# TheOtherDave comments on I Stand by the Sequences - Less Wrong Discussion

13 15 May 2012 10:21AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Sort By: Best

Comment author: 16 May 2012 05:07:25PM 2 points [-]

I agree that "I think the Sequences are wrong about everything" would be an absurdly extreme claim, for the reasons you point out.

We disagree about the extremity of "I think the Sequences are right about everything".

I'm not sure where to go from there, though.

Comment author: 16 May 2012 05:52:14PM 3 points [-]

Suppose you separate the Sequences into "original" and "unoriginal".

The "unoriginal" segment is very likely to be true: agreeing with all of it is fairly straightforward, and disagreeing with all of it is ridiculously extreme.

To a first approximation, we can say that the middle-ground stance on any given point in the "original" statement is uncertainty. That is, accepting that point and rejecting it are equally extreme. If we use the general population for reference, of course, that is nowhere near correct: even considering the possibility that cryonics might work is a fairly extreme stance, for instance.

But taking the approximation at face value tells us that agreeing with every "original" claim, and disagreeing with every "original" claim, are equally extreme positions. If we now add the further stipulation that both positions agree with every "unoriginal" claim, they both move slightly toward the Sequences, but not by much.

So actually (1) "I agree with everything in the sequences" and (2) "Everything true in the Sequences is unoriginal, everything original in them is false" are roughly equally extreme. If anything, we have made an error in favor of (1). On the other hand, (3) "Everything in the Sequences ever is false" is much more extreme because it also rejects the "unoriginal" claims, each of which is almost certainly true.

P.S. If you are like me, you are wondering about what "extreme" means now. To be extremely technical (ha) I am interpreting it as measuring the probability of a position re: Sequences that you expect a reasonable, boundedly-rational person to have. For instance, a post that says "Confirmation bias is a thing" is un-controversial, and you expect that reasonable people will believe it with probability close to 1. A post that says "MWI is obviously true" is controversial, and if you are generous you will say that there is a probability of 0.5 that someone will agree with it. This might be higher or lower for other posts in the "original" category but on the whole the approximation of 0.5 is probably favorable to the person that agrees with everything.

So when I conclude that (1) and (2) are roughly equally extreme, I am saying that a "reasonable person" is roughly equally likely to end up at either one of them. This is an approximation, of course, but they are certainly both closer to each other than they are to (3).

Comment author: 16 May 2012 06:48:12PM 0 points [-]

Yeah, I think I agree with everything here as far as it goes, though I haven't looked at it carefully. I'm not sure originality is as crisp a concept as you want it to be, but I can imagine us both coming up with a list of propositions that we believe captures everything in the Sequences that some reasonable person somewhere might conceivably disagree with, weighted by how reasonable we think a person could be and still disagree with that proposition, and that we'd end up with very similar lists (perhaps with fairly different weights). .