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PlaidX comments on The Irrationality Game - Less Wrong

38 Post author: Will_Newsome 03 October 2010 02:43AM

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Comment author: PlaidX 03 October 2010 05:09:52AM *  106 points [-]

Flying saucers are real. They are likely not nuts-and-bolts spacecrafts, but they are actual physical things, the product of a superior science, and under the control of unknown entities. (95%)

Please note that this comment has been upvoted because the members of lesswrong widely DISAGREE with it. See here for details.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 06 October 2010 03:39:53PM 9 points [-]

Now that there's a top comments list, could you maybe edit your comment an add a note to the effect that this was part of The Irrationality Game? No offense, but newcomers that click on Top Comments and see yours as the record holder could make some very premature judgments about the local sanity waterline.

Comment author: wedrifid 06 October 2010 04:11:13PM 3 points [-]

Given that most of the top comments are meta in one way or another it would seem that the 'top comments' list belongs somewhere other than on the front page. Can't we hide the link to it on the wiki somewhere?

Comment author: LukeStebbing 10 October 2010 02:08:17AM 2 points [-]

The majority of the top comments are quite good, and it'd be a shame to lose a prominent link to them.

Jack's open thread test, RobinZ's polling karma balancer, Yvain's subreddit poll, and all top-level comments from The Irrationality Game are the only comments that don't seem to belong, but these are all examples of using the karma system for polling (should not contribute to karma and should not be ranked among normal comments) or, uh, para-karma (should contribute to karma but should not be ranked among normal comments).

Comment author: AngryParsley 03 October 2010 06:16:25AM 4 points [-]

Just to clarify: by "unknown entities" do you mean non-human intelligent beings?

Comment author: PlaidX 03 October 2010 07:09:50AM 1 point [-]

Yes.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 27 December 2011 10:05:22PM 2 points [-]

I would like to announce that I have updated significantly in favor of this after examining the evidence and thinking somewhat carefully for awhile (an important hint is "not nuts-and-bolts"). Props to PlaidX for being quicker than me.

Comment author: Yvain 03 October 2010 10:28:59AM 2 points [-]

I upvoted you because 95% is way high, but I agree with you that it's non-negligible. There's way too much weirdness in some of the cases to be easily explainable by mass hysteria or hoaxes or any of that stuff - and I'm glad you pointed out Fatima, because that was the one that got me thinking, too.

That having been said, I don't know what they are. Best guess is easter eggs in the program that's simulating the universe.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 03 October 2010 09:27:54PM 3 points [-]

Prior before having learned of Fatima, roughly? Best guess at current probability?

Comment author: PlaidX 03 October 2010 08:39:57PM 1 point [-]

I don't think that's a very good guess, but it's as good as any I've seen. I tried to phrase my belief statement to include things like this within its umbrella.

Comment deleted 08 October 2010 07:44:10PM [-]
Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 08 October 2010 07:46:16PM *  4 points [-]

I think "top comments" was an experiment with a negative result, and so should be removed.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 03 October 2010 05:32:15AM 1 point [-]

Voted up, and you've made me really curious. Link or explanation?

Comment author: PlaidX 03 October 2010 06:16:20AM *  4 points [-]

This is what spurred me to give consideration to the idea initially, but what makes me confident is sifting through simply mountains of reports. To get an idea of the volume and typical content, here's a catalog of vehicle interference cases in Australia from 1958 to 2004. Most could be explained by a patchwork of mistakes and coincidences, some require more elaborate, "insanity or hoax" explanations, and if there are multiple witnesses, insanity falls away too. But there is no pattern that separates witnesses into a "hoax" and a "mistake" group, or even that separates them from the general population.

Comment author: erratio 03 October 2010 06:41:03AM 9 points [-]

If there are mutliple witnesses who can see each others reactions, it's a good candidate for mass hysteria

Comment author: Will_Newsome 03 October 2010 06:30:46AM *  5 points [-]

I couldn't really understand the blog post: his theory is that there are terrestrial but nonhuman entities that like to impress the religious? But the vehicle interference cases you reference are generally not religious in nature, and are extremely varying in the actual form of the craft seen (some are red and blue, some are series of lights). What possible motivations for the entities could there be? Most agents with such advanced technology will aim to efficiently optimize for their preferences. If this is what optimizing for their preferences looks like, they have some very improbably odd preferences.

Comment author: Yvain 03 October 2010 10:38:53AM 19 points [-]

To be fair to the aliens, the actions of Westerners probably seem equally weird to Sentinel Islanders. Coming every couple of years in giant ships or helicopters to watch them from afar, and then occasionally sneaking into abandoned houses and leaving gifts?

Comment author: JohannesDahlstrom 03 October 2010 08:20:17PM 2 points [-]

That was a fascinating article. Thank you.

Comment author: PlaidX 03 October 2010 06:58:54AM 3 points [-]

I agree with you entirely, and this is a great source of puzzlement to me, and to basically every serious investigator. They hide in the shadows with flashing lights. What could they want from us that they couldn't do for themselves, and if they wanted to influence us without detection, shouldn't it be within their power to do it COMPLETELY without detection?

I have no answers to these questions.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 03 October 2010 03:45:31PM 3 points [-]

That's assuming that what's going on is that entities who are essentially based on the same lawful universe as we are are running circles around humans. If what's going on is instead something like a weird universe, where reality makes sense most of the time, but not always, I imagine you might get something that looks a lot like some of the reported weirdness. Transient entities that don't make sense leaking through the seams, never quite leaving the causal trail which would incontrovertibly point to their existence.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 27 December 2011 10:09:55PM 1 point [-]

If I'd asked the above questions honestly rather than semi-rhetorically I may have figured a few things out a lot sooner than I did. I might be being uncharitable to myself, especially as I did eventually ask them honestly, but the point still stands I think.

