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Perplexed comments on The Virtue of Narrowness - Less Wrong

56 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 07 August 2007 05:57PM

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Comment author: Perplexed 23 July 2010 12:49:04AM 9 points [-]

I think I agree with you, majus.

I would add as a counter-example that the problem of explaining mankind's nature and origin becomes solvable when the problem is extended to the problem of explaining the nature and origin of every species in the biosphere. The problem of explaining Mary's illness may become easier if it is broadened to the problem of explaining the illness of the 20 people who became sick immediately after the company picnic.

To my mind narrowness should not be called a virtue. Instead we have the tactic or heuristic of narrowing, which is frequently successful. But a skilled pedagogue will present this tactic paired with the tactic of broadening, which is also frequently successful. The trick, of course is to choose the right tactic. Or perhaps to know when to switch tactics when the originally chosen one isn't working.