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Eliezer_Yudkowsky comments on The Baby-Eating Aliens (1/8) - Less Wrong

42 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 30 January 2009 12:07PM

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Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 31 January 2009 02:02:35AM 3 points [-]

How can I put it? If I were to describe anything that couldn't happen from an evolutionary perspective, that would be cheating. At the same time, I needed baby-eating aliens for my story, so I wrote the bottom line first and then put the 'explanation' on the lines above. Though it's worth noting that cannibalism was the result of group selection in a laboratory environment; see The Tragedy of Group Selectionism. And it's also worth noting that the point I'm using the Babyeaters to make, is one that I happen to actually believe to be true.

There's a point up to which you can question the story and get back plausible-sounding answers that fit with everything that Eliezer Yudkowsky happens to know about evolutionary biology. I actually do think about the sort of questions that get asked here, in the unwritten backdrop of the story. The Babyeaters are, so far as I know, allowed; if I ran into them, I wouldn't point to any particular facet of evolutionary biology and say, "My gosh, this has been falsified!" But there's also a point beyond which the true causal origin of your observations is that Eliezer Yudkowsky wanted baby-eating aliens and then rationalized a plausible-sounding evolutionary history. This is the point at which you invoke the MST3K Mantra.