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Jiro comments on Taboo Your Words - Less Wrong

71 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 15 February 2008 10:53PM

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Comment author: Jiro 17 December 2014 10:21:12PM 0 points [-]

They can be dishonest, but they can also be well-meaning but mistaken.

Comment author: TimS 17 December 2014 10:49:11PM 0 points [-]

If the listener is not acting in bad faith and the medium of communication is appropriate, why the resistance to taboo-ing? Or what Nornagest said

Comment author: Jiro 18 December 2014 12:28:11AM *  0 points [-]

Because there are downsides to it as well as upsides, and in a particular case the downsides might predominate. Just because someone is not acting in bad faith when they make the request doesn't mean that the request will do more good than harm.

Comment author: TimS 18 December 2014 01:39:44PM 1 point [-]

Can you be specific? I'm having trouble thinking if situation where trying to communicate was worth the cost, but tabooing words if asked was not.

Comment author: Jiro 18 December 2014 04:57:02PM 0 points [-]

"Trying to communicate is worth the cost" is subjective, so I don't know if I could give an example that would satisfy you. But I would suggest imagining one of the situations where someone is asking it insincerely in order to make it harder for me to speak, then imagine that scenario slightly changed so that the person asking it is sincere.

Comment author: TimS 18 December 2014 05:18:13PM *  0 points [-]


Professor: Let's continue our discussion of sub-atomic particles. Top quarks have a number of interesting properties . . . .
Student: Excuse me professor, could you taboo "atomic?"
Professor: Get out.

In this situation, I think it is clear that the professor is right and the student is wrong. It doesn't matter if (a) the student is a quack who objects to atomic theory, or (b) is asking in good faith for more information on atomic theory. (a) is an example of bad faith. (b) is an example of sincere but not worth the effort - mostly because the topic of conversation is sub-atomic particles, not atomic theory.

I'm just having trouble understanding a situation where (1) question is on topic (ie worth answering) (2) asked sincerely, but (3) not worth tabooing a technical term.

In short, deciding the appropriate topic of conversation is difficult, but beyond the scope of the original article.