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MrHen comments on An Alien God - Less Wrong

80 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 02 November 2007 06:57AM

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Comment author: MrHen 11 February 2010 07:19:17PM 9 points [-]

The human retina is constructed backward: The light-sensitive cells are at the back, and the nerves emerge from the front and go back through the retina into the brain. Hence the blind spot. To a human engineer, this looks simply stupid - and other organisms have independently evolved retinas the right way around. Why not redesign the retina?

Some of the biggest jaw dropping comments I hear have to do with taking something that is an obvious flaw and bending over backwards to come up with a reason that it isn't flawed. Instead of saying that old elephants starving is cruel and a flaw* they say that there is a deeper purpose or design that can explain away the cruelty.

Instead of calling out a nasty thing for being a nasty thing they try to claim that our understanding is flawed. and the nasty really isn't all that nasty. This is fuzzy enough on topics like retinas and dying elephants to trick people who don't know much about retinas or dying elephants. But what happens if I point at something like Cerebral Palsy and say, "Explain that!"

The typical next step is to add an intelligent Super Nasty that ruined the perfectly nice world. If we keep pushing Explain we delve into huge swaths of arguments about good, evil, gods, and devils but are still left with hospital wards packed full of children inflicted with Cerebral Palsy. At some point, most people push Ignore. And then their child is born with Cerebral Palsy. It is kind of hard to ignore that. When they complain that something nasty happened, someone nearby tells them that there is a deeper purpose or design.

I can understand why people aren't big fans of this.

And... reading back over my comment I forgot to make the point I going to make and made a different one in its stead. Ah well.