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Kaj_Sotala comments on The Third Alternative - Less Wrong

55 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 06 May 2007 11:47PM

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Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 07 May 2007 09:46:53AM 12 points [-]

it does not follow that Santa-ism is the best of all possible alternatives. Other policies could also supply children with a sense of wonder, such as taking them to watch a Space Shuttle launch or supplying them with science fiction novels.

This strikes me as slightly fallacious reasoning, since it's implying that supplying children with science fiction novels and telling them about Santa Claus are mutually exclusive options. If one only wanted to inspire a sense of wonder in children, would the best option not be to tell them about Santa Claus and take them to watch a Space Shuttle launch and supply them with science fiction novels?

I understand your message, but I think Santa Claus is a bad example to illustrate it with. The "but there is a third choice as well" argument only applies if we're talking about an either-or situation, but in this case, your suggested third choices can be just piled on top of the original one.

(If we wanted to attack the Santa Claus argument in particular, it could be pointed out that by the same logic, children should be told presented countless of fairy stories as true ones, up to the point that they'd start getting seriously confused about how the world really works and how it doesn't.)