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OK, sorry, but can somebody please explain the banana anecdote? What is supposed to be so obviously wrong with this approach? I seriously did not get it.

P.S. Otherwise, great writing - but can I suggest using more transparent anecdotes for your illustrations?

Eclecticism and its descendent postmodernism raise the idea that the ultimate truth of the world can never really be known. The world is subjective down to its roots, reality is just like, your opinion man

Which? There's four potential claims there.

  1. The world is objective (ontologically mind independent) and knowable.

  2. The world is objective but not (entirely) knowable. (To us. It's obviously unknowable to a stone or a snail. How would we know that our jumped up monkey brains can comprehend everything?)

  3. Reality is subjective in some sense that makes it tautologous that it is what we think it is. (Relativism,the idea that there are a lot of truths, as many as the number of believers multiplied by the number of beliefs)

  4. Reality is cussed, in the sense that it contains no facts that are discernable by even an infinite intelligence, but also lacks any if-you-believe-its-true property. (Scepticism, the idea that there are no truths).

Even if you don't believe in 4 or 3, that doesn't mean that 1 is the only remaining option.

Even if your opponents dont believe in 1 or 2, that doesn't mean they believe in 3. Relativists aren't sceptics.

Is this Eliezer spoken through a megaphone, or am I missing something?

You can’t design a bridge without actually knowing the tensile strength of steel and the compressive strength of concrete, these facts are not open to interpretation. Designing a society is no different

It's different because, in a society, you have to deal with competing values.

This is easily the most important concept that Eliezer discusses in The Sequences. Reality actually exists and has properties you can determine through study and experimentation

The difference between knowing some things, and knowing everything is important , as is the fact/value distinction.

And also, you totally can build a bridge without knowing the tensile strength of steel or the compressive strength of concrete!

  • Trial and error works, and with scale models (plus awareness of square/cube scaling etc) it's cheap too
  • Bridges can also be made out of stone, wood, rope, iron, living roots, ...

Engineering regularly works with materials and processes where we don't understand the relevant underlying science - for example, we spent most of the 20th century doing aerodynamics with wind tunnels and test flights rather than fluid dynamics.