.000Z · LW · GW

The philosophy of refusing to come to a conclusion is called skeptcism. The word skeptic comes from the Greek to examine. While I understand the need to make decisions, I'm not so sure that it should trump the desire to not accept answers (keep looking). As has been pointed out in earlier posts, once a decision is made it often is hard to dislodge. For example, many people today accept neo-Darwinism as an answer to evolution. Yet the evidence from biology would indicate that neo-Darwinism is either false or incomplete. (Try dislodging that one) So while I agree that one often has to make decisions quickly based on incomplete and conflicting evidence, I don't think the question you posed in 'torture vs. dust specks' was framed in such a way as to demand that type of decision.

By the way, someone who has made up their mind about religion or the existence of para-psychological phenomena is not a skeptic in the historical meaning of the word.

Comment by douglas on Torture vs. Dust Specks · 2007-10-30T22:21:00.000Z · LW · GW

It is clearly not so easy to have a non-subjective determination of utility.
After some thought I pick the torture. That is because the concept of 3^^^3 people means that no evolution will occur while that many people live. The one advantage to death is that it allows for evolution. It seems likely that we will have evovled into much more interesting life forms long before 3^^^3 of us have passed.
What's the utility of that?

Comment by douglas on Torture vs. Dust Specks · 2007-10-30T07:45:40.000Z · LW · GW

The non-linear nature of 'qualia' and the difficulty of assigning a utility function to such things as 'minor annoyance' has been noted before. It seems to some insolvable. One solution presented by Dennett in 'Consciousness Explained' is to suggest that there is no such thing as qualia or subjective experience. There are only objective facts. As Searle calls it 'consciousness denied'. With this approach it would (at least theoretically) be possible to objectively determine the answer to this question based on something like the number of ergs needed to fire the neurons that would represent the outcomes of the two different choices. The idea of which would be the more/less pleasant experience is therefore not relevant as there is no subjective experience to be had in the first place. Of course I'm being sloppy here- the word choice would have to be re-defined to include that each action is determined by the physical configuration of the brain and that the chooser is in fact a fictional construct of that physical configuration. Otherwise, I admit that 3^^^3 people is not something I can easily contemplate, and that clouds my ability to think of an answer to this question.

Comment by douglas on No One Knows What Science Doesn't Know · 2007-10-29T10:58:40.000Z · LW · GW

g- Perhaps a more rigorous paper would be appropriate. Try PCE Stamp (2006) It's on the web. After covering many new experiments and discussion of the current formulations the conclusion goes something like this: "Decoherence, according to the older ideas, is supposed to explain away the quantum measurement problem..." "There are many things we still do not understand about decoherence and what causes it, and it should now be clear this is a pressing problem." (Some people use the 'measurement problem', others the 'observer problem'-- it depends on their philosophical bent) The bigger and more important point is this: ignorance and mystery are what makes good science. They give us something to learn. Knowing and no mystery are comforting and give us religion. I don't have any problem with religion, as long as we don't turn science into one. I doubt that was the point of the original post-- but when I read 'science knows' I just getting a yucky feeling, and I was using this example of why it's not such a good phrase.

Comment by douglas on Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK? · 2007-10-27T23:15:44.000Z · LW · GW

g- Nobody has suggested treating people other than with respect and love. It seems to be a fairly common thread in the things I'm reading here. Instead of asking "what group has a lower or higher IQ?", why not ask, "How do we raise an indiviual's IQ?" I may be misreading Job, I see more like- "don't forget the beauty that surrounds you"

Comment by douglas on Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK? · 2007-10-27T10:14:33.000Z · LW · GW

Perhaps I misunderstand the purpose of this web site, but why not just stop categorizing people and look at each individual as they are in the present with love and respect? Eliezer-excuse me if this is inappropriate, but have you read the book of Job? I don't mean as the word of God that must be believed at all costs, but as an insightful look at the human condition. (I'm not religious, but that doesn't mean I have to discount the wisedom that does show up in the Bible or other religious texts, does it?)

