Eliezer- I like these ideas. I’m thinking a possible distinction between a seeker (one attempting to overcome bias) and a dogmatist (one attempting to defend bias) would be that a seeker takes a pragmatic rationality and looks for exceptions (thereby continuing to look for the deeper epistemic rationality) whereas a dogmatist takes a pragmatic rationality and turns it into an epistemic rationality by ignoring or redefining exceptions.
Am I understanding?
Constant-- deja vu is not always necessarily contentless. See the work of Ian Stevenson.
Mystical experiences are not necessarily centered around anything false-- see "The Spiritual Brain", by Beauregard (the neuroscientist who has studied these phenomena more than any other researcher.)
Eliezer, if we reduce every desire to "happiness" than haven't we just defined away the meaning of the word? I mean love and the pursuit of knowledge and watching a scary movie are all rather different experiences. To say that they are all about happiness-- well then, what wouldn't be? If everything is about happiness, then happiness doesn't signify anything of meaning, does it?
James, are you purposefully parodying the materialist philosophy based on the disproved Newtonian physics?
anonymous--I'd like to second that motion
g-- cats without heritable variation?
Where you get some of them?
The math of a subject is only valuable when one understands the basic terminology of the subject. As Chris points out, knowing when to use statistics (the basic assumptions and what the word applies to) makes something like the Doomsday Arguement good for a laugh. It is ridiculous.
On evolutionary biology--
Evolution is defined as " any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next."
This frequency changes with each birth. So to make the definition into regular English we could say
Evolution is defined as... (read more)
J Thomas--"in principle you ought to consider the entire state of the future universe when you set a terminal value."
Yes, and in practice we don't. But as I look further into the future to see the consequences of my terminal value(s), that's when the trouble begins.
igor--I want to defend Eliezer's bias against boredom. It seems that many of the 'most moral' terminal values (total freedom, complete knowledge, endless bliss...) would end up in a condition of hideous boredom.
Maybe that's why we don't achieve them.
Richard- I read your post. I ag... (read more)
The disticintion between instrumental values and terminal values is useful in thinking about political and economic issues (the 2 areas I’ve thought about so far…)
I’m running into a problem with ‘terminal’ values, and I wonder if this isn’t typical.
A terminal value implies the future in a way that an insturmental value does not. The instrumental value is for an action carried out in a finite time and leads to an outcome in the foreseeable future. A terminal value posits all futures—this is an endless recusive algorithm. (At least I don’t have an end t... (read more)
Some new info re: evolution you might want to consider before taking the gene view of evolution to its logical conclusions:
"Although we agree that evolutionary theory is not undergoing a Kuhnian revolution, the incorporation of new data and ideas about hereditary variation, and about the role of development in generating it, is leading to a version of Darwinism that is very different from the gene-centred one that dominated evolutionary thinking in the second half of the twentieth century."
htt... (read more)
Caledonian- I agree that Newton missed opportunities to improve his models. That was not what I said, only that his belief in God didn't hinder him from doing better than those that came before.
Here's an odd question-- If we took Newton as an example-
Which is currently a greater hinderance to scientific understanding-
A belief in God, or a belief in a materialistic/mechanistic description of the universe?
gutzperson-- I read the article. I am not surprised that there are self-interested parties that are making more of what Flew has said than what he has actully said. (A sad reality when passions are so thourghly engaged.)
It seems to me that his basic point, there must be an underlying intelligence to this universe, was shared by Newton, Planck, and Einstein. It appears a belief in God does not hinder one from understanding the universe better than anyone that came before.
That is not an arguement for the existence of God though, is it?
Before deciding that Gould's theory was wrong or unimportant, read something from 2007.
For a rationalists reason for going from atheism to a belief in God see www.biola.edu/anthonyflew/index.cfm
For the scientific case for the existence of the soul see the books
1)Mario Beauregard "The Spiritual Brain, A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul" (This book is written by the leading brain researcher on spiritual experience and is suitable for non-experts)
2)"Irreducible Mind" by Kelly and Kelly et.al. (This book is writen for psychologists and advanced students-- assumes some knowledge of philosophy and psychology-- the authors inform me that they have no current plans to write a similar book for the general public. It is worth the trouble 10 times over in my estimation)
selfreferencing, skyfort, David Williams,
Thank-you. I've always been an immortal spiritual being. Unfortunately my experience with religions has not always been all that religious and I can relate to what Eliezer is saying here. (using religion to spread fear bugs me-- I don't feel the need to be afraid at all.)
It is a pleasure to read that you have gotten a better understanding from your theological studies than I got--perhaps I have some bias to overcome before I can see what you do.
Robin, and that would be a good use for religion. I had to lose one (a religion) because of the fear factor-- I didn't lose my morality (as Eliezer predicts), but I'm not sure anybody knows God (assuming existence) well enough to speak for him.
That was incredibly difficult for me to accept for a while.
The point about the two philosophers is fantastic!
