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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 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: TheOtherDave 05 February 2013 08:53:05PM *  1 point [-]

I'm not sure what you mean by "worse" here.
To my mind, challenging the original claim as false is far superior to failing to engage with it altogether, since it can lead to progress.

In that vein, perhaps it would help if you returned to JGWeissman's original comment and ask them to clarify what makes Bayesian rationality "a systematic way of producing good theories," so you can either learn from or correct them on the question.