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Comment author: xxd 28 November 2011 11:25:33PM -2 points [-]

And I don't think you got my abstraction. I get perfectly well that the baby eating aliens consider it to be ethical.

And there are indeed plenty of sane humans who vote for killing unborn babies by rationalizing that they are not babies. I'm OK with that because taking emotion out of the picture we don't want to outbreed our food supplies.

That leads however to the uncomfortable logical position of equating murder for resources as the same thing as killing off excess babies in order to limit the population. They are exactly the same thing from a logical standpoint.

And arguing that no sane human would oppose an alien race offering to save from death all starving human children means there is obviously enough food for all of them. It's a straw man argument.

The real argument is this: there isn't enough food. Do we kill some of the children (or grown up children) in order that the remaining food supplies stretch for the smaller population or do we let the children starve.

That situation has come up over and over again in history unless you are wilfully ignorant of the past.

Comment author: Marius 30 November 2011 10:50:59AM 3 points [-]

There is enough food for all starving human children. The existence of starving children has much more to do with corruption than with production.

Comment author: Vaniver 29 November 2011 09:11:07PM *  3 points [-]

The gods are not required to be helpful, especially to the sacrilegious.

Comment author: Marius 29 November 2011 09:31:10PM 1 point [-]

No, but the people who believed in the Greek deities also typically believed those deities were heavily invested in immediate mortal conflicts and highly sensitive to slights. Those Greeks would have expected some protection for the bird or retaliation against Meshullam. Seeing none would provide evidence that the bird was not a favorite of any of their deities.

Comment author: Marius 29 November 2011 06:45:57PM -1 points [-]

"Each question will at least be held at 2 to 1 odds amongst professional philosophers, i.e., if more than 2/3s of professional philosophers agree, we won't bother. So as to not waste our time with small fish."

This is cheating, of course. You are comparing group A to group B on questions specifically selected for their difficulty to group B. Instead, it would be more fair to find open problems in fields that haven't received much attention from professional academic philosophers.

Comment author: Johnicholas 14 June 2011 04:02:07PM 1 point [-]

As I understand it, the scenario is that you're hearing a complicated argument, and you don't fully grok or internalize it. As advised by "Making Your Explicit Reasoning Trustworthy", you have decided not to believe it fully.

The problem comes in the second argument - should you take the advice of the person (or meme) that you at least somewhat mistrust in "correcting" for your mistrust? As you point out, if the person (or the meme) is self-serving, then the original proposal and the correction procedure will fit together neatly to cause a successful mugging.

I think concerns like this suggest that we ought to be using some sort of robust statistics - that is, the direction of the argument and the fact that the conclusion is extreme should influence our conclusions, but the magnitude cannot be allowed to influence our conclusions.

Comment author: Marius 14 June 2011 04:11:58PM 0 points [-]

The person need not even be self-serving. All people respond to incentives, and since publishing popular results is rewarding (in fame; often financially as well) the creators of novel arguments will become more likely to believe those arguments.

Comment author: MixedNuts 14 June 2011 01:51:23PM 2 points [-]

The source is Bostrom's 2004 paper A history of transhumanist thought, page 4. I'll paraphrase the difference he lists:

Transhumanism uses tech to change bodies and minds, Nietzsche uses old pathways.

Yeah, that's his mistake. He points at the right goal, but can't say how to get there. As I said, no real work.

Transhumanism wants to boost everyone, Nietzsche only a select few.

I think that's unfair to Freddy. His Zarathustra puppet goes around telling everyone to do it, but they aren't interested. Obviously he was envisioning individual progress as opposed to inventing tech then distributing it to Muggles, so he thinks that if few people want to put in the effort then few people will get boosted.

Transhumanism likes individual liberties.

I don't understand what Bostrom means by that. AFAICT, Fred is huge on individual liberties.

Transhumanism comes from the Enlightenment.

I fail to see the relevance.

What I got from reading Nietzsche (before I got any exposure to transhumanism) was an extremely pretty way of saying "Striving to improve yourself a lot is awesome". No argument why, no proposed methods, some very sucky assumptions about what it'd be like. Just a cheer, and an invitation for people who share this goal to band together and work on it. Which is what transhumanists have done.

