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RichardKennaway comments on Explain/Worship/Ignore? - Less Wrong

38 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 02 September 2007 08:01PM

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Comment author: RichardKennaway 20 January 2010 10:54:08PM *  3 points [-]

Not joking, but speaking to a specific context, that of discourse whose purpose is to arrive at the truth of things. I can appreciate literary art in its place, but its methods tend to obscure the facts.

"Sky spirits" are not a good metaphor for rain, they are a bad explanation. At some time in the distant past it might have been the only explanation that anyone had come up with, but we know better now. There are no sky spirits and there never were. To teach people falsehoods because they cannot understand the truth does them a disservice. The truth is a rock, and though the rain come down, and the streams rise, and the winds blow and beat against a house builded on that rock, yet it does not fall, because it hath a sound foundation. But to understand things by fictions and myths, is like a foolish man who build his house on sand. The rain shall come down, and the streams rise, and the winds blow and beat against that house, and lo, it falls with a great crash, because it hath no foundation. (Ahem. Metaphor. Shamelessly repurposed from another source.)