After reading the quote I thought that he was trying to make an analogy between finding a historical narrative from historical facts and drawing a curve that has the best fit to a given series of data points. Indeed, saying that such curve is "true" or "false" does not make a lot sense, since just because a point lies outside the graph of a function does not mean that this function cannot be a curve of best fit - one cannot decide that from a small number of data points, one needs to measure (in)accuracy of the model over the whole domain. Such analogy would lead to interesting follow-up questions, e.g. how exactly does one measure inaccuracy of a historical narrative?

However, after reading Moldbug's post I see that he does not try to make such analogy, instead he tries to appeal to intuitive thinking. I think this is not a good argument, since intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason, therefore saying that you used your intuition to arrive at a certain conclusion is basically saying that you used "something else" (similarly to how you cannot build stuff out of nonwood) - this category does not seem specific enough to be a good explanation. Humans are able to find a lot of patterns, some of which are not meaningful. It is an interesting problem how to recognize which patterns are meaningful and which aren't. But this applies to the whole field of history, not just Moldbug's ideas.

Open thread, Nov. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014

by MrMind 1 min read17th Nov 2014329 comments


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