Trapped Priors As A Basic Problem Of Rationality

Someone else had pointed out in your previously linked comment "Confirmation Bias As Misfire Of Normal Bayesian Reasoning" that Jaynes had analyzed how we don't necessarily converge even in the long run to the same conclusions based on data if we start with different priors. We can diverge instead of converge. 

Jaynes hits on a particular problem for truth convergence in politics - trust. We don't experience and witness events themselves, but only receive reports of them from others. Reports that contradict our priors on the facts can be explained by increasing our priors on the reported facts or downgrading our priors on the honesty of the reporter

I'm not religious, but I've come to appreciate how Christianity got one thing very right - false witness is a sin. It's a malignant societal cancer. Condemnation of false witness is not a universal value.

ajbFebruary 13, 2020 at 2:05 pm

I think Jaynes argues exactly this in his textbook on the Bayesian approach to probability “Probability Theory:The Logic of Science”,
in a section called “Converging and Diverging views”, which can be found in this copy of Chapter 5

HPMOR: What could've been done better?

I had great hopes. GREAT hopes.

A book of Narrative that exemplifies values makes for a religion. What I've come to realize/believe, is that you don't have to believe The Narrative is literally true for The Narrative to serve the positive purposes of a religion.

While all the rationality homilies are fine and dandy, I thought HPMOR could have been more. HPMOR was so close to a transvaluation of values.

  • Mum and Dad, Hermione's friendship and Draco's journey, Neville and Seamus and Lavender and Dean, the blue sky and brilliant Sun and all bright things, the Earth, the stars, the promise, everything humanity was and everything it would become...
  • And someday when the descendants of humanity have spread from star to star, they won’t tell the children about the history of Ancient Earth until they’re old enough to bear it; and when they learn they’ll weep to hear that such a thing as Death had ever once existed!
  • You are not invincible, and someday the human species will end you. I will end you if I can, by the power of mind and magic and science. I won’t cower in fear of Death, not while I have a chance of winning. I won’t let Death touch me, I won’t let Death touch the ones I love. And even if you do end me before I end you, Another will take my place, and another, Until the wound in the world is healed at last…

A Rejection of Death as part of the Natural Order. Time Binding. Humanity as the Glass Half Full. Now that's a transvaluation of values. 

That's what I wish the Narrative had turned on. The moral issue. Values. Transvaluation of values in Voldemort. Isn't that Harry's dream? That we can all be saved? That we are all worth saving? And that people can come to understand that?

If Harry could understand that, why not Voldemort, the guy with the same brain?

That's the argument to win. That's the case to be made. That's the story to be told.

Instead, the climax was an Encyclopedia Brown Beats the Bad Guy by solving a cognitive puzzle. Harry won because Voldemort didn't know all that Harry was capable of. Sure. You get a win that way. But what was learned? That it's good to have powers the enemy doesn't know about? Well, yeah, but that's neither news nor uplifting.

And "having people to save gives you cognitive superpowers" just isn't true. Maybe it motivates you to work diligently. But it doesn't turn your brain up to 11 when faced with dozens of enemies about to kill you.

No, Really, I've Deceived Myself

Sounds like you are blessed and cursed with a mind that values epistemic rationality over instrumental rationality. That's how your neural net is wired.

It's one thing to see the argument. It's another to feel it in your values.

We're probably just a mutation that helps group survival at our own expense.

Ten small life improvements

Video Speed Controller

That sounds nice!

Hope it works in mobile chrome. I prefer all talking videos at 2x, and have to go back to youtube desktop to get it. It will help me get off Youtube, and move to alternate video sites now that Google's has changed it's motto to Do Evil.

EDIT: yay! Works at Bitchute

Prediction should be a sport

I don't know many tankies.

My favorite word of the day!

The dark arts: Examples from the Harris-Adams conversation

Adams has stated why he doesn't make claims about Trump's character. Recent podcast.

He says his own moral views are such that if he went around shunning people for immorality, he'd be shunning everyone.

The dark arts: Examples from the Harris-Adams conversation

The claim that Trump is a Master Persuader is falsifiable.

The dark arts: Examples from the Harris-Adams conversation

The prediction of the win shows he has insights into Trump's capabilities, but not necessarily his intentions.

The dark arts: Examples from the Harris-Adams conversation

Adams uses several techniques (listed in the post) that could be used to argue for any position—even one that I wholeheartedly agree with. I suspect that in such a case I might not be quite so enthusiastic to point out the flaws in the reasoning.

So that perhaps the following is not quite what you really did:

Where I disagree with you is the claim that attacking someone's epistemological method is necessarily the same as attacking the positions they hold.

Maybe some of that extra enthusiasm leaks over into actual opposition to the person, like:

and he is the kind of figure we rationalists should know how to fight against.

Was Adams v. Harris a convenient vehicle to discuss the dangers of Dark Arts to epistemic rationality, or was a Dark Arts analysis a convenient vehicle for you to advocate opposition to Trump and Adams?

So please, contribute in the comments with your own observations about the Dark Arts involved here.

Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

I note this as one of the prime methods of the Dark Arts that one sees in the media all the time - the presupposition. I think it's actually amazing effective. I simply can't stand watching most talking head news media because the discussions presuppose some propagandistic talking point.

But to be even handed about this, I'll give you an example of presupposition from Trump. It's genius Dark Arts.

We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning, you’re going to come to me and go ‘Please, please, we can’t win anymore.’ You’ve heard this one. You’ll say ‘Please, Mr. President, we beg you sir, we don’t want to win anymore. It’s too much. It’s not fair to everybody else.’”

From a dialectical standpoint, this is just absolute balderdash, silly and absurd. It's just goofy.

But from a Dark Arts perspective, it's amazing. The silliness disarms. Not only does he presuppose "winning", he has exactly the same silliness going on within the presuppositions themselves, that we'll all be begging to stop the winning, which again is rejected by the mind - "no, we won't get tired of winning!".

The dialectical mind thinks it is completely rejecting everything said, while underneath all that's left is the feeling of winning, winning, and more winning.

And this is not just analysis. This is empirical observation. It worked. It is yuge. Go search twitter for "not tired of winning yet" and #somuchwinning. They're basically "Hallelujah" for Trump supporters.

As a final note, I suggest that if you want to discuss the Dark Arts, find it in your side in politics. That way you can be sure you're not just using it as an avenue to attack an enemy, and will give them every benefit of the doubt before casting the accusing finger and proclaiming "I spy Dark Arts!" And you may learn some weaknesses in your side's arguments too.

The dark arts: Examples from the Harris-Adams conversation

For my part, I found the interview itself as an exercise in Dark Arts by Sam. He wants to pretend that he has given Trump politics a fair hearing. But he doesn't have on someone who actually supports the politics in any conventional sense.

He has on a persuasion analyst who doesn't believe in that there is much utility in us having political opinions because of our lack of knowledge and ability to be objective, and will say that his political opinions are so outside the mainstream that there is no point in discussing them. Similarly, he doesn't argue morality because his he says that his own moral values are so outside the mainstream that he finds everyone immoral.

Not a guy who is going to defend Trump on policy or morality. He finds him an effective persuader, and thinks that an effective persuader will make a good president, and sees a number benefits accrued already.

Sam has him on, and then doesn't even talk policy, but spends the hour attacking Trump personally.

Now watch to see how many times Sam uses this interview as evidence of engaging with the ideas behind Trump's politics and finding them unconvincing.

Load More