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Okeymaker comments on For progress to be by accumulation and not by random walk, read great books - Less Wrong

35 Post author: MichaelVassar 02 March 2010 08:11AM

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Comment author: [deleted] 02 April 2015 07:24:00PM 0 points [-]

Err, I meant that I don´t find it likely that the human brain by itself have algorithms that are made for inventing calculus. He probably developed that thinking by other means. It was misfortunate of me to forget to spell out that last part.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 02 April 2015 10:22:41PM 1 point [-]

Well, right, but what I'm trying to understand is what "other means" you have in mind, and what you're trying to contrast them with, and how you think he went about developing them. As it stands, it sounds like you're trying to suggest that creative thinking isn't a natural function of the human mind.... which, again, I assume is not what you mean, but I'm at a loss to understand what you do mean.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 April 2015 03:01:59PM 1 point [-]

What I meant is simply: 1) IQ and creative thinking is not the same thing, the two concepts are not strongly connected to one and other. The brain operates differently when using stuff that requires high "IQ" and when "thinking creatively" (Algorithms related to both concepts still reside inside the brain of course.) 2) I think that Newton used both creative thinking and high IQ and perhaps some other part that the brain is equipped with by default, in order to develop his thinking in a way that allowed for the invention of calculus.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 03 April 2015 03:14:25PM 0 points [-]

Ah! OK, this helps clarify. Thanks.

For my own part, I agree that the cognitive processes underlying what we observe when we measure IQ aren't the same as the ones we observe when we evaluate creative thinking, though they certainly overlap significantly. And, sure, it seems likely that developing calculus requires both of those sets.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 April 2015 03:21:15PM 0 points [-]

Good we sorted it out :)

Comment author: dxu 03 April 2015 01:25:55AM *  0 points [-]

I think that by "creative thinking" Okeymaker is referring to something similar to what I describe in this comment, in that Newton employed more than simply "high processing speed and copious amounts of RAM" when he developed calculus.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 03 April 2015 03:11:05PM *  0 points [-]

Honestly, I grow more confused rather than less.

So, yes, of course there's more going on when thinking systems think than "processing speed and RAM." Of course there are various cognitive processes engaging with input in various ways.

If I'm following, you're suggesting that the distinction being introduced here is between two different set of cognitive processes, one of which (call it A) is understood as somehow more natural or innate or intrinsic to the human mind than the other (call it B), and creative thinking is part of B. And the claim is that Newton relied not only on A, but also (and importantly) on B to invent calculus.

Well, OK. I mean, sure, we can divide cognitive processes up into categories however we wish.

I guess what I'm failing to understand is:
a) what observable traits of cognitive processes sort them into A or B (or both or neither)? Like... is identifying words that rhyme "natural"? Is flirting with someone attractive? Is identifying the number of degrees in the unmeasured angles of an equilateral triangle? How would we answer these questions?
b) what is the benefit of having sorted cognitive processes into these categories?

EDIT: Ah. Okeymaker's most recent comment has helped clarify matters, in that they are no longer talking about natural and unnatural cognitive processes at all, but merely processes underlying "IQ" vs "creative thinking." That I understand.

Comment author: dxu 03 April 2015 03:40:05PM *  0 points [-]

If I'm following, you're suggesting that the distinction being introduced here is between two different set of cognitive processes, one of which (call it A) is understood as somehow more natural or innate or intrinsic to the human mind than the other (call it B), and creative thinking is part of B.

No, I'm not suggesting that. That may be what Okeymaker is suggesting; I'm not quite clear on his/her distinction either. What I was originally addressing, however, was komponisto's assertion that "high IQ" is merely "high processing speed and copious amounts of RAM", which I denied, pointing out that "high processing speed and copious amounts of RAM" alone would surely not have been enough to invent calculus, and that "creative thinking" (whatever that means) is required as well. In essence, I was arguing that "high IQ" should be defined as more than simply "high processing speed and copious amounts of RAM", but should include some tertiary or possibly even quaternary component to account for thinking of the sort Newton must have performed to invent calculus. This suggested definition of IQ seems more reasonable to me; after all, if IQ were simply defined as "high processing speeed and copious amounts of RAM", I doubt researchers would have had so much trouble testing for it. Furthermore, it's difficult to imagine tests like Raven's Progressive Matrices (which are often used in IQ testing) being completed by dint of sheer processing speed and RAM.

