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anateus comments on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) - Less Wrong

42 Post author: orthonormal 12 August 2010 01:08AM

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Comment author: anateus 13 August 2010 08:15:29PM *  5 points [-]

Have been a long time reader of Overcoming Bias, but haven't gone over to LW after the split.

I've been a rationalist as far back as I can remember, but I really became serious when I was 12. I grew up in Israel, and I was being prepared for my Bar Mitzvah by a Hasidic Rabbi. As Hasidim are prone to do he was telling me some mystical story, wherein he mentioned that the Sun orbits the Earth. I correct him offhand that this must be wrong. He countered with what I now know to be a classic "Have you ever been to space yourself?" followed by the even more classic "Maimonides said so, you're not saying you know better than the Rambam, are you?". I knew so clearly he was wrong, I could explain roughly how it wouldn't really make sense given what we know about gravity, etc., but I couldn't really even convince myself how one might reach that conclusion from scratch. As a 12 year old I vowed to never be in such a position again. (Although my Bar Mitzvah went off flawlessly, I'm now an avowed non-theist in the presence of religious folks, atheist otherwise)

My academic training was in Linguistics and Computer Science, and I'm currently working on a startup in Silicon Valley.

Comment author: cousin_it 15 August 2010 03:14:43PM *  3 points [-]

"Have you ever been to space yourself?"

Ouch. So this is how "but not that particular proof" feels from the other side.

Comment author: anateus 15 August 2010 08:36:18PM 2 points [-]

Very much so. I spent the next 10 minutes twisting myself up in knots: "Astronauts went up in space", etc. Always getting "But you yourself never went in space!". In my 12 year old naivete I replied that the mystical story he was just telling me was not witnessed by him in person. At which point he grabbed some old book that was nearby and mentioned that since it was written there it was true. That's when I knew to give up.

Comment author: simplicio 15 August 2010 03:13:13PM 2 points [-]

"Have you ever been to space yourself?"

Ah, the beloved 'appeal for humility.' It's the gift that keeps on giving...

Welcome! I was in linguistics too, for a while.