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rwallace comments on The Hero With A Thousand Chances - Less Wrong

63 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 31 July 2009 04:25AM

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Comment author: rwallace 31 July 2009 10:06:05PM 1 point [-]

Yes, especially since we are talking about a world where magic works, something like that would be my first alternative explanation to the anthropic one. As I remarked in another comment, I would reserve judgment on which was more likely until I looked more closely at the data, especially at just how many times the world got lucky, because the improbability of the anthropic explanation is an exponential function of that.

Comment author: ChrisHibbert 01 August 2009 06:00:43PM 3 points [-]

The (narrative) fact that the leaders of this world believe that magic works isn't a convincing argument that magic works. For most of Earth's history, its leaders have believed in various forms of magic. You're still better off believing in natural causality.

Even if it turns out that there is something that looks like magic before you study it, it ought to look like science by the time you're done formalizing it.

Comment author: rkyeun 16 April 2014 04:15:20AM 1 point [-]

When someone summons me from another dimension, they get a little bit of leeway to tell me it's magic. Because at the very least it must be a sufficiently advanced technology, and until I know better the axiom of identity applies.

Comment author: orthonormal 31 July 2009 10:11:49PM 0 points [-]

especially since we are talking about a world where magic works

Exactly: the principle behind Universal Fire would be strong evidence for the hypothesis of a narrative-driven simulation.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 01 August 2009 04:23:28PM 2 points [-]

One assumes that either their universe does run on QM and has additional principles laid on top of it, or the spell operated as a physiology translator. I assumed the latter, and yes, thank you, I worked it out in advance.

Comment author: orthonormal 01 August 2009 06:51:41PM 0 points [-]

Could you share some of the main character's thought process in ruling out the "narrative-driven simulation" hypothesis in favor of the anthropic one? I still would see that as the most likely conclusion were I in the main character's shoes, since it would require a much simpler root universe than a world with trans-universal magic spells and resistance to reductionism.

If I'm ruining the point of the story, though, then I'm OK with giving up this line of questioning. Some suspension of disbelief (and departure from Bayesianism in characters) is certainly warranted even in rationalist fiction...

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 02 August 2009 01:33:45AM 3 points [-]

Well, since the beginning, not one unusual thing has ever happened. Now in Aerhien's world, magic works, which is in fact unusual, and in reality has never happened. However, by writing the story, I counterfactually postulated, within the story confines, that magic has happened, implying that magic is not unusual. So the hero, within the story confines, does not see anything unusual about it either.

That is, along with the counterfactual "magic is not unusual" I also postulated the reflective levels "magic is not perceived as unusual", "magic not being perceived as unusual is not seen as an unusual thought process", etc.

Comment author: orthonormal 02 August 2009 03:16:40AM 0 points [-]

Fair enough; I don't want to ruin a fine story by nitpicking the protagonist's prior. I was mainly wondering whether there was some bit of evidence I was missing, or whether this was just part of the necessary suspension of disbelief. I'm fine with it being the latter.