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Comment author: pepe_prime 13 September 2017 01:20:21PM 10 points [-]

[Survey Taken Thread]

By ancient tradition, if you take the survey you may comment saying you have done so here, and people will upvote you and you will get karma.

Let's make these comments a reply to this post. That way we continue the tradition, but keep the discussion a bit cleaner.

Comment author: SoerenE 14 September 2017 01:08:51PM 20 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 11 July 2017 03:17:14PM 1 point [-]

Something you are not taking into account is that Chapman was born a lot later, Any undergraduate physicist can tell you where Newton went wrong.

Comment author: SoerenE 11 July 2017 07:22:20PM 0 points [-]

I think difference in date of birth (1922 vs ~1960) is less important than difference of date of publication (2003 vs ~2015).

On the Outside View, is criticism 12 years after publication more likely to be valid than criticism levelled immediately? I do not know. On one hand, science generally improves over time. On the other hand, if a particular work get the first criticism after many years, it could mean that the work is of higher quality.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 11 July 2017 09:52:33AM 1 point [-]

As far as I can tell, E. T. Jaynes is generally very highly regarded, and the only person who is critical of his book is David Chapman.

Chapman doesn't criticise Jaynes directly, he criticises what he calls Pop Bayesianism.

Comment author: SoerenE 11 July 2017 12:37:22PM *  0 points [-]

I should clarify that I am referring to the section David Chapman calls: "Historical appendix: Where did the confusion come from?". I read it as a criticism of both Jaynes and his book.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 11 July 2017 09:55:38AM 1 point [-]

I do not know enough about logic to be able to evaluate the argument.

Chapman's argument? Do you know enough logic to understand Yudkowsky's arguemtn, then?

Comment author: SoerenE 11 July 2017 12:10:28PM 0 points [-]

No, I do know what Yudkowsky's argument is. Truth be told, I probably would be able to evaluate the arguments, but I have not considered it important. Should I look into it?

I care about whether "The Outside View" works as a technique for evaluating such controversies.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 10 July 2017 09:31:22PM 1 point [-]

I can't link to a criticism that makes the same points as Chapman, but my favourite criticism of Jaynes is the paper "Jaynes's maximum entropy prescription and probability theory" by Friedman and Shimony, criticising the MAXENT rule. It's behind a paywall, but there's an (actually much better) description of the same result in Section 5 of "The constraint rule of the maximum entropy principle" by Uffink. (It actually came out before PT:TLOS was published, but Jaynes' description of MAXENT doesn't change so the criticism still applies).

Comment author: SoerenE 11 July 2017 07:49:52AM 0 points [-]

Yes! From the Outside View, this is exactly what I would expect substantial, well-researched criticism to look like. Appears very scientific, contains plenty of references, is peer-reviewed and published in "Journal of Statistical Physics" and has 29 citations.

Friedman and Shimonys criticism of MAXENT is in stark contrast to David Chapmans criticism of "Probability Theory".

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 09 July 2017 02:09:55AM 1 point [-]

FWIW Loads of people criticise Jaynes' book all the time.

Comment author: SoerenE 10 July 2017 07:47:20AM 0 points [-]

Could you post a link to a criticism similar to David Chapman?

The primary criticism I could find was the errata. From the Outside View, the errata looks like a number of mathematically minded people found it to be worth their time to submit corrections. If they had thought that E. T. Jaynes was hopelessly confused, they would not have submitted corrections of this kind.

Comment author: ChristianKl 08 July 2017 04:14:05PM 1 point [-]

As far as I can tell, E. T. Jaynes is generally very highly regarded, and the only person who is critical of his book is David Chapman.

I don't think it's a good sign for a book if there isn't anybody to be found that criticizes it.

ksvanhorn's response that defends Jaynes still grants:

I agree with Chapman that probability theory does not extend the predicate calculus. I had thought this too obvious to mention, but perhaps it needs emphasizing for people who haven’t studied mathematical logic. Jaynes, in particular, was not versed in mathematical logic, so when he wrote about “probability theory as extended logic” he failed to properly identify which logic it extended.

[...]

My view is that the role of the predicate calculus in rationality is in model building. It gives us the tools to create mathematical models of various aspects of our world, and to reason about the properties of these models. The predicate calculus is indispensable for doing mathematics.

I think the view that Eliezer argues is that you can basically do all relevant reasoning with Bayes and not that you can't to reason well about the properties of mathematical models with Bayes.

Comment author: SoerenE 08 July 2017 07:32:04PM *  1 point [-]

I don't think it's a good sign for a book if there isn't anybody to be found that criticizes it.

I think it is a good sign for a Mathematics book that there isn't anybody to be found that criticizes it except people with far inferior credentials.

Comment author: ChristianKl 07 July 2017 07:07:28PM *  1 point [-]

From the outside view, David Chapman is a MIT Phd who published papers on artificial intelligence.

From the outside view, I think AI credentials qualify a person more than physics credentials.

Comment author: SoerenE 07 July 2017 07:54:37PM 1 point [-]

Thank you for pointing this out. I did not do my background check far enough back in time. This substantially weakens my case.

I am still inclined to be skeptical, and I have found another red flag. As far as I can tell, E. T. Jaynes is generally very highly regarded, and the only person who is critical of his book is David Chapman. This is just from doing a couple of searches on the Internet.

There are many people studying logic and probability. I would expect some of them would find it worthwhile to comment on this topic if they agreed with David Chapman.

Comment author: ChristianKl 07 July 2017 01:29:40AM *  1 point [-]

I don't think that changes much about the core argument. Chapman wrote in Probability theory does not extend logic :

Probability theory can be viewed as an extension of propositional calculus. Propositional calculus is described as “a logic,” for historical reasons, but it is not what is usually meant by “logic.”

[...]

Probability theory by itself cannot express relationships among multiple objects, as predicate calculus (i.e. “logic”) can. The two systems are typically combined in scientific practice.

Comment author: SoerenE 07 July 2017 09:24:21AM *  3 points [-]

I do not know enough about logic to be able to evaluate the argument. But from the Outside View, I am inclined to be skeptical about David Chapman:

DAVID CHAPMAN

"Describing myself as a Buddhist, engineer, scientist, and businessman (...) and as a pop spiritual philosopher“

Web-book in progress: Meaningness

Tagline: Better ways of thinking, feeling, and acting—around problems of meaning and meaninglessness; self and society; ethics, purpose, and value.

EDWIN THOMPSON JAYNES

Professor of Physics at Washington University

Most cited works: 

Information theory and statistical mechanics - 10K citations

Probability theory: The logic of science - 5K citations

The tone of David Chapman's refutation:

E. T. Jaynes (...) was completely confused about the relationship between probability theory and logic. (...) He got confused by the word “Aristotelian”—or more exactly by the word “non-Aristotelian.” (...) Jaynes is just saying “I don’t understand this, so it must all be nonsense.”

Comment author: whpearson 27 May 2017 08:10:55PM *  1 point [-]

I didn't organise this one so well, so it was a wash. No concrete plans for next time yet. Other priorities may interfere

Comment author: SoerenE 29 May 2017 06:30:51AM 0 points [-]

My apologies for not being present. I did not put it into my calendar, and it slipped my mind. :(

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