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Tom_McCabe2 comments on Categorizing Has Consequences - Less Wrong

25 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 19 February 2008 01:40AM

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Comment author: Tom_McCabe2 19 February 2008 05:01:32AM 3 points [-]

"Or you can see this in terms of the boundless human ability to make stuff up out of thin air and believe it because no one can prove it's wrong."

Suppose that, on a tour of a Mad Scientist's Lab (tm), you see an object apparently floating in midair. You walk around it, and you determine that there are no structural supports, hidden wires, or air currents holding it up. And it's still, say, 1900, well before magnetic levitation and so forth are well known. The two alternatives you've expounded on before are:

- Make up a theory out of thin air and whatever physics knowledge you possess. The theory must, obviously, predict levitation in this instance, but it should also predict a whole bunch of other phenomena, a great deal of which won't be testable. If the theory gains any notoriety, it will probably be hijacked by crackpots in precisely this manner. - Declare the matter a mystery, beyond the ability of present-day science to solve. This runs into the problem of people worshipping sacred mysteries.

Is there another alternative that has a better chance of finding the correct explanation?

Comment author: DanielLC 02 February 2012 05:27:17AM 9 points [-]

Declare the matter a mystery beyond your ability to solve. Find some physicists, and ask them if it's beyond present-day physics. If it is, let them do science. Very little is beyond science. They'll work it out eventually. It might not be present day anymore, but they'll work it out.