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TheOtherDave comments on Generalizing From One Example - Less Wrong

261 Post author: Yvain 28 April 2009 10:00PM

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Comment author: TheOtherDave 21 January 2012 07:30:36PM 2 points [-]

That doesn't make it an invalid question. There are tall women and short women, and there are tall men and short men, but asking whether women as a class are taller than men is a perfectly valid question, made no less so by my not happening to know the answer.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 21 January 2012 10:28:22PM 4 points [-]

Sure, it's a valid question, but an ambiguous one. It isn't at all clear that the only right way to answer "Are class X taller than class Y?" is to compare the mean height of members of X and Y. There are other metrics — for certain purposes, you might want to compare the maxima, the 95th percentiles, or the medians. Depending on why you're asking the question, any of these (or others) could be the right answer to comparing populations.

Comment author: CuSithBell 21 January 2012 07:38:52PM 0 points [-]

Outside of the airy realms of theory, though, the question probably translates to something like "which gender should be solely allowed to pick apples, and which should be solely allowed to dig potatoes?"

(Or, perhaps more likely, "which one is the Bad Gender?")

Comment author: Swimmer963 21 January 2012 07:52:07PM -1 points [-]

I agree with your immediate point: however, height is something which is easily measurable and easily compared between both sexes. I don't know if there's a quality of books and video games which is equally easy to measure and compare. Reading books teaches kids to be better at reading (and probably writing too, or at least it did so for me), and exposes them to a range of ideas, concepts, and role model characters. Some books are well written, some badly written...some characters are useful role models for children, others aren't. As for video games, I've been told that they improve information processing and reaction times. In fact, my taekwondo instructor says that likely one of the reasons I'm slow is because I never played video games as a kid. Different people have told me that video games encourage creative and out-of-the-box thinking. These are all good things, and books don't have an effect on them, I would assume.

I guess, in theory, you could ask "are children raised solely on books better adapted and more successful than children raised solely on video games"? Still, 'success' is such a broad category and depends on so many factors that I don't know if the answer could be measured even in theory.