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Chris_Hibbert 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: Chris_Hibbert 11 August 2007 02:34:34AM 19 points [-]

"I should have paid more attention to that sensation of still feels a little forced."

The force that you would have had to counter was the impetus to be polite. In order to boldly follow your models, you would have had to tell the person on the other end of the chat that you didn't believe his friend. You could have less boldly held your tongue, but that wouldn't have satisfied your drive to understand what was going on. Perhaps a compromise action would have been to point out the unlikelihood, (which you did: "they'd have hauled him off if there was the tiniest chance of serious trouble"), and ask for a report on the eventual outcome.

Given the constraints of politeness, I don't know how you can do better. If you were talking to people who knew you better, and understood your viewpoint on rationality, you might expect to be forgiven for giving your bald assessment of the unlikeliness of the report.

Comment author: bigjeff5 28 January 2011 06:21:55AM 15 points [-]

Not necessarily.

You can assume the paramedics did not follow the proper procedure, and that his friend aught to go to the emergency room himself to verify that he is OK. People do make mistakes.

The paramedics are potentially unreliable as well, though given the litigious nature of our society I would fully expect the paramedics to be extremely reliable in taking people to the emergency room, which would still cast doubt on the friend.

Still, if you want to be polite, just say "if you are concerned, you should go to the emergency room anyway" and keep your doubts about the man's veracity to yourself. No doubt the truth would have come out at that point as well.

Comment author: cidcilver 24 December 2015 09:10:22PM *  0 points [-]

I saw someone on FB reposting this post today.

Makes an interesting point about not doubting your own models in certain circumstances I guess, but the original post leaves out relevant issues of trust and pragmatism.

Sure people probably gullibly believe untrue stories more often than they should, but biases also often cause us to discount anecdotes that are actually representative of real, lived experiences (such as the subtle experiences of those who suffer from racism and sexism). - http://ntrsctn.com/science-tech/2015/12/tech-guys-allies/

Just because a bug is unusual or difficult to locally replicate/experience doesn't mean you should discount the bug reports.

Also (obviously) faith in even medical experts/institutions should be absolute.

Finally there's nothing wrong with offering someone good advice even if you think they may have lied to you/are trolling... there's still a chance they were not trolling, and arming them with good information might be good for them in the short term or long term.

Comment author: Jiro 25 December 2015 01:08:13AM 2 points [-]

That article is written as though "are you sure that was sexism" literally means "you had better prove it is sexism with 100% certainty, or I won't believe you".

That is not what it means. It's not a demand for 100% certainty, it's a demand for better evidence. You don't have to be treating the world like a computer in order to think that you should try to rule out innocent explanations before proclaiming someone guilty.

Also, while the author claims that the standard he quotes makes it impossible to prove sexism, his own standard has the opposite problem: according to it it's impossible to prove anyone innocent of sexism. People don't favor uncertainty over assumption because they're computer geeks; people favor uncertainty over assumption because there are such things as false positives, and they have enough of a cost that avoiding them is worthwhile.