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SilasBarta comments on Open Thread June 2010, Part 3 - Less Wrong

6 Post author: Kevin 14 June 2010 06:14AM

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Comment author: SilasBarta 19 June 2010 05:34:05AM *  4 points [-]

Point taken. When forming a troll post, I make the arguments with the lowest ratio of length to "confusions one needs to disentangle in order to refute". I use "isn't evolution still basically just a theory at this point?" because it's a slightly improved variant by that metric.

As with my other response, perhaps I could find the good-rationalist analog of this technique and optimize for that? Perhaps minimize the ratio of argument length to "confusions one needs to detour into to refute"?

I think part of what made me stray from "the path" was a tendency to root for the rhetorical "underdog" and be intrigued -- excessively -- with brilliant arguments that could defend ridiculous positions. I think I can turn that around here.

Comment author: simplicio 19 June 2010 05:55:41AM *  3 points [-]

I think part of what made me stray from "the path" was a tendency to root for the rhetorical "underdog"...

Oh, don't get me wrong, I enjoy arguing for the other side too, provided it's disclaimed afterward. It's a good way to see your rationalization machine shift into high gear. There is always a combination of lies, omissions, half-truths, special pleading and personal anecdotes that can convince at least a few people that you're right - or, MUCH better, that your position should be respected.

But... rationality is usually the rhetorical underdog. Tssk! :P

...and be intrigued -- excessively -- with brilliant arguments that could defend ridiculous positions. I think I can turn that around here.

Want a brilliant argument defending a silly position? Try Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism. To ascend such lofty heights of obfuscation, bring lots of pressurized oxygen.

To wit:

-Evolution optimizes for survival value, not truth value in beliefs

-Beliefs are therefore adaptive but not necessarily true (you could, conceivably, believe that you should run away from a tiger because tigers like friendly footraces).

-Therefore, on naturalism, we should expect the reliability of our cognition to be low

-This means we should, if we accept naturalism, also accept that our cognitive apparatus is too flawed to have good reasons to accept naturalism. QED, atheist.