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g comments on Affective Death Spirals - Less Wrong

31 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 02 December 2007 04:44PM

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Comment author: g 03 December 2007 10:25:47PM 0 points [-]

But some Great Thingies might not be readily splittable. For instance, consider the whole edifice of theoretical physics, which is a pretty good candidate for a genuinely great Thingy (though not of quite the same type as most of the Great Thingies under discussion here). Each bit makes most sense in the context of the whole structure, and you can only appreciate why a given piece of evidence is evidence for one bit if you have all the other bits available to do the calculations with.

Of course, all this *could* just indicate that the whole edifice of theoretical physics (if taken as anything more than a black box for predicting observations) is a self-referential self-supporting delusion, and in a manner of speaking it's not unlikely that that's so -- i.e., the next major advance in theoretical physics could well overturn all the fundamentals while leaving the empirical consequences almost exactly the same. Be that as it may, much of the value of theoretical physics comes from the fact that it *is* a Great Thingy and not just a collection of Little Thingies, and it seems like it would be a shame to adopt a mode of thinking that prevents us appreciating it as such.