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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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).

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".

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

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.

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.

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.*

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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

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

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