All of Anonymous_Coward's Comments + Replies

Mirrors and Paintings

You keep emphasizing that this isn't a "relative" morality; is that really necessary? I think it's been a very interesting series of posts, but I disagree with that claim, most likely because we don't see eye to eye on what is meant by a "relative" versus an "absolute" morality, 'cause what you're describing seems so clearly a relative morality. I don't see anything wrong with that, and don't think that detracts at all from your main points, but you insist on bringing it up...

That Alien Message

The analogy seems a bit disingenuous to me... the reason that it's believable that this earthful of Einsteins can decipher the 'outside' world is because they already have an internal world to compare it to. They have a planet, there's laws of physics that govern how this inside world works, which have been observed and quantified. As you're telling the story, figuring out the psychology and physics is as simple as making various modifications to the physics 'inside' and projecting them onto 2D. Perhaps that is not your intent, but that is how the story co... (read more)

Rationality Quotes 8

The link to 'Yu Suzuki' is currently broken.

The Futility of Emergence

Hmm, interesting. I've never actually realized that people used "emergent behavior" as a model or an explanation for anything. In that context, I'd always treated it as just a description, with the meaning that an "emergent phenomenon" is a "complex or seemingly complex phenomenon arising from interactions of a large number of very simple subparts," or something of the sort. Never thought of it as a model or an explanation, but just as a reasonable descriptive word. But if it is used as an attempted explanation to end discussion, then it's just functioning as a curiosity-stopper and should be questioned further.

Fake Explanations

Well, one difference between "heat conduction" and "phlogiston" is that the former carries some additional information with it - heat conduction is a well-understood mechanism by which energy is transferred from place to place. Maybe it does apply in that situation and maybe it doesn't - in the example given, it doesn't, there's no heat-conduction mechanism to transfer heat from one side to the other - but the fact that there's actually a mechanism behind the words separates it, qualitatively, from an explanation like "phlogiston.&... (read more)

Everyone agrees that the physics students are just doing what they've been incentivized to do in class after class. It's just worth pointing out that the behavior they've been trained to do is not at all like doing science, and that nobody seems to know or worry about this.