Using religion in an attempt to make people act right out of fear saddens me.
g- Oh, the probability that the appearance of human life postdating the appearance of other life by more the a week is 99.9999999...% (I understand the question now)
I am not reluctant to say where I get information. I am more than happy to. I appologize for not making it easier--
The information on tuberculosis can be found in Molecular Microbiology 33 pages 982-993. The best summary of the information can be found in "Quantum Evolution" by Johnjoe McFadden. You can read the relevant pages at http://books.google.com/books?id=eQbZE0oWqMwC&am... (read more)
g- What I'm trying to say about evolution is not outside the scientific consensus. That is that the way these bacteria evolve is not well explained by the neo-darwin model of evolution.
I've supplied at least one link that should make that clear. (pnas.org/cgi/content/full/96/6/2591, for example) I'm sorry that my links/ hints to find this simple fact have not been more helpful.
My comments about my methods are a means of begging some indulgence-- if I google 'competent cells' or 'tuberculosis strain w' I'll find something that makes my point in a few m... (read more)
tggp-1) google--tuberculosis strain w evolution of
2) down the page go to the amazon book review of "Quantum Evolution" by Johnjoe Mcfadden.
This will call up a page that includes the most relevent info.
I realize that the info on this is not well advertised. Of course when a theory that is promoted for so long as the explanation of everything (See Dennett's "Darwin's Dangerous Idea") predicts a cure and produces an incureable disease with an ever increasing pile of dead bodies-- This is a real life example of the problem and dangers of bias.
"Many Christians who've stopped really believeing..."
Apparently many Christians have changed their minds in the face of new evidence.
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather it opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." Max Planck
Did Max find the belief structure of scientists to be more irrational (unchangable in light of new evidence) than Eliezer has found the belief structure of Christians?
Is the belief in scientific knowledge more blinding than the belief in the Bible?
What am I to make of this evidence?
J Thomas-- try www.wasdarwinwrong.com Best place for the info. because it presents the problems without demanding any particular solution.
outeast- good point about the speculations, but thought experiments can be off-the-wall and still be of value because they are designed to help see the world in a different or new way. Sometimes the off-the-wall ones are best for that reason IMO.
J Thomas-- What you say fits well with the neo-Darwin model of evolution. One example you might be interested in that clearly does not is the tuberculosis bacteria. Google 'tuberculosis strain w' for more info. It turns out this sort of thing happens more than was previously thought (of course it wasn't thought to happen at all until fairly recently)
This is a case of motivated continuation on my part- the old model predicted a cure that turned out to be a recipe for making an incurable disease-- uh I want to understand better.
J Thomas- I'm not sure what your expertise- and this question is a little off post, but important to me and my personal biases, would you say the evidence today seems to indicate that the 'watchmaker' isn't blind? (maybe myopic...)
The philosophy of refusing to come to a conclusion is called skeptcism. The word skeptic comes from the Greek to examine.
While I understand the need to make decisions, I'm not so sure that it should trump the desire to not accept answers (keep looking).
As has been pointed out in earlier posts, once a decision is made it often is hard to dislodge.
For example, many people today accept neo-Darwinism as an answer to evolution. Yet the evidence from biology would indicate that neo-Darwinism is either false or incomplete. (Try dislodging that one)
So while... (read more)
It is clearly not so easy to have a non-subjective determination of utility.
After some thought I pick the torture. That is because the concept of 3^^^3 people means that no evolution will occur while that many people live. The one advantage to death is that it allows for evolution. It seems likely that we will have evovled into much more interesting life forms long before 3^^^3 of us have passed.
What's the utility of that?
The non-linear nature of 'qualia' and the difficulty of assigning a utility function to such things as 'minor annoyance' has been noted before. It seems to some insolvable.
One solution presented by Dennett in 'Consciousness Explained' is to suggest that there is no such thing as qualia or subjective experience. There are only objective facts. As Searle calls it 'consciousness denied'.
With this approach it would (at least theoretically) be possible to objectively determine the answer to this question based on something like the number of ergs needed to... (read more)
g- Perhaps a more rigorous paper would be appropriate. Try PCE Stamp (2006) It's on the web.
After covering many new experiments and discussion of the current formulations the conclusion goes something like this:
"Decoherence, according to the older ideas, is supposed to explain away the quantum measurement problem..." "There are many things we still do not understand about decoherence and what causes it, and it should now be clear this is a pressing problem."
(Some people use the 'measurement problem', others the 'observer problem'-... (read more)
g- Nobody has suggested treating people other than with respect and love. It seems to be a fairly common thread in the things I'm reading here.
Instead of asking "what group has a lower or higher IQ?", why not ask, "How do we raise an indiviual's IQ?"
I may be misreading Job, I see more like- "don't forget the beauty that surrounds you"
Silas- I like your example of interrogation. You rabble rouser, and I say that with utmost respect and love.
I've had to throw out a couple of deeply cherished beliefs in my time, and it can be brutal. I try to go back to the question, "What does the evidence indicate?", and then I have to be willing to look at evidence that I had neglected because I was to fixed or bias to consider it.
