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LG comments on Typicality and Asymmetrical Similarity - Less Wrong

25 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 06 February 2008 09:20PM

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Comment author: LG 08 February 2008 02:16:00PM 13 points [-]

Cal, the whole point of the post is to introduce the idea of the prototype model versus Aristotelian model of cognition. The stated purpose of the blog is to be at least 50% accessible to the public, and the posts are headed toward amalgamation into a popular book, not a technical book. The point wasn't to rigorously support or defend the prototype model as such -- I would imagine that that has been done in many other places (maybe Eli could post some sources for your research). The point here was to expose it to a larger audience.

In the light of the larger audience, the bird prototype doesn't have to be defined with any particular level of technical accuracy -- robins versus ducks is true a priori; it's accessible to an average reader. It would hurt the overall work to beat that horse, because it's not aimed at a professional, it's not a dissertation, it's an explanation aimed at the lowest common denominator.

My point is that you're missing the point here, Cal. Rip apart falsity here, by all means, but don't think you're the only reader who realizes that it's perfectly plausible that a robin could spread a disease to a duck but not visa versa -- I realize that, and I bet most of the people who read the post also realized that, but it's ridiculous to think that a statistically significant proportion of the population, randomly selected to answer a question like that, would have any knowledge of the specific disease pathways between robins and ducks that would skew the results in any given way. Even if by some magical coincidence, enough people even realized there COULD be different pathways, there is no reason to expect that knowledge to skew the results toward one bird over another, without further explanation. Clearly there is a bias at work. If you don't think the evidence points toward the bias Eli was talking about, then explain why and offer a different hypothesis.

You keep saying we're blind to the errors and biases written here, but I think you don't realize that everyone sees most of what you post, but we choose not to post it, because we don't want to be *pedantic*. We're trying to digest the meat of the information, and we understand who the intended audience is.