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TheOtherDave comments on Reductionism - Less Wrong

40 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 March 2008 06:26AM

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Comment author: TheOtherDave 04 February 2013 05:38:31PM 2 points [-]

So, the introduction of "automated" to this discussion feels like a complete nonsequitor to me. Can you clarify why you introduce it?

Comment author: whowhowho 04 February 2013 07:49:51PM 0 points [-]

If you have a "systematic" way of "producing" something, (JGWeissman) surely you can automate it.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 04 February 2013 08:21:25PM 0 points [-]

Ah. OK, thanks for clarifying.

Comment author: [deleted] 05 February 2013 05:03:04AM 1 point [-]

I could call a procedure "systematic" even if one of the steps used a human's System 1 as an oracle, in which case it'd be hard to automate that as per Moravec's paradox.

Comment author: whowhowho 05 February 2013 11:07:13AM *  0 points [-]

I would not call such a procedure systematic. Who would? Here's a system for success as an author: first have a brilliant idea...it reads like a joke, doesn't it?

Comment author: [deleted] 05 February 2013 12:32:23PM 1 point [-]

I wasn't thinking of something that extreme; more like the kind of tasks people do on Mechanical Turk.

Comment author: whowhowho 05 February 2013 12:35:06PM -2 points [-]

Is there anything non systematic by that definition? In what way does it promote Bayesianism to call it systematic?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 05 February 2013 04:08:30PM 2 points [-]

Well, I have no idea if it "promotes Bayesianism" or not, but when someone talks to me about a systematic approach to doing something in normal conversation, I understand it to be as opposed to a scattershot/intuitive approach.

For example, if I want to test a piece of software, I can make a list of all the integration points and inputs and key use cases and build a matrix of those lists and build test cases for each cell in that matrix, or I can just construct a bunch of test cases as they occur to me. The former approach is more systematic, even if I can't necessarily automate the test cases.

I realize that your understanding of "systematic" is different from this... if I've understood you, if I can't automate the test cases then this approach is not systematic on your account.

Comment author: whowhowho 05 February 2013 05:46:59PM -1 points [-]

Can there be a scattershot or intuitive scientific method?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 05 February 2013 07:30:55PM 1 point [-]

Well, first of all, we should probably clarify that the original claim was that Bayesian rationality was a systematic way of producing good theories, and therefore presumably was meant to contrast with scattershot or intuitive ways of producing good theories, rather than to contrast with a scattershot or intuitive scientific method... just in case any of our readers lost track of the original question.

But to answer your question... I wouldn't think so, in that an important part of what X needs to have before I'm willing to call X a scientific method is a systematic way of validating and replicating results.

That said, I would say it's possible for a scientific method to embed a scattershot or intuitive approach to producing theories. Indeed, the history of the scientific method as applied by humans has done this pretty ubiquitously.

Comment author: whowhowho 05 February 2013 07:54:06PM *  1 point [-]

Well, first of all, we should probably clarify that the original claim was that Bayesian rationality was a systematic way of producing good theories, and therefore presumably was meant to contrast with scattershot or intuitive ways of producing good theories,

That just makes matters worse. Bayes might systematically allow you judge the relative goodness of various theories, once they have been produced,, but it doesn't help at all in producing them. You can't just crank the handle on Bayes and get relativity

Comment author: [deleted] 05 February 2013 04:39:21PM *  2 points [-]

Is there anything non systematic by that definition?

See TheOtherDave.

In what way does it promote Bayesianism to call it systematic?

See E.T. Jaynes calling certain frequentist techniques “ad-hockeries”. EDIT: BTW, I didn't have Bayesianism in mind when I replied to this ancestor -- I should stop replying to comments without reading their ancestors first.

Comment author: private_messaging 05 February 2013 07:39:15AM *  1 point [-]

It feels like you use 'questions' a lot more than usual, and it looks very much like a rhetorical device because you inject counter points into your questions. Can you clarify why you do it? (see what I did there?)

Sidenote: Actually, questions are often a sneaky rhetorical device - you can modify the statement in the way of your choosing, and then ask questions about that. You see that in political debates all the time.

Comment author: Vaniver 05 February 2013 02:12:43PM 0 points [-]

Agreed that questions can be used in underhanded ways, but this example does seem more helpful at focusing the conversation than something like:

Can you clarify why you added "automated" to the discussion?

That could easily go in other directions; this makes clear that the question is "how did we get from A to B?" while sharing control of the topic change / clarification.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 05 February 2013 03:37:44PM 0 points [-]

Can you clarify why you do it?

Sure, I'd be happy to: because I want answers to those questions.

For example, whowhowho's introduction of "automated" did in fact feel like a nonsequitor to me, and I wanted to understand better why they'd introduced it, to see whether there was some clever reasoning there I'd failed to follow. Their answer to my question clarified that, and I thanked them for the clarification, and we were done.

(see what I did there?)

You asked a question.
I answered it.
It really isn't that complicated.

That said, I suspect from context that you mean to imply that you did something sneaky and rhetorical just then, just as you seem to believe that I do something sneaky and rhetorical when I ask questions.
If that's true, then no, I guess I don't see what you did there.

questions are often a sneaky rhetorical device

Yes. So are statements.