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Alicorn comments on What is Bayesianism? - Less Wrong

81 Post author: Kaj_Sotala 26 February 2010 07:43AM

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Comment author: Alicorn 26 February 2010 11:21:27PM 11 points [-]

You're missing the point. This post is suitable for an audience whose eyes would glaze over if you threw in numbers, which is wonderful (I read the "Intuitive Explanation of Bayes' Theorem" and was ranting for days about how there was not one intuitive thing about it! it was all numbers! and graphs!). Adding numbers would make it more strictly accurate but would not improve anyone's understanding. Anyone who would understand better if numbers were provided has their needs adequately served by the "Intuitive" explanation.

Comment author: pjeby 27 February 2010 04:03:02AM 11 points [-]

Agreed, I did not find the "Intuitive Explanation" to be particularly intuitive even after multiple readings. Understanding the math and principles is one thing, but this post actually made me sit up and go, "Oh, now I see what all the fuss is about," outside a relatively narrow range of issues like diagnosing cancer or identifying spam emails.

Now I get it well enough to summarize: "Even if A will always cause B, that doesn't mean A did cause B. If B would happen anyway, this tells you nothing about whether A caused B."

Which is both a "well duh" and an important idea at the same time, when you consider that our brains appear to be built to latch onto the first "A" that would cause B, and then stubbornly hang onto it until it can be conclusively disproven.

That's a "click" right there, that makes retroactively comprehensible many reams of Eliezer's math rants and Beisutsukai stories. (Well, not that I didn't comprehend them as such... more that I wasn't able to intuitively recreate all the implications that I now think he was expecting his readers to take away.)

So, yeah... this is way too important of an idea to have math associated with it in any way. ;-)

Comment author: PlatypusNinja 27 February 2010 07:56:44PM *  2 points [-]

Personally it bothers me that the explanation asks a question which is numerically unanswerable, and then asserts that rationalists would answer it in a given way. Simple explanations are good, but not when they contain statements which are factually incorrect.

But, looking at the karma scores it appears that you are correct that this is better for many people. ^_^;