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hegemonicon comments on Why You're Stuck in a Narrative - Less Wrong

38 [deleted] 04 August 2009 12:31AM

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Comment author: [deleted] 04 August 2009 04:34:48PM *  2 points [-]

That portion could probably stand to be clarified - at the very least I should provide a link to what I'm referring to: http://yudkowsky.net/rational/technical

The point is to make your explanations have the possibility to increase your knowledge, rather than just satisfy your explanation-itch. If they can equally explain all outcomes, they aren't really explanations.

To use Eliezer's favorite example, phlogiston "feels" like an explanation for why things burn - but it doesn't actually effect what you expect to see happen in the world.

Comment author: ArthurB 04 August 2009 05:52:37PM *  2 points [-]

An explanation cannot increase your knowledge.Your knowledge can only increase by observation. Increasing your knowledge is a decision theory problem (exploration/exploitation for example).

Phlogiston explains why some categories of things burn and some don't. Phlogiston predicts that dry wood will always burn when heated to a certain temperature. Phlogiston explains why different kind of things burn as opposed to sometime burn and sometimes not burn. It explains that if you separate a piece of woods in smaller pieces, every smaller piece will also burn.

To clarify my original point, the problem isn't the narrative. The narrative is a heuristic, it's a method to update from an observation by remembering a simple unimodal distribution centered on the narrative (what I think most likely happened, how confident I am)

Comment author: [deleted] 04 August 2009 07:04:33PM *  1 point [-]

Edited my reply to correct and clarify (though I'll pass on debating the merits of phlogiston theory).

After re-reading your original comment (it took me a while to parse it) I generally agree with your points. In particular I think "The bug is discarding the rest of the probability distribution" is a good way of summarizing the problem, and something I'll be mulling over.