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MrMind comments on Inscrutable Ideas - Less Wrong Discussion

1 Post author: gworley 04 August 2017 08:55PM

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Comment author: TheAncientGeek 09 August 2017 08:02:14AM *  0 points [-]

Your example, in my opinion, disproves your point. Einstein did not simply noticed them: he constructed a coherent explanation that accounted for both the old model and the discrepancies.

I wasn't making a point about meta-rationality versus rationality, I was making a point about noticing-and-putting-on-a-shelf versus noticing-and-taking-seriously. Every Christian has noticed the problem of evil...in the first sense.

the more people have independently access to the phoenomenon, the more confidence I would give to its existence.

You need to distinguish between phenomena (observations, experiences) and explanations. Even something as scientifically respectable as Tegmarks' multiverse, or MWI, isn't supposed to be supported by some unique observation, they are supposed to be better explanations, in terms of simplicity, generality, consilience, and so on, of the same data. MWI has to give the same predictions as CI.

If it's only one person and said person cannot communicate it nor behaves any differently... well I would equate its existence to that of the invisible and intangible dragon.

You also need to distinguish between belief and understanding. Any kind of fundamentally different, new or advanced understanding has to be not completely communicable and comprehensible to the N-1 level, otherwise it would not be fundamentally new. It is somewhere between pointless and impossible to believe in advanced understanding on the basis of faith. Sweepingly rejecting the possibility of advanced understanding proves too much, because PhD maths is advanced understanding compared high school maths, and so on.

You are not being invited to have a faith-like belief in things that are undetectable and incomprehensible to anybody, you are being invited to widen your understanding so that you can see for yourself.

Comment author: MrMind 10 August 2017 09:51:40AM *  1 point [-]

I wasn't making a point about meta-rationality versus rationality, I was making a point about noticing-and-putting-on-a-shelf versus noticing-and-taking-seriously.

Right. Let's say that there are (at least) three levels of noticing a discrepancy in a model:
1 - noticing, shrugging and moving on
2 - noticing and claiming that it's important
3 - noticing, claiming that it's important and create something new about it ('something' can be a new institution, a new model, etc.)

We both agree that LW rationalists are mostly at stage 1. We both agree that meta-rationalsts are at level 2. I also claim that meta-rationalists claim to be at level 3, while they are not.

You need to distinguish between phenomena (observations, experiences) and explanations.

This is also right. But at the same time, I haven't seen any proof that meta-rationalists have offered god as a simplifying hypothesis of some unexplained phoenomenon that wasn't trivial.

Any kind of fundamentally different, new or advanced understanding has to be not completely communicable and comprehensible to the N-1 level, otherwise it would not be fundamentally new.

I think this is our true disagreement. I reject your thesis: there is nothing that is inherently mysterious, not even relatively. I think that any idea is either incoherent, comprehensible or infinitely complex.
Math is an illustration of this classification: it exists exactly at the level of being comprehensible. We see levels because we break down a lot of complexity in stages, so that you manipulate the simpler levels, and when you get used to them, you start with more complex matters. But the entire raison d'etre of mathematics is that everything is reducible to trivial, it just takes hundreds of pages more.
Maybe meta-rationalists have yet to unpack their intuitions: it happens all the time that someone has a genius idea that only later gets unpacked into simpler components. So kudos to the idea of destroying inscrutability (I firmly believe that destroying inscrutability will destroy meta-rationalism), but claiming that something is inherently mysterious... that runs counter epistemic hygiene.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 12 August 2017 12:21:53PM *  0 points [-]

I also claim that meta-rationalists claim to be at level 3, while they are not.

Can you support that? I rather suspect you are confusing new in the historic sense with new-to-rationalists. Bay area rationalism claims to be new, but is in many respects a rehash of old ideas like logical positivism. Likewise, meta rationalism is old, historically.

, I haven't seen any proof that meta-rationalists have offered god as a simplifying hypothesis of some unexplained phoenomenon that wasn't trivial.

Theres a large literature on that sort of subject. Meta rationality is not something Chapman invented a few years ago.

But the entire raison d'etre of mathematics is that everything is reducible to trivial, it just takes hundreds of pages more.

You still have relative inscrutability, because advanced maths isn't scrutable to everybody.

but claiming that something is inherently mysterious...

Nobody said that.

Comment author: ChristianKl 12 August 2017 08:39:20PM 2 points [-]

Bay area rationalism claims to be new, but is in many respects a rehash of old ideas like logical positivism.

I'm not sure that's true. CFAR (as one of the institutions of Bay Area rationalism) puts a lot of value on system I and system II being friends. Even when we just look at rationality!Eliezer, Eliezer argued for the Multiple World Hypothesis in a way that runs counter to logical positivism.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 16 August 2017 10:25:54AM 0 points [-]

My take is that the LP is the official doctrine, and the MWI is an unwitting exception.

Comment author: ChristianKl 17 August 2017 04:00:55AM 1 point [-]

I don't think MWI is an exception to Eliezer's other stated views about epistomology. He isn't naive about epistomology and thinks that the fact that MWI is coherent in some sense is reason to believe in it even when there's no experiment that could be run to prove it.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 17 August 2017 06:04:05PM 0 points [-]

He's naive enough to reinvent LP. And since when was "coherent , therefore true" a precept of his epistemology?

Comment author: MrMind 14 August 2017 10:30:42AM *  0 points [-]

Now I understand that we are talking with two completely different frames of reference.
When I write about meta-rationalists, I'm specifically referring to Chapman and Gworley and the like. You have obviously a much wider tradition in mind, on which I don't necessarily have an opinion. Everything I said needs to be restricted to this much smaller context.

On other points of your answer:
- yes, there are important antecedents, but also important novelties too;
- identification of what you consider to be the relevant corpus of 'old' meta-rationality would be appreciated, mainly of deity as a simplifying nontrivial hypothesis;
- about inherently mysteriousness, it's claimed in the linked post of this page, first paragraph: " I had come to terms with the idea that my thoughts might never be fully explicable".