Note that the above paragraph contains no mention of the words "natural", "innate", or any synonyms. The distinction between "natural" thinking and "synthetic" (I guess that would be the word? I was trying to find a good antonym for "natural") thinking was not what I was trying to get at with my original comment; indeed, I suspect that the concept of such a distinction may not even be coherent. Furthermore, conditional on such a distinction existing, I would not sort "creative thinking" into the "synthetic" category of thinking; as I noted in my original comment, no one taught Newton the algorithm he used to invent calculus. It was probably opaque even to his own conscious introspection, probably taking the form of a brilliant flash of insight or something like that, after which he just "knew" the answer, without knowing how he "knew". This sort of thinking, I would say, is so obviously spontaneous and untaught that I would not hesitate to classify it as "natural"--if, that is, the concept is indeed coherent.

It sounds as though you may be confused because you have been considering Okeymaker's and my positions to be one and the same. In light of this, I think I should clarify that I simply offered my comment as a potential explanation of what Okeymaker meant by "creative thinking"; no insight was meant to be offered on his/her distinction between "natural" thinking and "synthetic" thinking.

Comment author: komponisto 27 April 2015 07:52:04PM *  0 points [-]

What I was originally addressing, however, was komponisto's assertion that "high IQ" is merely "high processing speed and copious amounts of RAM", which I denied, pointing out that "high processing speed and copious amounts of RAM" alone would surely not have been enough to invent calculus,

This shows that you didn't understand what I was arguing, because you are in fact agreeing with me.

The structure of my argument was:

(1) People say that high IQ is the reason Newton invented calculus.

(2) However, high IQ is just high processing speed and copious amounts of RAM.

(3) High processing speed and copious amounts of RAM don't themselves suffice to invent calculus.

(4) Therefore, "high IQ" is not a good explanation of why Newton invented calculus.

Comment author: dxu 27 April 2015 11:02:37PM *  0 points [-]

I understood what you were saying; I just disagreed with your definition of "high IQ". Put another way: I modus tollens'd your modus ponens.

EDIT: It turns out that Quill_McGee already expressed what I was trying too, and probably better than I could have myself. So yeah--what he/she said.

Comment author: Quill_McGee 27 April 2015 10:37:52PM *  0 points [-]

Whereas, if I am interpreting them correctly, what they are saying is

(1) People say that high IQ is the reason Newton invented calculus.

(2) High processing speed and copious amounts of RAM don't themselves suffice to invent calculus.

(3) Therefore, "High processing speed and copious amounts of RAM" is not a good description of high IQ.

Personally, I'd say that 'high IQ' is probably most useful when just used to refer to whatever it is that enables people to do stuff like invent calculus, and that 'working memory' already suffices for RAM, and that there probably should be a term for 'high processing speed' but I do not know what it is/should be.

EDIT: that is, I think that Newton scored well along some metric which did immensely increase his chances of inventing calculus, which does extend beyond RAM and processing speed, which I would nonetheless refer to as 'high IQ'

tabooing IQ would almost certainly be helpful here.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 03 April 2015 05:34:48PM 0 points [-]

I apologize for being unclear; when I wrote "you're suggesting that the distinction being introduced here" I meant introduced by Okeymaker, whose position is what I was trying to understand in the first place (and I believe I now do), and which I'd assumed (incorrectly) that you were talking about as well.

Comment author: [deleted] 02 April 2015 11:00:53PM *  0 points [-]

deleted, se my other comment in response to your question.