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Vaniver comments on Your Strength as a Rationalist - Less Wrong

69 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 11 August 2007 12:21AM

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Comment author: Vaniver 04 April 2013 11:13:06PM *  1 point [-]

There are two modes of reasoning that are useful that I'd like to briefly discuss: inside view, and outside view.

Inside view uses models with small reach / high specificity. Outside view uses models with large reach / high generality. Inside view arguments are typically easier to articulate, and thus often more convincing, but there are often many reasons to prefer outside view arguments. (Generally speaking, there are classes of decisions where inside view estimates are likely to be systematically biased, and so using the outside view is better.)

When wondering whether to switch an answer, the inside view recommends estimating which answer is better. The outside view recommends looking at the situation you're in- "when people have switched answers in the past, has it generally helped or hurt?".

There are times when switching leads to the better result. But the trouble is that you need to know that ahead of time- and so, as you suggest, there may be reasons to switch that you can identify as strong reasons. But the decision whether to apply the inside or outside view (or whether you collect enough data to increase the specificity of your outside view approach) is itself a decision you have to make correctly, which you probably want to use the outside view to track, rather than just trusting your internal assessment at the time.