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Comment author: RobbBB 07 January 2013 08:03:50AM *  2 points [-]

The surface problem isn't that naive evolutionists think humans descended from (time-traveling?) extant monkeys. The surface problem is that they don't understand the difference between apes and monkeys, even though this is very easy to understand; and they don't understand that there has never been a common ancestor of all and only the monkeys, or that the common ancestor of monkeys and apes was neither a monkey nor an ape.

But these are all, as you rightly note, nitpicky taxonomic details. Given the folk-blurriness between 'ape' and 'monkey,' and closely related groups, it's not a particularly serious error to misidentify the common ancestor of humans and monkeys as a monkey (or as an ape). The deep problem here is not an error of fact, but an error of strategy; the ignorance of the evolutionist is not only weakening his/her case should the creationist spend 5 minutes on Google, but also is causing him/her to sacrifice a prime teaching moment. This common misconception about monkeys/apes is a fantastic opportunity to correct a misconception (thus undermining the creationist's easy confidence in the most frequent soundbites) and springboard into an explanation of what evolution actually is, of the mechanisms and scope of common descent.

There's also the very closely related error of presuming that evolution is 'directional,' thus that humans are 'more advanced' than their cousins, who have 'evolved less' and thus surely resemble the common ancestor more. In most respects and in most cases, this is misleading.

Comment author: MC_Escherichia 24 October 2016 11:12:41PM *  0 points [-]

and they don't understand that there has never been a common ancestor of all and only the monkeys

This fact though -- that monkeys are paraphyletic -- argues in favour of (not against) the view that the common ancestor of monkeys and apes was itself monkey-like...

If you think about when the "ape traits" must have evolved, it would be after the new-world monkeys had already diverged away. The common ancestor of monkeys and apes wouldn't have had them, but must have had those traits common to both old and new-world monkeys. It itself has to be basically a monkey.

(I drew out a phylogenetic tree for this but couldn't get it to format, alas...)

Comment author: gwillen 18 February 2015 05:39:56PM 13 points [-]

That's interesting! I got the same answer but I visualized it differently. (Imagine, for each possible subpattern, i.e. "plus shape" or "dots", considering which items it appears in. In each case the answer is four, forming a rectangle. Two of the rectangles should extend into the ninth item, the one we're looking for.)

Comment author: MC_Escherichia 18 February 2015 06:36:05PM *  1 point [-]

That's also interesting... I think the two ways of looking at it are equivalent, i.e. any pattern that satisfies one should also satisfy the other. (Only because the XOR pattern works both vertically and horizontally.)

Comment author: MC_Escherichia 04 November 2013 11:18:42PM 0 points [-]

The enemy of the enemy of my enemy is my enemy.

Harrap's First Law

Comment author: Kindly 23 July 2013 06:31:45PM 6 points [-]

In fact, a book has already been written describing hell very similarly. But even in that book, there were three people. And cushions.

Comment author: MC_Escherichia 24 July 2013 02:13:21AM 1 point [-]

What book?

Comment author: Vaniver 13 October 2012 03:58:20AM *  10 points [-]

The point Eliezer is addressing is the one that RichardKennaway brought up separately. Causal models can still function with feedback (in Causality, Pearl works through an economic model where price and quantity both cause each other, and have their own independent causes), but it's a bit more bothersome.

A model where the three are one-time events- like, say, whether a person has a particular gene, whether or not they were breastfed, and their height as an adult- won't have the problem of being cyclic, but will have the pedagogical problem that the causation is obvious from the timing of the events.

One could have, say, the weather witch's prediction of whether or not there will be rain, whether or not you brought an umbrella with you, and whether or not it rained. Aside from learning, this will be an acyclic system that has a number of plausible underlying causal diagrams (with the presence of the witch making the example clearly fictional and muddying our causal intuitions, so we can only rely on the math).

In my opinion, the best fix would be to steelman the argument as much as possible.

The concept of inferential distance suggests to me that posts should try and make their pathways as short and straight as possible. Why write a double-length post that explains both causal models and metabolism, when you could write a single-length post that explains only causal models? (And, if metabolism takes longer to discuss than causal models, the post will mostly be about the illustrative detour, not the concept itself!)

Comment author: MC_Escherichia 14 October 2012 08:55:12PM 2 points [-]

won't have the problem of being acyclic

Should that be "cyclic"? I take it from Richard's post that "acyclic" is what we want.

Comment author: FeepingCreature 12 February 2012 03:10:54PM *  0 points [-]

Psi doesn't even explain consciousness or qualia.

[edit] Oops, necro. Disregard me.

[edit edit] okay! nevermind that then :D

Comment author: MC_Escherichia 12 February 2012 03:19:14PM 2 points [-]

I don't think there's a prejudice against replying to old posts around here...

Comment author: MC_Escherichia 19 January 2012 09:20:49PM 35 points [-]

As an aside; the use of "Org" (i.e. Rationality Org) seems really unusual and immediately makes me think of Scientology (Sea Org); am I unusual in having this reaction?

Comment author: Elias_Kunnas 06 April 2011 06:39:33PM 4 points [-]

I posted this originally in the discussion section but deleted it since JGWeissman suggested that the meetup post be in the front page. Sark reposted this since I haven't been posting almost anything on LW, I didn't have enough karma to put the post on the front page.

To reiterate, I will be there and sark will almost certainly be there.

Comment author: MC_Escherichia 06 April 2011 10:32:03PM *  1 point [-]

I might come, though there's a conflicting Starcraft 2 tournament...

[Edit] But since I failed to qualify in a satelite tournament, I shall attend the LW meeting.

Comment author: MC_Escherichia 25 March 2011 11:20:53PM -2 points [-]

I've noticed lately a lot of websites seem to use some bizarre font that looks awful. But since they keep doing it, I'm beginning to wonder if it's just me that sees it looking awful. Does it look like this for anyone else?


Comment author: shokwave 01 February 2011 09:54:21AM 1 point [-]

Either the answer is even in every possible world, or it is odd in every possible world.

Which is the case? What do you do if you're uncertain about which is the case?

Comment author: MC_Escherichia 01 February 2011 10:33:01AM *  0 points [-]

Which is the case?

Your initial read off your calculator tells you with 99% certainty.

Now Omega comes in and asks you to consider the opposite case. It matters how Omega decided what to say to you. If Omega was always going to contradict your calculator, then what Omega says offers no new information. But if Omega essentially had its own calculator, and was always going to tell you the result even if it didn't contradict yours, then the probabilities become 50%.

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