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thomblake 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: MarsColony_in10years 24 February 2015 10:11:09PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for breaching that topic. I considered pointing out that my "aegffsdfa eereraksrfa" example might be more difficult to pronounce than "post-utopian", and so actually would have an impact on the world in general. On reflection, I decided to make the assertion that it "makes no difference", since that would spare a lot of confusion. It's a good first order approximation. When introducing a topic, it's important to take the Bohr model view of the world before trying to explain quarks and leptons.

The entanglement of semantic language with our interpretation of reality clouds things. Scientific language is precise, but often dry and hard to understand. However, by de-coupling the two worlds, we study the underlying reality without those (or perhaps with only minimal) distorting effects from our language. That's what we are doing when we talk about Map and Territory here on LW. We get a better map from this, but if we also compare the collective maps of societies to the best maps of reality, we can look for systematic differences. Some of these are cognitive biases, which we tend to concentrate on here on LW. However, there are also many other interesting or useful things that we can learn about ourselves as mapmakers. For example, the Bouba/kiki effect might help us choose more intuitive vocabulary as we build a more and more extensive set of jargon.

Just studying the way languages evolve can be informative, whether it's rigorously using Computational Linguistics or informally by an author or artist. The mere existence of a formal scientific understanding of reality allows a poet or philosopher, if they are familiar only with the answers but not the underlying explanations, to look at some facet of human nature and ask "isn't it odd when people...". A great deal of social commentary is built from that one question.