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[LINK] Another "LessWrongers are crazy" article - this time on Slate

Let's check featured articles on the main page on 19 July 2014....and...there we go.

This is why we can't have social science

What is the purpose of an experiment in science? For instance, in the field of social psychology? For instance,what is the current value of the Milgram experiment? A few people in Connecticut did something in a room at Yale in 1961. Who cares? Maybe it's just gossip from half a century ago.

However, some people would have us believe that this experiment has broader significance, beyond the strict parameters of the original experiment, and has implications for (for example) the military in Texas and corporations in California.

Maybe these people are wrong. Maybe the Milgram experiment was a one-off fluke. If so, then let's stop mentioning it in every intro to psych textbook. While we're at it, why the hell was that experiment funded, anyway? Why should we bother funding any further social psychology experiments?

I would have thought, though, that most social psychologists would believe that the Milgram experiment has predictive significance for the real world. A Bayesian who knows about the results of the Milgram experiment should better be able to anticipate what happens in the real world. This is what an experiment is for. It changes your expectations.

However, if a supposedly scientific experiment does nothing at all to alter your expectations, it has told you nothing. You are just as ignorant as you were before the experiment. It was a waste.

Social psychology purports to predict what will happen in the real world. This is what would qualify it as a science. Jason Mitchell is saying it cannot even predict what will happen in a replicated experiment. In so doing, he is proclaiming to the world that he personally has learned nothing from the experiments of social psychology. He is ignorant of what will happen if the experiment is replicated. I am not being uncharitable to Mitchell. He is rejecting the foundations of his own field. He is not a scientist.

This is why we can't have social science

I'd think that "famous experiments where the original result was clearly correct" are exactly those whose results have already been replicated repeatedly. If they haven't been replicated they may well be famous -- Stanford prison experiment, I'm looking at you -- but they aren't clearly correct.

Less Wrong’s political bias

I would like to be able to talk about politics with rational people ...[but]...the problem is that crazy views get too much credence here, due to an unwillingness to criticize by more rational people.

Right. It's those damn greens. Damn those greens, with their votes for... crazy green things! Not like us blues, who want nothing but good and rational blueness!

[ETA] My mind has been killed. This is why I don't want party politics -- as opposed to policy -- on LessWrong.

Less Wrong’s political bias

1) I would like to be able to talk about politics with rational people

I'd suggest a distinction between "politics" and "policy", at least in the American English prevalent on LessWrong. "Politics" implies party politics, blue versus green, horse races (by which I mean election horse races), and tribalism. I think your post suggested an interest in this. Personally, I don't want this here.

If, however, you want to talk about policy, using the analytical language of policy, then I say go for it. However, your original post, with its reference to parties, made me doubtful.

Less Wrong’s political bias

I think it's a bit silly to call it "courageous" to criticize an online forum. At worst it makes me feel slightly bad when my posts get downvoted as a result.

Well said! Well said indeed! And for that I will award you...a karma point!

Less Wrong’s political bias

Downvoted because the original post didn't so much ask a question as make an assertion which I personally didn't find so valuable. As you point out, why would anyone come here for political discussion in the first place? So I downvoted it, because that's what the karma system is for. In the end, a karma point is just a karma point. Nothing personal in it.

Is it immoral to have children?

What about targeted vaccinations and other health interventions for smart kids? I don't think thiis is a good idea, partly because it's going to be so much less efficient than just helping everyone, but you may.

Not at all, that sounds great, if it were possible. Certainly generally effective health interventions sound even far more likely. But if there were a health intervention that only benefited smart kids, I would definitely consider that a net plus as to not having it exist at all.

[ETA] If it imposed some extrinsic cost on everyone else, that would be a different matter, but that's not how vaccines work, is it?

Is it immoral to have children?

you probably do better to find existing kids with the potential to be net-positive and help them reach their potential.

I have my doubts, or rather, I think it depends on a lot of things. I take it Steve Jobs' parents were decent average people who went out of their way to raise their brilliant adoptive son as best they could, with great success. But, of course, this involved for them almost exactly the same expense of time or money as it would to raise a biological child of their own, which nullifies a good chunk of the original argument, as I understood it. Maybe "finding existing kids with the potential to be net-positive and helping them reach their potential" is as expensive as raising children in the ordinary way.

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