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Screwtape comments on Be secretly wrong - Less Wrong

32 Post author: Benquo 10 December 2016 07:06AM

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Comment author: Screwtape 27 January 2017 04:55:20PM 0 points [-]

I would argue this claim understates the problem. In my experience, claims can be made at one of two levels, either strongly held or weakly held. One cannot perfectly phrase a claim such that nobody confuses one for the other, and other people tend to ignore weakly held claims.

It would be really useful to be able to say "I am moderately confident that the Purple party's policy will lead to Bad Things" and get feedback that raises or lowers my confidence in that claim. Most responses unfortunately will assume that I was more confident than I actually was. (This issue might be summarized as "Screwtape needs to spend less time on facebook.")

Something that might help lower this inhibition is an ability to retract or update on claims usefully. Technically, a blog lets you make a statement and then later edit the post or post an update, but you can't rely on people rereading the post or following your blog to see updates. This might be solved socially (a norm of checking someone still believes a claim before responding to that claim or propagating what they said?) or with technology (rss feeds and edit buttons on posts) but will probably need to be solved with a combination of the two.

Comment author: Benquo 27 January 2017 06:34:28PM *  0 points [-]

More time on non-Facebook venues that you already perceive to be better for this seems like a good partial solution.

Other things you can do are, instead of just focusing on the claim and probability, list what you see as the major considerations each way, and their evidential strength. Sometimes reporting the structure of your beliefs can be additionally helpful.

Specifying what you see as the major considerations will help you and others avoid double-counting evidence or giving arguments that aren't actually relevant (because you already believe them or don't accept their premises).