I must admit, when I look at the state of the world, I don't have a hard time believing that much of what currently passes as sense is actually nonsense. Ya know?
g- I think you've misread the article. There is nothing to worry about, of course, there are only possibilities to consider.
The point the article makes is not dependant on any particular notion of free will.
Stapp advocates the von Nuemann, Wigner formulation of QM, the only existing formulation that produces a rationally coherent idea of the reality that lies behind our experiences. IMHO
Of course, one problem that people have with this formulation is that it agrees with with the experienced fact that our thoughts can influence our actions.
Would anyone reading this post, or studying decision theory, or trying to overcome a bias, deny that?
Matt- I'm seldom careful. The advantages of being carefree are too numerous to list, but one of the disadvantages is that I have to admit mistakes.
You are not being overly pedantic.
I'd probably make a lousy Bayesian. (I wonder what the prior probability of that is?)
By the way, what do you think of a decision making protocol that assumes that the data gathering is random?
TGGP- there is a paper by Rosenblum and Kutter on arxiv.org that goes into this. I believe they make a convining case that no existent theory does away with the problem. I like this paper because it goes into the problems without too much jargon.
You could google "observer problem decoherence" (or words to that effect) and you will find any number of papers written and a somewhat lively debate on the subject.
The von Nuemann- Wigner interpretation of QM is often refered to as the "standard" interpretation, and it has as a basic that t... (read more)
g- you ask good questions.
My point about AI and religion is that rather than pretending that one is related to the other, AI would benefit from clearing up this confusion. (So would the religious)
Perhaps the way Elizer went about it was OK
I would define "soul" as a non-corporeal being that exists separable from the body and that survives body death. (I want to say something about the soul being the true source of consciousness and ability-- OK, I said it)
Ignorance is the basic foundation of science. Without things we are ignorant of there is no point to science.
Mystery (and the desire solve it) is the motavation that drives most scientists to do the hard (often unrewarding) work that makes science.
"Because God made it that way," can be the end of curiosity and therefore harmful to further discovery.
"What has God wrought?" on the other hand has been the question that motavated men like Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein.
"Decoherence solved the observer problem in physics,&q... (read more)
g- the man said, "I don't believe AI is possible because only God can make a soul."
"...If I can make an AI it proves your religion false?"
Somebody in this exchange has equated the making of an AI with the making of a soul. That's why I would suggest that the words have been confused.
An AI is not a soul would be useful in this discussion because it would clarify that the making of one would not invalidate the existence of the other or the statement that "only God can make a soul".
Comparing the two notions would not be a pr... (read more)
Before using Aumann one should ask, "What does this guy know that I don't?"
Wouldn't it be easier to say, an AI is not a soul?
In what sense do these two words have the same meaning?
An AI is a non-existant entity which, due to the unflagging faith of some, is being explored.
A soul is an eternal being granted life (human only?) by god (should that be capitalized?)
Comparing them is what leads to the problem.
Silas- yes, good point, but an important subset in that the person attempting to do the explaining often overlooks it. When was the last time you were having trouble explaining or understanding something and you asked, "Is this just nonsense?"
We must not overlook the number one reason something is difficult to explain- that is that what one is trying to explain is nonsense. (this is not specifically directed at anyone posting here)
Eliezer, you are right. One word for probability one is "certainty" and a word for probability zero is "impossible".
Could we say then that with the exception of a situation of perfect, complete knowledge of conditions (a situation that may or may not actually exist in reality) that the Bayesian worldveiw would not include those words?
Micheal- I was indocrinated into Bayes many years ago. I agree that the probability 0 is not a rational one. (Who would have guessed in 1900 that the things that seemed most certain were wrong?) Or perhaps I should say that the probability 0 (or 1) is not a scientific attitude- science is based on looking to know- the assumption on probability 0 is the excuse to not look.
I'm thinking that is a difference between religion and science- science has to be wrong (so that it can advance) whereas religion has to be right (to be worthy of total faith). Hmmm, I like that.
Oops! (that last post was not intended to test anyone's psychic ability)
The problem of Bayesian reasoning is in the setting of prior probability. There is some self correction built in, so it is a better system than most (or any other if you prefer), but a particular problem raises its ugly that is relevant to overcoming bias.
Suppose I want to discuss a particular phenomena or idea with a Bayesian. Suppose this Bayesian has set the prior probability of this phenomena or idea at zero.
What would be the proper gradient to approach the subject in such a case?
Constant- You make an excellent point. One question that often needs to be asked when reading experiments is- "Does the conclusion follow from the evidence presented?"
(I often find the answer to be 'maybe not'
Is the ability to vizualize a learned skill? Can you train someone to be better at it?
I grew up with three brothers all about my age and my mother would often ask, "How would you like it if your brother did that to you?" This had an effect on me (or am I just imagining it?)
Anyone know of such a study?
"I find myself in a simple world rather than a noisy one."
Care to expand on that?
"How would you recognize a natural ethical process if you saw one?"
How would you recognize an ethical process if you saw one? If you saw an ethical process would you think it unnatural, or supernatural, or what exactly? (Sorry if that's a silly question)