# shminux comments on Problematic Problems for TDT - Less Wrong

34 29 May 2012 03:41PM

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Comment author: 23 May 2012 11:26:16PM *  0 points [-]

You check them using mathematical intuition, and you use them to find better definitions.

Indeed, you use them to find better definitions, which is the first step in formalizing the problem. If you argue whose answer is right before doing so (as opposed, say, to which answer ought to be right once a proper formalization is found), you succumb to lost purposes.

For example, "TDT ought to always make the best decision in a certain class of problems" is a valid purpose, while "TDT fails on a Newcomb's problem with a TDT-aware predictor" is not a well-defined statement until every part of it is formalized.

[EDIT: I'm baffled by the silent downvote of my pleas for formalization.]

Comment author: 24 May 2012 12:53:32AM 1 point [-]

[EDIT: I'm baffled by the silent downvote of my pleas for formalization.]

If I had to guess, I'd say that the downvoters interpret those pleas, especially in the context of some of your other comments, as an oblique way of advocating for certain topics of discussion to simply not be mentioned at all.

Admittedly, I interpret them that way myself, so I may just be projecting my beliefs onto others.

Comment author: 24 May 2012 01:24:28AM 2 points [-]

as an oblique way of advocating for certain topics of discussion to simply not be mentioned at all

Wha...? Thank you for letting me know, though I still have no idea what you might mean, I'd greatly appreciate if you elaborate on that!

Comment author: 24 May 2012 04:54:43AM 7 points [-]

I'm not sure I can add much by elaboration.

My general impression of you(1) is that you consider much of the discussion that takes place here, and much of the thinking of the people who do it, to be kind of a silly waste of time, and that you further see your role here in part as the person who points that fact out to those who for whatever reason have failed to notice it.

Within that context, responding to a comment with a request to formalize it is easy to read as a polite way of expressing "what you just said is uselessly vague. If you are capable of saying something useful, do so, otherwise shut up and leave this subject to the grownups."

And since you aren't consistent about wanting everything to be expressed as a formalism, I assume this is a function of the topic of discussion, because that's the most charitable assumption I can think of.

That said, I reiterate that I have no special knowledge of why you're being downvoted; please don't take me as definitive.

(1) This might be an unfair impression, as I no longer remember what it was that led me to form it.

Comment author: 24 May 2012 02:38:36PM *  3 points [-]

Thank you! I always appreciate candid feedback.

Comment author: 24 May 2012 12:27:58PM 1 point [-]

My general impression of you(1) is that you consider much of the discussion that takes place here, and much of the thinking of the people who do it, to be kind of a silly waste of time, and that you further see your role here in part as the person who points that fact out to those who for whatever reason have failed to notice it.

It's too easy for this to turn into a general counterargument against anything the person says. It may be of benefit to play the ball and not the man.

Comment author: 30 May 2012 03:49:34PM 1 point [-]

Anything the person says? In respect to most things it would be a total non-sequitur.

Comment author: 24 May 2012 12:38:19PM 0 points [-]

Yes, I agree. Perhaps I shouldn't have said anything at all, but, well, he asked.