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PetoU 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: PetoU 06 November 2016 08:28:21AM 1 point [-]

How is "elan vital" different from, lets say "higgs bozon" in physics ? Both are hypothetical parts of reality, which needs further confirmation, and more detailed description.

Comment author: hairyfigment 06 November 2016 09:14:48AM 0 points [-]

In fact I have no idea what a higgs boson is, but a physicist tells me it makes for a simpler mathematical system used to predict our experience. We can imagine actually getting evidence that would let us make a more detailed description. (I don't know if that's still true in a practical sense, but I believe it used to be true. At worst, all that we lack is energy.)

Meanwhile, "elan vital" makes no predictions except maybe negative ones, and "more detailed description" seems impossible even in principle without special revelation. Unless Eliezer is misreading Kelvin, the esteemed writer actually rules out any such discovery. From an abstract standpoint, the theory can't be expanded if we can't get the evidence to justify more details.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 09 November 2016 12:48:43PM 0 points [-]

Meanwhile, "elan vital" makes no predictions

Elan Vital is a family of theories some of which could be predictive in principle.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 09 November 2016 12:28:32PM 1 point [-]

The Higgs Boson has been confirmed. I suppose the wider point was something on the lines that "all unconfirmed hypotheses should be treated equally". Rationalists typically do not favour a level playing field, and prefer hypotheses that ire in line with broad principles that have been successful in the past -- principles like reductionism, materialism, and , in earlier days determinism.