Comment by douglas on Double Illusion of Transparency · 2007-10-27T09:22:20.000Z · LW · GW

Silas- I like your example of interrogation. You rabble rouser, and I say that with utmost respect and love. I've had to throw out a couple of deeply cherished beliefs in my time, and it can be brutal. I try to go back to the question, "What does the evidence indicate?", and then I have to be willing to look at evidence that I had neglected because I was to fixed or bias to consider it. I must admit, when I look at the state of the world, I don't have a hard time believing that much of what currently passes as sense is actually nonsense. Ya know?

Comment by douglas on No One Knows What Science Doesn't Know · 2007-10-27T09:04:24.000Z · LW · GW

g- I think you've misread the article. There is nothing to worry about, of course, there are only possibilities to consider. The point the article makes is not dependant on any particular notion of free will. Stapp advocates the von Nuemann, Wigner formulation of QM, the only existing formulation that produces a rationally coherent idea of the reality that lies behind our experiences. IMHO Of course, one problem that people have with this formulation is that it agrees with with the experienced fact that our thoughts can influence our actions. Would anyone reading this post, or studying decision theory, or trying to overcome a bias, deny that?

Comment by douglas on Explainers Shoot High. Aim Low! · 2007-10-26T22:28:22.000Z · LW · GW

Matt- I'm seldom careful. The advantages of being carefree are too numerous to list, but one of the disadvantages is that I have to admit mistakes. You are not being overly pedantic. I'd probably make a lousy Bayesian. (I wonder what the prior probability of that is?) By the way, what do you think of a decision making protocol that assumes that the data gathering is random?

Comment by douglas on No One Knows What Science Doesn't Know · 2007-10-26T20:12:09.000Z · LW · GW

TGGP- there is a paper by Rosenblum and Kutter on that goes into this. I believe they make a convining case that no existent theory does away with the problem. I like this paper because it goes into the problems without too much jargon. You could google "observer problem decoherence" (or words to that effect) and you will find any number of papers written and a somewhat lively debate on the subject. The von Nuemann- Wigner interpretation of QM is often refered to as the "standard" interpretation, and it has as a basic that the observer injects a bit of information into the system with each subjective experience. The "quantum erasure" is an example of an experiment that might lead one to consider that the problem has not been solved. If you are technically minded, Stapp (you can just google stapp to get to his web page with its numerous papers) is a good source of information as to validity of various claims for various "interpretions" of QM. He's my personal favorite because he's been at it forever and knows the stuff cold. Need more?

Comment by douglas on Bayesian Judo · 2007-10-26T19:40:40.000Z · LW · GW

g- you ask good questions. My point about AI and religion is that rather than pretending that one is related to the other, AI would benefit from clearing up this confusion. (So would the religious) Perhaps the way Elizer went about it was OK I would define "soul" as a non-corporeal being that exists separable from the body and that survives body death. (I want to say something about the soul being the true source of consciousness and ability-- OK, I said it)

Comment by douglas on No One Knows What Science Doesn't Know · 2007-10-26T19:08:20.000Z · LW · GW

Ignorance is the basic foundation of science. Without things we are ignorant of there is no point to science. Mystery (and the desire solve it) is the motavation that drives most scientists to do the hard (often unrewarding) work that makes science. "Because God made it that way," can be the end of curiosity and therefore harmful to further discovery. "What has God wrought?" on the other hand has been the question that motavated men like Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein. "Decoherence solved the observer problem in physics," is an example of an incorrect statement that hinders people from looking into and, hopefully, solving some of the greastest myseries of the universe. Ignorance of ignorance is the greatest problem for science of them all. (By the way, the phrase 'what science really knows' made me think this post was a parody at first)

Comment by douglas on Bayesian Judo · 2007-10-26T07:20:35.000Z · LW · GW

g- the man said, "I don't believe AI is possible because only God can make a soul." "...If I can make an AI it proves your religion false?" Somebody in this exchange has equated the making of an AI with the making of a soul. That's why I would suggest that the words have been confused. An AI is not a soul would be useful in this discussion because it would clarify that the making of one would not invalidate the existence of the other or the statement that "only God can make a soul". Comparing the two notions would not be a problem, equating them is. You seem somewhat willing to (at least partially)accept the existence of AI based on bizarre hypothesis. If you would give me some idea of what sort of evidence you would accept for the existence of a soul, I would be happy to supply it if I can. Thank-you for your interesting comment re: Aumann.

