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DSimon comments on Applause Lights - Less Wrong

90 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 11 September 2007 06:31PM

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Comment author: DSimon 14 June 2010 03:42:49PM 7 points [-]

(Hi everyone; this is my first time posting here.)

If someone delivered that 100%-applause-light paragraph to me in a speech, my first impulse would be to interpret it as an honest attempt to remind the audience of obvious but not necessarily currently-in-context ideas. For example, this statement from the middle:

"To achieve these goals, we must plan wisely and rationally. We should not act in fear and panic, or give in to technophobia; but neither should we act in blind enthusiasm."

Taken literally as a set of assertions, this really is quite empty of novel or unexpected content. However, directed at an audience of humans, aware of but still vulnerable to cognitive bias, the statement above implies another statement which is more useful: "We should be careful to not act like <group X> who, despite intending not to, panicked rather than thinking productively. We should also be careful to not act like <person Y> whose enthusiasm overwhelmed their necessary sense of caution, even though they knew the value of that caution."

People who agree with the part of the 1st virtue that says "A burning itch to know is higher than a solemn vow to pursue truth" may still sometimes need to be reminded to check themselves and make sure they're doing the former rather than the latter.