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Jiro comments on Fake Explanations - Less Wrong

58 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 20 August 2007 09:13PM

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Comment author: Jiro 18 August 2014 07:29:50PM *  2 points [-]

(Response to old post)

These are students, so they don't have perfect understanding of science. Even if they understand how to calculate what some theories predict, they don't know exactly when to apply those theories or what confounding effects might occur.

So unlike someone with perfect understanding, they don't know with 100% certainty that any specific theory applies. Asking what caused X to happen is really asking "what theory, among the ones you know, has the highest probability of having caused this result".

But even if the result is wrong and no theory actually would lead to that result, the students would grant some non-zero probability that each theory produced that result (since they know they imperfectly understand the theories). There would still be a highest probability. They would then say "conduction" and they would be correct--the probability, given their limited understanding, that conduction produced this result is non-zero and greater than the probability for, say, convection.