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g_pepper 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: potato 15 June 2011 10:50:22AM *  0 points [-]

Wonderful exposition of versificationism (I meant verificationism lol, but I won't change it cause I like the reply bellow). I do have a question though. You said:

It's tempting to try to eliminate this mistake class by insisting that the only legitimate kind of belief is an anticipation of sensory experience. But the world does, in fact, contain much that is not sensed directly.

Well yes, we don't directly observe atoms (actually we do now but we didn't have to). But it is still save to say that if a belief doesn't make predictions about future sensory experiences it is meaningless, or at least unverifiable. Those predictions may be about the shape of ink squiggles on a piece of paper after some rules are applied, or they may be a prediction about the pattern that a monitor's many pixels will form after reacting to some instrument in an experiment. In either case, the hypothesis is always linked to the world by the senses, or are you claiming something different?

Comment author: gjm 20 June 2011 11:10:07AM 3 points [-]

Wonderful exposition of versificationism.

Versificationism is presumably the doctrine that the truth of a proposition should be evaluated on the basis of how easily it can be expressed in poetic form. Empirically, this seems to favour any number of probably-untrue beliefs, so I'm inclined to reject it. :-)

I have in fact seen something a little like this, in a more sophisticated form, maintained seriously. For instance, here's Dorothy L Sayers (the context is her series of radio plays "The man born to be king"). "From the purely dramatic point of view the theology is a enormously advantageous, because it locks the whole structure into a massive intellectual coherence. It is scarcely possible to build up anything lop-sided, trivial or uinsound on that steely and gigantic framework. [...] there is no more searching test of a theology than to submit it to dramatic handling; nothing so glaringly exposes inconsistencies in a character, a story, or a philosophy as to put it upon the stage and allow it to speak for itself. [...] As I once made a character say in another context: 'Right in art is right in practice'; and I can only affirm that at no point have I yet found artistic truth and theological truth at variance."

And, though I disagree with her entirely on the truth of the sort of theology she's writing about, I think she does actually have a point of sorts. But a professional writer of fiction like Sayers really ought to have known better than to suggest that truth can be distinguished from untruth by seeing how easily each can be formed into art.

Comment author: AspiringRationalist 19 July 2012 08:27:00PM 16 points [-]

A related epistemology that is popular in the business world is PowerPointificationism, which holds that the truth of a proposition should be evaluated by how easily it can be expressed in PowerPoint. Due to the nature of PowerPoint as a means of expression, this epistemology often produces results similar to those of Occam's sand-blaster, which holds that the simplest explanation is the correct one (note that unlike Occam's razor, Occam's sand-blaster does not require that the explanation be consistent with observation).

Comment author: TheOtherDave 19 July 2012 08:56:04PM 5 points [-]

Occam's sand-blaster, which holds that the simplest explanation is the correct one (note that unlike Occam's razor, Occam's sand-blaster does not require that the explanation be consistent with observation).

...and I just spit coffee on my keyboard.

That's marvelous... is that original with you?

Comment author: fubarobfusco 15 September 2012 05:45:14PM 0 points [-]

I take it you're familiar with Edward Tufte's "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint"?