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Comment author: hairyfigment 02 January 2017 03:38:54AM 0 points [-]

As defined in some places - for example, the Occam's Razor essay that Eliezer linked for you many comments ago - simplicity is not the same as fitting the evidence.

The official doctrine of the Trinity has probability zero because the Catholic Church has systematically ruled out any self-consistent interpretation (though if you ask, they'll probably tell you one or more of the heresies is right after all). So discussing its complexity does seem like a waste of time to me as well. But that's not true for all details of Catholicism or Christianity (if for some reason you want to talk religion). Perhaps some intelligent Christians could see that we reject the details of their beliefs for the same reason they reject the lyrics of "I Believe" from The Book of Mormon.

Comment author: see 02 January 2017 09:43:34PM 1 point [-]

Of course simplicity is not the same thing as fitting the evidence. You only even start comparing simplicity after you have multiple hypotheses that actually fit the evidence. Then, and only then, can you properly apply Occam's Razor. The hypotheses "Always comes up heads" and "always comes up tails" and "always lands on the edge" are all already on the reject pile when you're trying to figure out the best theory for the existence of the "HTTHHT" sequence, and thus none of them get any points at all for being simple.

Indeed, if you've only got one hypothesis that fits, it's still too soon to apply Occam's Razor, except informally as a heuristic to encourage you to invent another hypothesis because your existing one looks excessively complicated. Only after you've got more than one hypothesis that fits the "HTTHHT" sequence can you actually use any formalization of Occam's Razor to judge between those hypotheses.

Comment author: DittoDevolved 05 October 2016 11:40:46AM 0 points [-]

Wouldn't having three deities instead of one be more complex by their interactions with one another? Even if they existed on separate planes of existence, they would have to all be exerting some kind of influence for them to be gods, no? And in their shared application of influence, would they not be interacting?

Comment author: see 01 January 2017 07:11:27AM 0 points [-]

The interactions of three people is more complex than the interactions of one person with himself. But the theory that my house contains three different residents still explains observations of my house much more simply than if you start with the assumption there's only one resident. You accordingly cannot actually use Occam's Razor to disfavor the theory that my house has three residents simply because the interactions of three people with each other are more complex than the interactions of one person with himself. Similarly, adding a cat to the three persons hypothesis actually improves the explanatory power of the model, even though you now have three sets of human-cat interactions added to the model; rejecting the cat on the basis of Occam's Razor is also a failure.

Is a trinity more complex than a unitary godhead? In itself, sure. But if you're trying to do something as notoriously convoluted as, say, theodicy, the question is, does the trinity provide extra explanatory power that reduces the overall complications?

And I strongly doubt anyone is both knowledgeable enough about theodicy and sufficiently rational and unbiased on the unity/trinity question to give a trustworthy answer on the question of which is the actual lesser hypothesis there. Especially since the obvious least hypothesis in theodicy is that there is no God at all and thus nothing to explain.

If you're going to claim that a unitary godhead is favored by Occam's Razor over a trinity, you actually need, among other things, a whole unitary-godhead theodicy. But if you actually worked one out, in order to have a rational opinion on the relative viability of the unitary and trinity theories, I'm going to wonder about your underlying rationality, given you wasted so much time on theodicy.

Comment author: see 22 January 2016 08:54:49AM 0 points [-]

Why do you attach any value whatsoever to a "consciousness" that cannot think, feel, remember, or respond? Your "consciousness", so defined, is as inanimate as a grain of sand. I don't care about grains of sand as ends-in-themselves, why would you?

Be clear that when you say you are conscious, it cannot be this "consciousness" that motivates the statement, because this "consciousness" cannot respond, so the non-conscious parts of your mind cannot query it for a status check. A simple neural spike would be a response, we could watch it on an fMRI.

Comment author: see 14 January 2016 03:49:09AM 4 points [-]

Well, I expect you're failing, yes. It is going to be futile to try to understand the Islamic State without understanding the philosophy of Al-Ghazali, the most influential Muslim scholar since Mohamed, the man accorded the honorific Hujjat al-Islam (Proof of Islam), and his doctrine of occasionalism.

This is going to be particularly hard on this site because the local "rationality" is rooted in the Aristotle-Averroes-Aquinas tradition, where we believe in things like natural laws that can be deduced by observation. And Averroes (Ibn Rushd) was a critic of Al-Ghazali who was exiled to live among Jews for heresy.

Al-Ghazali, in his The Incoherence of the Philosophers, says that there is no such thing a a material efficient cause; the efficient cause of all things is the will of God. When you apply an open flame to cotton, the cotton is burned by God, not by the fire. If God decided in a particular instance to instead have to cotton metamorphose into a VW minibus on the application of flame, that would be no more and no less a miracle than the occasions on which God had the cotton burn. "Allah's hand is not chained"; God might usually work in ways humans can understand, but He is transcendent, and is not required to obey reason.

Internalize this principle of causation, and it becomes clear that one must align one's will with God as best you can and try to please God. All other tactics are futile, because God decides the results of all things. So first and foremost, you align your actions with those of Muhammad and his closest followers, as recorded in the Koran and Hadiths. Since God is usually logical, you then try to be logical in how you do things after aligning yourself with God's will, but never let logic override faith and fidelity to the example of Mohamed.

Comment author: jacob_cannell 18 April 2015 11:08:46PM *  0 points [-]

Er, a few species of placental mammal are hardly "widely separated lineages".