Comment by douglas on Bayesian Judo · 2007-10-25T21:58:17.000Z · LW · GW

Before using Aumann one should ask, "What does this guy know that I don't?"

Comment by douglas on Bayesian Judo · 2007-10-25T21:49:44.000Z · LW · GW

Wouldn't it be easier to say, an AI is not a soul? In what sense do these two words have the same meaning? An AI is a non-existant entity which, due to the unflagging faith of some, is being explored. A soul is an eternal being granted life (human only?) by god (should that be capitalized?) Comparing them is what leads to the problem.

Comment by douglas on Double Illusion of Transparency · 2007-10-25T21:10:05.000Z · LW · GW

Silas- yes, good point, but an important subset in that the person attempting to do the explaining often overlooks it. When was the last time you were having trouble explaining or understanding something and you asked, "Is this just nonsense?"

Comment by douglas on Double Illusion of Transparency · 2007-10-25T16:25:56.000Z · LW · GW

We must not overlook the number one reason something is difficult to explain- that is that what one is trying to explain is nonsense. (this is not specifically directed at anyone posting here)

Comment by douglas on Explainers Shoot High. Aim Low! · 2007-10-24T22:40:59.000Z · LW · GW

Eliezer, you are right. One word for probability one is "certainty" and a word for probability zero is "impossible". Could we say then that with the exception of a situation of perfect, complete knowledge of conditions (a situation that may or may not actually exist in reality) that the Bayesian worldveiw would not include those words?

Comment by douglas on Explainers Shoot High. Aim Low! · 2007-10-24T18:57:46.000Z · LW · GW

Constant- thank-you. Micheal- I was indocrinated into Bayes many years ago. I agree that the probability 0 is not a rational one. (Who would have guessed in 1900 that the things that seemed most certain were wrong?) Or perhaps I should say that the probability 0 (or 1) is not a scientific attitude- science is based on looking to know- the assumption on probability 0 is the excuse to not look. I'm thinking that is a difference between religion and science- science has to be wrong (so that it can advance) whereas religion has to be right (to be worthy of total faith). Hmmm, I like that.

Comment by douglas on Explainers Shoot High. Aim Low! · 2007-10-24T08:03:36.000Z · LW · GW

Oops! (that last post was not intended to test anyone's psychic ability) The problem of Bayesian reasoning is in the setting of prior probability. There is some self correction built in, so it is a better system than most (or any other if you prefer), but a particular problem raises its ugly that is relevant to overcoming bias. Suppose I want to discuss a particular phenomena or idea with a Bayesian. Suppose this Bayesian has set the prior probability of this phenomena or idea at zero. What would be the proper gradient to approach the subject in such a case?

Comment by douglas on Explainers Shoot High. Aim Low! · 2007-10-24T07:44:03.000Z · LW · GW
Comment by douglas on Self-Anchoring · 2007-10-23T19:49:09.000Z · LW · GW

Constant- You make an excellent point. One question that often needs to be asked when reading experiments is- "Does the conclusion follow from the evidence presented?" (I often find the answer to be 'maybe not' Is the ability to vizualize a learned skill? Can you train someone to be better at it? I grew up with three brothers all about my age and my mother would often ask, "How would you like it if your brother did that to you?" This had an effect on me (or am I just imagining it?) Anyone know of such a study?

Comment by douglas on Pascal's Mugging: Tiny Probabilities of Vast Utilities · 2007-10-22T06:53:00.000Z · LW · GW

"I find myself in a simple world rather than a noisy one."
Care to expand on that?

Comment by douglas on Congratulations to Paris Hilton · 2007-10-22T06:43:00.000Z · LW · GW

"How would you recognize a natural ethical process if you saw one?"
How would you recognize an ethical process if you saw one? If you saw an ethical process would you think it unnatural, or supernatural, or what exactly? (Sorry if that's a silly question)