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prase comments on Understanding your understanding - Less Wrong

69 Post author: SilasBarta 22 March 2010 10:33PM

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Comment author: prase 23 March 2010 12:21:53PM *  2 points [-]

There is a far way from using correct methods to actually discovering something important. There are almost infinitely many ways you can apply the methods, so you have to know where to look to find out the desired answers. Also, "given enough time & persistence" is a phrase which can very easily be misleading. You are certainly not in phase 3 if you needed 10^15 years to discover the relevant fact.

To be in stage 3 with general relativity, to take a particular example, you have to be in the state that after it being deleted from your head, given a question "how to reconcile Lorentz transformations and gravity", it would instantly appear to you that the solution has something to do with curved spacetime and general covariance. You needn't to know how the solution looks like at the first moment, but the rederivation should appear to you as the most natural chain of inductions, without stopping at crossroads and randomly (or systematically) checking all possible ways forward, albeit using scientific method.

After all, there were lots of people in 1910s who knew the scientific method and all available data, but only one has discovered general relativity, and only few others, if anybody, were even close.