Sure they are - given that the placental clade contains most of the extant mammal diversity.

Trying to draw conclusions for completely alien biologies by looking at convergent evolution inside a clade with a single common ancestor in the last 2-or-3% of the history of life on Earth is absurd.

Hardly. Using the "last 2-or-3% of the history of life on Earth" is perhaps disingenuous, as evolution is highly nonlinear. The entire period from the cambrian explosion to now is what - 15% of the history of life?

More importantly - elephants, cetaceans and primates occupy widely diverse environments and niches.

And the fact that the Placentalia start with an unusually high EQ among vertebrates-as-a-whole

EQ is a rather poor indicator of intelligence compared to total synapse count.

The common placentilia ancestors are believed to be small rodent like insectivores which had small brains - presumably on the order of 21 million neurons in the cortex, similar to rats. The fact that brains increased by a factor of 2 to 3 orders of magnitude in 3 divergent branches of placentilia is evidence to me for robustness in selection for high intelligence.

Now of course, it's fairly easy for evolution to just make a brain bigger. The difficulty is in scaling up the brain in the right way to actually increase intelligence. Rodent brains scale better than lizard brains, and elephant, cetecean, and primate brains scale even better still. So evolution found increasingly better scaling strategies over time, and in some occasions in parallel.

Comment author: see 19 April 2015 05:38:11AM 0 points [-]

Sure they are - given that the placental clade contains most of the extant mammal diversity.

The very issue is that "mammal diversity" is vastly insufficient to make any conclusions about general independent evolutionary trends. The number of potential explanations of the advantages of intelligence derived from features from the recent common evolutionary origin completely overwhelms any evidence for general factors.

For one example, if someone were to demonstrate that intelligence is usually useful for a species of animals where the adults, by a quirk of evolution, have to take active care of their young for an extended time — BOOM. A huge quantity of the "independence" is blown up in favor of a single ancestral cause, the existence of nursing of the young in mammals. And the same happens every other time you can show intelligence specifically helps given an ancestrally-derived feature or is promoted by an ancestrally-derived feature in the whole group. The placental mammals are far, far too alike in life cycle, biochemistry, et cetera for parallel evolution within the group to be good evidence of real evolutionary independence of a trait on a scale of completely separate planetary biome evolutions.

The entire period from the cambrian explosion to now is what - 15% of the history of life?

That's not disingenuity, that's driving home the point. The octopus, separated by that whole stretch of 15%, is a far better case for evolutionary independence of intelligence than puttering around with various branches of the placental mammals — but still not nearly as good as if we had a non-animal example (or even better, a non-eukaryote). Unless and until we have good evidence of the probability of the evolution of animal-analogues, near-ape-level intelligence being (in general) weakly useful for animals (with Cephalopoda, Aves, and Mammalia being the only three classes we know have it or even strongly suspect from the fossil record have ever had it) is hardly strong evidence that near-ape-or-better intelligence is a highly probable feature of life-in-general.

Comment author: see 18 April 2015 09:11:39PM 2 points [-]

Er, a few species of placental mammal are hardly "widely separated lineages". Trying to draw conclusions for completely alien biologies by looking at convergent evolution inside a clade with a single common ancestor in the last 2-or-3% of the history of life on Earth is absurd. And the fact that the Placentalia start with an unusually high EQ among vertebrates-as-a-whole make it a particularly unsuitable lineage for estimating the possibilities of independent evolution of high animal intelligence.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 10 March 2015 11:07:16PM 3 points [-]

I'm not sure if it's appropriate to also discuss the authors notes, but one solution to Eliezers writing obstacles is to publish under a pseudonym. Or why might that not qualify?

Comment author: see 11 March 2015 12:18:57AM 5 points [-]

His explanation on Reddit is that his style is too distinctive to go undetected.

Comment author: DanielLC 05 March 2015 02:42:48AM 30 points [-]

She initially got a fail grade for dying, but then Professor Quirrell let her retake the test.

Comment author: see 06 March 2015 02:42:16AM 7 points [-]

She got a Dreadful for dying . . . then Professor Quirrell revived her and re-graded her Troll.

Sshall ssacrifice my fallback weapon, and girl-child sshall gain troll'ss power of regeneration.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 28 February 2015 09:53:16PM 2 points [-]

Antimatter would only temporarily kill Voldemort, but would perminantly kill both Harry and possibly Hermione.

The resonance cascade in Akaziban did not kill Quirrel, it only forced him to throw his want aside and turn into a snake. But still, it might be possible to use that as a distraction, while Harry does something else.

Comment author: see 01 March 2015 02:46:07AM 5 points [-]

Quantities and locations matter. Atomic-diameter filaments linking nanogram-level concentrations in the brains of Voldemort and the Death Eaters could discorporate them without killing Harry (at least, not killing him before he could reach the Stone of Transfiguration).

Comment author: Sheaman3773 28 February 2015 09:01:48PM 1 point [-]

It clearly stipulates 12:01 am to avoid just this kind of confusion.

Further, the chapter will be posted at 10:00 am on Tuesday.

So the deadline is Monday night.

Comment author: see 01 March 2015 02:35:07AM 5 points [-]

The available dates were Monday, March 2nd, or Tuesday, March 3rd; the "12:01 am" did not distinguish which of those dates was meant by "Tuesday, March 2nd" in the slightest, since both possible dates had their own 12:01 am.

This has been subsequently corrected by EY to "Tuesday, March 3rd" (which was the correct day for the 60 hours promised).

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