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Stuart_Armstrong comments on Fake Explanations - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: Stuart_Armstrong 21 August 2007 10:19:12AM 8 points [-]

but that was entirely rational because the professor set them up to believe that.

They were rational, but not unbiased. They wanted to maximise their chances of pleasing the prof., not maximise their chances of understanding the world.

I think this teaching approach was great, and I might use something similar myself (there are mathematical equivalents of the above situation). Learning science means that you have to learn a boatload of facts, and learn the scientific method. Since the boatload of facts has to be accepted without question (for the whole of your early career), this undermines the teaching of the method (when it is taught at all). A few sessions like this (properly exploited by the instructor) would do a world of good.

Comment author: johnlawrenceaspden 27 August 2012 02:22:44PM 4 points [-]

Hmm, the boatload of facts (and the theories behind them) explain a larger boatload of facts that you already know. I found physics and maths very clear and easy and exciting because of this.

Despite my first love in infancy being chemistry, I abandoned it when they wanted me to memorise the colours of the transition metal ions. If they'd told me instead how those colours came about from the quantum theory, and shown me all the pretty colours by actually burning the damned things, instead of turning them into despicable rote work, I might have grown up to be a chemist.