# Manfred comments on Fundamentals of kicking anthropic butt - Less Wrong

17 26 March 2012 06:43AM

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Comment author: 16 April 2012 02:22:54AM *  1 point [-]

The reference class is the collection of things you pretend you could be any one of with equal probability. To specify a reference class (e.g., "humans"), you just need a piece of information ("I am a human").

Comment author: 16 April 2012 03:32:24AM 0 points [-]

But then it depends on the reference class you choose. For example, if you choose "animals" and then update on being a human, you will conclude that a higher proportion of animals are humans than if you choose "humans" to begin with. If you get different results from processing the same information two different ways, at least one of them must be wrong.

Comment author: 16 April 2012 04:47:12AM *  0 points [-]

Right. The trick is that choosing "animals" should be equivalent to having a certain piece of information. To get different reference classes, there has to be something you know that gives you "I'm a human" instead of "I'm a dog! Woof!". If you neglect this, you can (and did) derive contradictory stuff.

Comment author: 16 April 2012 05:18:38PM 0 points [-]

I don't understand. I have the information "I am an animal" and "I am a human". If I start with "I am an animal" and update with "I am a human", I get something different than if I start with "I am a human" and update with "I am an animal". How do I get the correct answer?

It seems to me that you'd have to start with "I am conscious", and then update with everything.

Comment author: 16 April 2012 05:54:52PM 1 point [-]

I don't understand. I have the information "I am an animal" and "I am a human". If I start with "I am an animal" and update with "I am a human", I get something different than if I start with "I am a human" and update with "I am an animal". How do I get the correct answer?

Why do you end up with something different if you update in a different order? If you want a way to get the correct answer, work out why you do that and stop doing it!

Comment author: 16 April 2012 08:36:47PM 0 points [-]

Why do you end up with something different if you update in a different order?

I'd say it's because I should be updating in both cases, rather than starting with "I am an animal" or "I am a human". I should start with "I am conscious", because I can't not be, and then update from there.

I'm trying to show that picking reference classes arbitrarily leads to a contradiction, so SSA, as currently stated, doesn't work. If it does, what other solution is there to that paradox?