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raptortech97 comments on Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions - Less Wrong

71 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 August 2007 10:27PM

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Comment author: raptortech97 12 April 2012 01:44:04AM 0 points [-]

What would you have had these biologists use instead? Would you prefer they had no model? It seems clear to me, though I may be wrong, that these scientists had a model (elan vital), and when later evidence came along (modern biology?), they discarded it in favor of a different model. Would you have them instead have picked a different model in the first place? Or have no model at all?

Comment author: DSimon 12 April 2012 01:58:40AM 0 points [-]

Well, if by "no model" you mean something like the contemporary folk model of biology ("Blood is what keeps you alive, we're not quite sure how though, but in general try not to lose your blood"), then elan vital is definitely worse, in that it (a) adds no new information but (b) sounds wiser, and therefore harder to unseat.

Comment author: Vaniver 12 April 2012 02:24:18AM 3 points [-]

the contemporary folk model of biology ("Blood is what keeps you alive, we're not quite sure how though, but in general try not to lose your blood"),

This sounds sensible, though it should be mentioned that bloodletting (hm, there's clearly too much blood here) seems like a candidate for folk biology as well.

(I once had a small, dark bruise underneath a partially healed cut- so it looked like there was this black thing inside my finger, though I was reasonably confident it was just a pool of blood. The urge to cut it open and drain it was unbelievably strong, and I had to put a bandaid on it just so that I couldn't look at it. After that I had a lot more sympathy for people who thought bloodletting was a sensible treatment. I suspect that particular incident was an anti-parasite impulse which mistakenly pattern-matched the pool, and I imagine most bloodletting was inspired by "you're way redder than is healthy- let's fix that!".)

Comment author: raptortech97 20 April 2012 10:00:37PM 0 points [-]

Are you suggesting that we apply a punishment to any theory that sounds wise? Or that we apply a punishment only for those that also satisfy (a)?

Comment author: DSimon 20 April 2012 10:36:35PM 0 points [-]

Well, ideally we ignore b and focus only on a. B only matters in the context of being a more virulent meme.

Comment author: pnrjulius 29 May 2012 03:57:11AM *  0 points [-]

It may make sense to apply some penalty to the logodds of "profound ideas", to compensate for the bias.

Likewise, maybe we should assume that beautiful people are stupid to compensate for the halo effect---though that one is a bit trickier, because IQ actually is correlated with attractiveness, just not as strongly as people tend to assume.

Comment author: pnrjulius 29 May 2012 03:55:05AM 1 point [-]

Having no model can be good, if it inspires you to search for a good model. Far worse to think you have a model when you actually don't.