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Dpar comments on Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences) - Less Wrong

110 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 July 2007 10:59PM

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Comment author: Dpar 09 August 2010 06:06:45PM 0 points [-]

I stated that taking the OP's reasoning to its logical conclusion requires one to "evict" all beliefs in everything that one has not, and does not anticipate to, personally see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. RobinZ responded by saying that the OP's point is less strong than I think. Since two (presumably) reasonable people can disagree on what the OP meant, his point, as it is written, is by definition ambiguous.

Where do we go from here other than debate what he really meant? What is the point of such debate since neither of us has any special insight into his thought process that would allow us to settle this difference of subjective interpretations? I believe that to be sufficient reason for stopping the discussion. I'm not sure what specifically Vladimir takes issue with here.

As to your point of human telepathy -- comparing reading what someone wrote to reading his mind is a very big stretch. I can see how you could make that argument if you get really technical with word definitions, but I think that it is generally accepted that reading what a person wrote on a computer screen and reading his mind are two very different things.

DP

Comment author: thomblake 09 August 2010 06:20:15PM 3 points [-]

I stated that taking the OP's reasoning to its logical conclusion requires one to "evict" all beliefs in everything that one has not, and does not anticipate to, personally see, hear, smell, taste, or touch.

Right, but RobinZ was not arguing against this claim (depending on what you mean by 'personally' here) but rather pointing out that your reasoning was flawed.

For instance I don't anticipate that my belief that The Crusades took place will ever directly affect my sensory experiences in any way.

RobinZ pointed out that your belief that the crusades took place affects your sensory experience; if you believe they happened, then you should anticipate having the sensory experience of seeing them in the appropriate place in a history book, if you were to check.

If you thought that your belief that the crusades happened did not imply any such anticipated experiences, then yes, it would be worthless and on the same level as belief in an invisible dragon in your garage.

Comment author: Dpar 09 August 2010 06:32:19PM *  0 points [-]

So reading about something in a book is a sensory experience now? I beg to differ. A sensory experience of The Crusades would be witnessing them first hand. The sensory experience of reading about them is perceiving patterns of ink on a piece of paper.

DP

Edit: Also, I think that RobinZ didn't state that as something that she believed, she stated that as something that she believed the OP meant. It's that subjective interpretation of his position that I didn't want to debate. If you wish to adapt that position as your own and debate its substance, we certainly can.

Comment author: Oligopsony 09 August 2010 06:40:37PM 2 points [-]

What's important isn't the number of degrees of removal, but that the belief's being true corresponds to different expected sensory experiences of any kind at all than its being false. The sensory experience of perceiving patterns of ink on a piece of paper counts.

Now you could say: "reading about the Crusades in history books is strong evidence that 'the Crusades happened' is the current academic consensus," and you could hypothesize that the academic consensus was wrong. This further hypothesis would lead to further expected sensory data - for instance, examining the documents cited by historians and finding that they must have been forgeries, or whatever.

Comment author: Dpar 09 August 2010 07:01:01PM -2 points [-]

If you adapt that position, then the belief in ghosts for instance will result in the sensory experience of reading or hearing about them, no? Can you then point to ANY belief that doesn't result in a sensory experience other than something that you make up yourself out of thin air?

If the concept of sensory experience is to have any meaning at all, you can't just extrapolate it as you see fit. If you can't see, hear, smell, taste, or touch an object directly, you have not had sensory experience with that object. That does not mean that that object does not exist though.

DP

Comment author: Unknowns 09 August 2010 07:11:15PM 2 points [-]

Yes, ghost stories are evidence for the existence of ghosts. Just not very strong evidence.

There can be indirect sensory evidence as well as direct.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 09 August 2010 06:45:13PM 0 points [-]

So reading about something in a book is a sensory experience now? I beg to differ.

You are disputing definitions. Reading something in a book is a sort of thing you'd change expectation about depending on your model of the world, as are any other observations. If your beliefs influence your expectation about observations, they are part of your model of reality. On the other hand, if they don't, they are sometimes too part of your model of reality, but it's a more subtle point.

And returning to your earlier concerns, consider me having a special insight into the intended meaning, and proving counterexample to the impossibility of continuing the discussion. Reading something in a history book definitely counts as anticipated experience.

Comment author: Dpar 09 August 2010 07:10:03PM 1 point [-]

Very interesting read on disputing definitions. While the solution proposed there is very clever and elegant, this particular discussion is complicated by the fact that we're discussing the statements of a person who is not currently participating. Coming up with alternate words to describe our ideas of what "sensory experience" means does nothing to help us understand what he meant by it. Incidentally this is why I didn't want to get drawn into this debate to begin with.

Also -- "consider me having a special insight into the intended meaning" -- on what grounds shall I consider your having such special insight?

Comment author: Cyan 09 August 2010 07:18:59PM 1 point [-]

Also -- "consider me having a special insight into the intended meaning" -- on what grounds shall I consider your having such special insight?

At the bottom of the sidebar at the bottom, you will find a list of top contributors; Vladimir Nesov is on the list.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 09 August 2010 07:19:43PM 1 point [-]

on what grounds shall I consider your having such special insight?

I've closely followed Yudkowsky's work for a while, and have a pretty good model of what he believes on topics he publicly discusses.

Comment author: Dpar 09 August 2010 07:27:49PM 0 points [-]

Fair enough. So if, on your authority, the OP believes that reading about something is anticipated experience, does that not then cover every rumor, fairy tale, and flat out non-sense that has ever been written? What then would be an example of a belief that CANNOT be connected to an "anticipated experience"?

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 09 August 2010 07:32:56PM 2 points [-]

See this comment on the first part of your question and this page on the second (but, again, there are valid beliefs that don't translate into anticipated experience).

Comment author: Dpar 09 August 2010 07:43:06PM 0 points [-]

I agree wholeheartedly that there are valid beliefs that don't translate into anticipated experience. As a matter of fact what's written there was pretty much the exact point that I was trying to make with my very first response in this topic.

Does that not, however, contradict the OP's assertion that "Every guess of belief should begin by flowing to a specific guess of anticipation, and should continue to pay rent in future anticipations. If a belief turns deadbeat, evict it."? That's what I took issue with to begin with.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 09 August 2010 08:05:55PM 1 point [-]

It does contradict that assertion, but not at first approximation, and not in the sense you took the issue with. You have to be very careful if a belief doesn't translate into anticipated experience. Beliefs about historical facts that don't translate into anticipated experience (or don't follow from past experience, that is observations) are usually invalid.