Comment author: wedrifid 05 October 2010 05:30:23AM 0 points [-]

64 points! This is the highest voted comment that I can remember seeing. (A few posts have gone higher). Can anyone remember another, higher voted example?

Comment author: RichardKennaway 05 October 2010 07:45:52AM 1 point [-]

But the rules are different in this thread. 64 here means that 64 more voters disagree than agree.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 05 October 2010 08:54:48AM 1 point [-]

Tell that to the out-of-context list of all LW comments sorted by rating!

Comment author: wedrifid 05 October 2010 10:02:55AM 3 points [-]

Hang on, we have one of those?

Comment author: Jonathan_Graehl 03 October 2010 07:07:21AM 0 points [-]

I'd like to know what your prior is for the disjunction "unknown entities control saucers that ambiguously reveal themselves to a minority of people on Earth, for some purpose". While I'm sure you've looked more closely at the evidence than I have, I presume your prior for that disjunction must be much higher than mine to even look closely.

Comment author: PlaidX 03 October 2010 07:22:44AM 1 point [-]

It certainly wasn't high... I went through most of my life never giving the idea a thought, stumbled onto the miracle of fatima one day, and said "well, clearly this wasn't a flying saucer, but what the heck was it?"

But the rabbit hole just kept going down. It is not a particularly pleasant feeling to me, as someone who used to think he had a fairly solid grip on the workings of the world.

Comment author: Perplexed 03 October 2010 06:35:59PM 0 points [-]

tumbled onto the miracle of Fatima one day, and said "well, clearly this wasn't a flying saucer, but what the heck was it?

The sun, seen through moving clouds. Just exactly what it is described as being.

Comment author: PlaidX 03 October 2010 08:22:23PM *  5 points [-]

Here is one of many detailed accounts, this one is from Dr. José Maria de Almeida Garrett, professor at the Faculty of Sciences of Coimbra, Portugal

I was looking at the place of the apparitions, in a serene, if cold, expectation of something happening, and with diminishing curiosity, because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention. Then I heard a shout from thousands of voices and saw the multitude suddenly turn its back and shoulders away from the point toward which up to now it had directed its attention, and turn to look at the sky on the opposite side.

It must have been nearly two o'clock by the legal time, and about midday by the sun. The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds which hid it, and shone clearly and intensely. I veered to the magnet which seemed to be drawing all eyes, and saw it as a disc with a clean-cut rim, luminous and shining, but which did not hurt the eyes. I do not agree with the comparison which I have heard made in Fatima---that of a dull silver disc. It was a clearer, richer, brighter colour, having something of the luster of a pearl. It did not in the least resemble the moon on a clear night because one saw it and felt it to be a living body. It was not spheric like the moon, nor did it have the same colour, tone, or shading. It looked like a glazed wheel made of mother-of-pearl. It could not be confused, either, with the sun seen through fog (for there was no fog at the time), because it was not opaque, diffused or veiled. In Fatima it gave light and heat and appeared clear-cut with a well-defined rim.

The sky was mottled with light cirrus clouds with the blue coming through here and there, but sometimes the sun stood out in patches of clear sky. The clouds passed from west to east and did not obscure the light of the sun, giving the impression of passing behind it, though sometimes these flecks of white took on tones of pink or diaphanous blue as they passed before the sun.

It was a remarkable fact that one could fix one's eyes on this brazier of heat and light without any pain in the eyes or blinding of the retina. The phenomenon, except for two interruptions when the sun seemed to send out rays of refulgent heat which obliged us to look away, must have lasted about ten minutes.

The sun's disc did not remain immobile. This was not the sparkling of a, heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl. Then, suddenly, one heard a clamour, a cry of anguish breaking from all the people. The sun, whirling wildly, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge and fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was terrible.

During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described in detail, there were changes of colour in the atmosphere. Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything around was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything an amethyst colour. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same colour. An oak tree nearby threw a shadow of this colour on the ground.

Fearing that I was suffering from an affection of the retina, an improbable explanation because in that case one could not see things purple-colored, I turned away and shut my eyes, keeping my hands before them to intercept the light. With my back still turned, I opened my eyes and saw that the landscape was the same purple colour as before.

The impression was not that of an eclipse, and while looking at the sun I noticed that the atmosphere had cleared. Soon after I heard a peasant who was near me shout out in tones of astonishment: "Look, that lady is all yellow!"

And in fact everything, both near and far, had changed, taking on the colour of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice, and I recall a sensation of amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. My own hand was the same colour. All the phenomena which I have described were observed by me in a calm and serene state of mind, and without any emotional disturbance. It is for others to interpret and explain them.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 03 October 2010 07:35:23AM 0 points [-]

Do you think you guess numerically what your prior probability was before learning of the Miracle of Fatima?

Comment author: PlaidX 03 October 2010 08:01:11AM *  2 points [-]

Mmm, < .01%, it wasn't something I would've dignified with enough thought to give a number. Even as a kid, although I liked the idea of aliens, stereotypical flying saucer little green men stuff struck me as facile and absurd. A failure of the imagination as to how alien aliens would really be.

In hindsight I had not considered that their outward appearance and behavior could simply be a front, but even then my estimate would've been very low, and justifiably, I think.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 03 October 2010 09:31:17PM 1 point [-]

Probably ~15% (learning about Fatima didn't change it much by the way). Basically because I can't think of a good reason why this should have an extremely low prior.

Comment author: CronoDAS 08 October 2010 08:13:04PM *  -2 points [-]

And do you believe in Santa Claus, too? :P