Comment author: Marius 14 June 2011 03:54:46PM 1 point [-]

Nietzsche can't know what the Superman will look like - nobody can. But he provides a great deal of assistance: he is extremely insightful about what people are doing today (well, late 1800s, but still applicable), how that tricks us into behaving and believing in certain ways, and what that means.

But he wrote these insights as poetry. If you wanted an argument spelled out logically or a methodology of scientific inquiry, you picked the wrong philosopher.

Comment author: lukeprog 09 May 2011 03:37:28PM 5 points [-]

Here are some additional predictions from evoutionary psychologists.

Comment author: Marius 09 May 2011 04:14:05PM 2 points [-]

The first two are excellent examples. Thanks!

Comment author: lukeprog 05 May 2011 07:28:24PM *  4 points [-]

knb provides one example here, though I can come back add others later.

Highly relevant is this post from Yudkowsky.

Comment author: Marius 05 May 2011 09:23:16PM 2 points [-]

If Buller is to be believed that's another postdiction. The sort of studies I want to see would compare two groups who aren't known to be distinct. An example: Group A and B evolved in different environments and should display some difference in behavior. They have different rates of intron fragments G and H Now look at apparently-homogenous group X, who do not believe they have A or B ancestry. Compare X with intron G to X with intron H and find the predicted behavior difference.
Do we have studies at that level?

Comment author: knb 05 May 2011 07:22:52PM *  21 points [-]

For those people who claim that evolutionary psychology isn't predictive:

These data show that children living with one genetic parent and one stepparent are roughly forty times more likely to be physically abused than children living with both parents.This greater risk rate occurs even when other factors such as poverty and socioeconomic status are controlled. Daly and Wilson concluded that "step-parenthood per se remains the single most powerful risk factor for child abuse that has yet been identified".... Some people, of course, might claim that such findings are "obvious" or that "anyone could have predicted them." Perhaps so. But the fact remains that hundreds of previous studies of child abuse failed to identify step-parents as a risk factor for child abuse until Daly and Wilson approached the problem with an evolutionary lens.

Buss (2008). Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of Mind (3rd ed.). Prentice Hall. 7. 211-12

And of course, there are many similar examples throughout the book. I literally just opened it to a random page, and found that example.

At some point, the refrain of "Non-predictive! Just-so story! It's a pseudoscience!" starts to look like motivated cognition.

Comment author: Marius 05 May 2011 08:56:49PM 3 points [-]

Buller claims that the statistics come from police reports and that the police had previously been trained to look for stepparents as a source of child abuse. If so, 1 this was well known by nonpsychologists and 2 the magnitude of the effect may be overstated. Is there a problem with this critique?

Comment author: lukeprog 05 May 2011 06:00:13PM 8 points [-]

A huge amount of science operates on postdictions. That's not 'cheating', it's just not as impressive as Einstein predicting gravitational lensing. Just as in other sciences, including evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology uses multiple converging lines of evidence to weigh the probabilities of hypotheses (see, e.g., Buss, The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, pp. 457-465: PDF).

And in fact, evolutionary psychologists often do make novel predictions and then go out and make the observations that either confirm or disconfirm the hypothesis.

I suspect that those who say evolutionary psychology is nothing but 'just so' stories are not actually keeping up with the science but instead are operating under cached thoughts.

Comment author: Marius 05 May 2011 06:14:31PM 5 points [-]

Ok, update my cache: you listed 7 bold postdictions; please list some bold predictions.

Its true that not all science is prospective, but you need to at least avoid looking at the data when making hypotheses you will then test against that data. Often we divide a data set to do this. Its much easier to do this with quantitative hypotheses than qualitative ones.

Comment author: Marius 05 May 2011 05:30:14PM 10 points [-]

It is cheating to make predictions that are actually postdictions. To test hypotheses we have to look at questions for which we don't have information and then test those questions by gathering new information. A lot of the "evolutionary psychology" are really "Just So" stories without this kind of hypothesis testing.

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