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paper-machine comments on Strategic ignorance and plausible deniability - Less Wrong

41 Post author: Kaj_Sotala 10 August 2011 09:30AM

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Comment author: [deleted] 11 August 2011 08:45:55PM 6 points [-]

The maxim is incorrect (or at least overly general to sound deeply wise).

Cultivating ignorance in an adversary or competitor can give you a comparative advantage. A child taking the advice of trained and informed mental health professions that they are not ready to learn about something, say human sexuality, might preserve their emotional development. A person living under a totalitarian regime might do well to avoid sources of classified information, if learning that information makes them a threat to the state. Not telling my friend that their religious literature contains various harmful prescriptions makes sense until I can convince them that the literature is not morally infallible. Not reading the theorems for certain mathematical results increases my future expectation of fun, since I can then derive the results on my own. Privacy is often considered intrinsically valuable. Double-blind experimental procedure is used to filter out cognitive bias. For many more examples of hazardous information and strategic ignorance, see Nick Bostrom's draft paper on the subject here (.pdf).

Comment author: [deleted] 11 August 2011 09:20:22PM *  1 point [-]

Yes, the maxim is overly broad. It is the nature of maxims.

EDIT: I understand where I erred now. In quoting EY, I accidentally claimed more than I thought I was. It's clear to me now that the above factors into two values: minimizing personal delusion, and minimizing other people's delusions. I hold the former, and I'm not as picky about the latter. (E.g., I have no problem refraining from going around disabusing people of their theism.)

I'm concerned that having done this was an ad-hoc justification after reading your laundry list of counter-examples, but I can't unread them, so...