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Comment by vrt on Universal Fire · 2008-04-06T02:19:20.000Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer:

You wrote:

Quote: I think a lot of people are missing the point here. I was not engaging in literary criticism but making a point about how the REAL WORLD works. I read the story, I liked the story, I bought the frikkin' book, okay? But here in the REAL WORLD it is important to realize how tightly things are laced together - that it is not an arbitrary mess of surface rules, UNLIKE fantasy stories (which are perfectly fine, as fantasy stories). :Unquote

Humans have been constructing theories to account for physical phenomena for how many millions of years? And the universe is how many billions of years old old? And Occam's razor is how many centuries old? Admittedly, physics, and science generally has made a lot of headway by applying it, but that doesn't mean it's a property of the Universe. The razor may dull with use & be replaced with some other tool. You have a strong intuition (so do I) that the physical law is inately parsimonious, but that may be an artifact of the historical period in which we live.

Since we're illustrating our points with examples from SF/fantasy:

Terry Pratchet's Strata is a fantasy story illustrating how the real world can be (locally) a mess of suface rules exactly like fantasy stories.

Pratchet's point is that parsimony, as a characteristic of physical laws, goes out the window once concious agents enter the picture. He goes on to postulate a sort of nightmare universe in which no physical law uncontaminated by conscious agency exists.