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Vladimir_Nesov 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: 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.

Comment author: Dpar 09 August 2010 08:17:30PM 0 points [-]

You seem to place a good deal of value on the concept of anticipated experience, but you give it a definition that's so broad that the overwhelming majority of beliefs will meet the criteria. If the belief in ghosts for instance can lead to the anticipated experience of reading about them in a book, what validity does the notion have as a means of evaluating beliefs?

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 09 August 2010 08:25:58PM *  1 point [-]

When a belief (hypothesis) is about reality, it responds to new evidence, or arguments about previously known evidence. It's reasonable to expect that as a result, some beliefs will turn out incorrect, and some certainly correct. Either way it's not a problem: you do learn things about the world as a result, whatever the conclusion. You learn that there are no ghosts, but there are rainbows.

The problem are the beliefs that purport to be speaking about reality, but really don't, and so you become deceived by them. Not being connected to reality through anticipated experience, they take your attention where there is no use for them, influence your decisions for no good reason, and protect themselves by ignoring any knowledge about the world you obtain.

It is a great heuristic to treat any beliefs that don't translate into anticipated experience with utmost suspicion, or even to run away from them in horror.

Comment author: Dpar 09 August 2010 08:47:13PM 0 points [-]

How would you learn that there are no ghosts? You form the belief "there are ghosts" which leads to the anticipated experience (by your definition of such) that "I will read about ghosts in a book", you go and read about ghosts in a book. Criteria met, belief validated. Same goes for UFOs, psychics, astrology etc. What value does the concept of anticipated experience have if it fails to filter out even the most common fallacious beliefs?