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Tom_James comments on The Virtue of Narrowness - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: Tom_James 11 February 2009 03:13:06PM 0 points [-]

A very good article.

The topic here - the virtues of specificity - is compelling because so much contemporary discourse is conducted through analogy and metaphor.

The devil is in the details and those crucial details are lost in discussions that focus on words where common and specific definitions are not set out clearly at the beginning of the debate.

Although general analogies are a useful way of understanding a new concept, true understanding can only come specificity, as you say.

That said there is still value to looking at the bigger picture. The best thinkers combine several areas of deep expertise with a much greater range of general knowledge.

So I guess it's worth knowing a little about a lot and a lot about a little.

ALSO: At the risk of completely going against the advice of this article, is your statement here a similar idea to Popperian empiricism {you can only ever prove a theory to be false}:

"When you understand things in detail, you can see how they are not alike, and start enthusiastically subtracting edges off your graph."

So subtracting edges off the graph entails falsifying the hypothesis that there is a connection between two nodes...

...or am I just generalising here? ;)