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Davidmanheim comments on Scientific Self-Help: The State of Our Knowledge - Less Wrong

138 Post author: lukeprog 20 January 2011 08:44PM

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Comment author: Davidmanheim 21 January 2011 04:04:41PM 1 point [-]

I have to disagree with the principle, even if the conclusion is correct. I could argue similarly that atheists denounce god because it's a successful paradigm, and therefore threatening, and so it must be true.

Comment author: shokwave 21 January 2011 04:10:07PM *  1 point [-]

God paradigms are not related to evolutionary fitness the way pick-up artistry is. Atheists do not denounce God because it is a successful paradigm (they denounce it because it's wrong, its popularity or success only determines the scale or intensity of denouncement). "And so it must be true" is not a correct paraphrase of "weak evidence that it works".

You could argue it. You couldn't win the argument.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 21 January 2011 04:50:53PM 6 points [-]

I have to side with davidmanheim here.

You asserted your prior belief that denunciation is a social act of reducing the status of things viewed as more successful, and therefore concluded that people's denunciation of PUA is "weak evidence" that it works.

As I can tell the implicit reasoning goes "People denounce things they see as successful; people denounce X; therefore people probably see X as successful; things people see as successful probably work; therefore X probably works."

The same line of reasoning can apply to any X that people denounce. Davidmanheim applied it to religion, which is denounced by atheists.

Your reply was that religion is different, because religion also belongs to the class of wrong beliefs. But that doesn't mean your earlier argument doesn't apply, it merely means that other arguments apply as well. If your argument is evidence for PUA, it's evidence for any denounced X.

As you said initially, it's weak evidence. I agree. In fact, I'd say it's negligible evidence, in both cases.

Comment author: shokwave 22 January 2011 07:19:40AM 1 point [-]

"People denounce things they see as successful"

This was not part of my reasoning. It was specifically an evo-psych-style argument; people denounce things they see as increasing the evolutionary fitness of an opponent. The principle in question is Kill the status of anyone more successful than you, which is also why creationists trying to make science look bad (instead of finding evidence for their beliefs) is weak evidence that science more successful at explaining the world, and in full generality it is the principle behind ad hominem attacks.