[SEQ RERUN] Absolute Authority

Today's post, Absolute Authority was originally published on 08 January 2008. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):


Those without the understanding of the Quantitative way will often map the process of arriving at beliefs onto the social domains of Authority. They think that if Science is not infinitely certain, or if it has ever admitted a mistake, then it is no longer a trustworthy source, and can be ignored. This cultural gap is rather difficult to cross.

Discuss the post here (rather than in the comments to the original post).

This post is part of the Rerunning the Sequences series, where we'll be going through Eliezer Yudkowsky's old posts in order so that people who are interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was The Fallacy of Gray, and you can use the sequence_reruns tag or rss feed to follow the rest of the series.

Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day's sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go here for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.

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Has it occurred to anyone else that referring to quantitative scientific thought as "the Quantitative way" or capital-s "Science" may be reinforcing this type of misconception? In my experience many of the non-science crowd are slow to spot some types of humor (or satire, whatever this is properly classified as), and would take this as actual cult behavior.

Just my 2 cents on this kind of humor.

I agree. Actually I think that applies to the whole "Zen speaking" Eliezer often uses.

Yeah, it does tend to lend sort of a cultish feel to the whole thing...I think Eliezer knows this, but underestimates how strongly people react to it. Remember, the general population is composed of the kind of people who think that dinosaurs and humans coexisted and don't know what a year is (or at least the general population in the US, I haven't seen similar studies from other areas). Don't expect them to be able to detect irony (if they even know that irony isn't an adjective relating to iron).