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g comments on No One Knows What Science Doesn't Know - Less Wrong

38 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 October 2007 11:47PM

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Comment author: g 29 October 2007 12:41:58PM 1 point [-]

Obviously science doesn't "know" anything in the sense of making it impossible or forbidden to question it. Eliezer wasn't saying it does, and the examples of saying "science doesn't know X" he quoted are ones where people are saying science *has no understanding of* X, when in fact it does. (Even though never a complete or unquestionable one.)

Stamp argues that the mechanisms underlying decoherence aren't fully understood and there's more decoherence going on than we have good models for, and that this might just turn out to indicate that QM needs some revision. OK, fine, I'll take his word for all that. None of it invalidates what Eliezer said, namely that we now know of ways in which almost any interaction with the environment (conscious or not) can produce just the sort of observations that were formerly described in terms of wavefunction collapse due to observation, and that there's therefore no longer any reason to suppose that conscious observation as such produces special effects.

The idea that "decoherence solves the observer problem" would be bad if it resulted in too little effort going into (say) looking at consciousness-centric views of QM. It seems to me (though evidently not to you) that the plausibility of such a view is so low that the small but nonzero amount of such effort we actually have isn't too little.

I've no idea why you say that "no mystery" leads to religion. (Even if you actually mean it the other way around.) The religion that's currently (and has been for ages) most popular is crammed full of mysteries. It might be true that the idea that everything needs an immediate explanation leads to religion (if you can't think why X happens, say "X happens because the gods made it so") but I don't think anyone is advocating such an idea.

In so far as religion (or anything else) gives us statements that we're supposed to believe in ways the evidence doesn't warrant, I *do* have a problem with it. If science, or some people's idea of science, starts doing that, something's wrong and needs fixing, but I don't see that what Eliezer says about "science knows X" has that problem.