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Comment author: tdb 07 August 2017 08:34:21PM 0 points [-]

"cognitive archaeology", tee hee. I thought he was making it up, it turns out he's just misapplying it.


In response to comment by Dagon on Crony Beliefs
Comment author: entirelyuseless 05 November 2016 05:05:22PM 0 points [-]

I am already sure that all communities include as core beliefs or very close to core, things that I am very confident are false.

I learned that from experience, but it is easy to come up in hindsight with theoretical reasons why that would be likely to be the case.

Comment author: tdb 15 December 2016 05:39:03PM 1 point [-]

Yeah. How many groups in the distant past had core beliefs that are false? Pretty large percent. Even if the trend is going in the right direction, it seems unlikely we are out of the woods yet.

Comment author: gjm 17 March 2016 11:57:40PM 1 point [-]

The statement [...] is not a "simple factual observation"

No, but I'm pretty sure it's shorthand for something like this:

Experience has shown many, many instances where (in the absence of paternalist regulation with real teeth) charlatans and cranks persuade people to do things that are very much not in their best interests, and those people end up harmed.

which is a simple factual observation, plus this:

If there were "banned products stores" within which the rules against selling dangerous products were suspended, there's no reason to suppose that they would be a unique exception to that pattern; so, almost certainly, sooner or later (and probably sooner) someone would buy something dangerous in one of those stores and come to serious harm.

which, while in principle it's "speculation", seems about as speculative as "if we set up a stall in the street offering free cake, some people would eat it".

(I take it it's obvious that "Sulfuric Acid Drink" was intended as hyperbole, to indicate something not quite so transparently harmful, masquerading as a cure. If it isn't, you might want to consider why Eliezer called it "Dr Snakeoil's".)

Apparently you disagree on the grounds that actually no one would be selling such things even if such shops existed. I think they very decidedly might.

Surely it would not be profitable

Selling fake cures for real diseases (or in some cases fake diseases) has historically been very profitable for some people, and some of those fake cures have been poisonous.

begging for a gigantic tort judgment

That's a stronger argument. I think Robin may have been envisaging -- and, whether or not he was, Eliezer may have taken him to be envisaging -- that selling in the Banned Products Store exempts you from more than just standard-issue regulatory red tape. I am not an expert on US tort law, so I'll take your word for it that Dr Snakeoil would not be able to get out of trouble just by protesting that he honestly thought his Sulfuric Acid Drink was good against arthritis; if so, then indeed the Banned Products store might be substantially less dangerous than Eliezer suggests.

Comment author: tdb 04 November 2016 01:14:46AM 0 points [-]

Maybe we need a banned products store and a tort-proof banned products store, both.

Some libertarians might say that if you go into a "banned products shop", passing clear warning labels that say "THINGS IN THIS STORE MAY KILL YOU", and buy something that kills you, then it's your own fault and you deserve it.* If that were a moral truth, there would be no downside to having shops that sell banned products. It wouldn't just be a net benefit, it would be a one-sided tradeoff with no drawbacks.*

I don't quite follow. Even when people "deserve" what they get, if what they "deserve" is death, their loved ones see that as a negative. Does this mean there are no moral truths, since every choice has a downside? Or am I overgeneralizing when I interpret it as "moral truths have no downside."

Comment author: ChristianKl 01 November 2016 05:57:41PM 1 point [-]

Someone who follow a political ideology is a hedgehog and therefore likely making bad predictions. I'm not sure whether there's a consensus but I think the "official position" to the extend that there is one, is that this is bad. EY also wrote http://lesswrong.com/lw/gz/policy_debates_should_not_appear_onesided/

Comment author: tdb 04 November 2016 12:33:28AM *  0 points [-]

I would also hold that political ideologies are mostly wrong.

Atheists don't hold that religions are mostly wrong. They hold that religious believers depend on untestable hypotheses and shield their beliefs from criticisms instead of engaging them.

What could we use as a political analog of atheism? Anarchists don't deny the existence of the state, just its benevolence.

For most issues it's makes a lot more sense to study the issue in detail than try to have an opinion based on precached ideology.

This sounds like an ideology wearing a fig leaf. When we study the issue, do we start with a blank slate, or do we have prior beliefs about facts, values and goals? Maybe you have a different interpretation of the word "ideology" than I do, but that sounds like ideology to me, and irreducible.

Comment author: tdb 28 November 2014 08:09:44PM 3 points [-]

This advice has more to do with serious written criticism, but I like spreading it around.

You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way."
You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Me quoting Judith Curry quoting Daniel Dennett quoting Anatol Rapaport.

I only ran across this fairly recently, but it makes explicit some vague intuitions I had had before. The few times I consciously have put it into practice so far, I have found it rather time consuming but beneficial. I'm not sure whether I have learned to back away from pointless controversy or how to make points more persuasively, but it has helped me get away from looking at arguments as soldiers in an army kind of thinking.