I recommend being wary of a point that needs to exist as part of a dialectical pair. What's orthogonal to cynicism vs. idealism. What's completely outside the set? What encompasses both? What has elements of both? What subversive idea or analytical framework is muted by discussing cynicism vs. idealism instead? I think these type questions are a good starting point when a dialectic is promoted, in general.
Although I think you're overstating and misapplying your case, Eliezer (like Robin implies, a "cynical" critique of both cynicism and idealism seems to me to yield more fruit than an idealist critique of both), I agree with Richard that cynicism is a poorer epistemological framework than skepticism.
I think it's also worth noting that it's a common play for status to admonish people not to be so cynical, I think because (1) the crowd seems to award higher status to people who perform optimism as a general rule, and (2) there's an element of power alignment, and (if one is powerful) power maintenance to convincing less powerful people not to be cynical about the reasons for power variance in a social group.
I encourage you to do one with Koch on consciousness, free will, and zombies. Be agressive with him like you were with that AI researcher with the dreads (not deferential like you were with Aubrey de Gray. I think it'll be very useful.
"Here's an odd bias I notice among the AI and singularity crowd: a lot of us seem to only plan for science-fictional emergencies, and not for mundane ones like economic collapse. Why is that?"
One hypothesis: because the value in the planning (and this may be rational, if nontransparent) is primarily for entertainment purposes.
Very good job, Eliezer. I recommend you do a BHTV tour of all the big blogging names in cryonics, life extension, and existential risk minimization. Kurzweil, Bostrom, and Hanson too, of course. They're probably asking you to do this already.
"However, if any professor out there wants to let me come in and just do a PhD in analytic philosophy - just write the thesis and defend it - then I have, for my own use, worked out a general and mathematically elegant theory of Newcomblike decision problems. I think it would make a fine PhD thesis, and it is ready to be written - if anyone has the power to let me do things the old-fashioned way."
I think this is a good idea for you. But don't be surprised if finding the right one takes more work than an occasional bleg. And I do recommend getting it at Harvard or the equivalent. And if I'm not mistaken, you may still have to do a bachelors and masters?
His predictions were much better than I expected. Your headline is misleading given this data point.
wow there's some haters in this thread. You can tell when Caledonian feels compelled to defend Eliezer. Peter? Apt name.
Some interesting, useful stuff in this post. Minus the status-cocaine of declaring that you're smarter than Robert Aumann about his performed religious beliefs and the mechanics of his internal mental state. In that area, I think Michael Vassar's model for how nerds interpret the behavior of others is your God. There's probably some 10 year olds that can see through it (look everybody, the emperor has no conception that people can believe one thing and perform another). Unless this is a performance on your part too, and there's shimshammery all the way down!
There's a corallary mystery category which most of you fall into: why are so few smart people fighting, even anonymously, against policy grounded in repugnancy bias that'll likely reduce their persistence odds? Where's the fight against a global ban on reproductive human cloning? Where's the fight to increase legal organ markets? Where's the defense of China's (and other illiberal nations)rights to use prisoners (including political prisoners) for medical experimentation? Until you square aware your own repugnancy bias based inaction, criticisms of that of the rest of population on topics like cryonics reads as incoherent to me as debating angels dancing on the heads of pins. My blog shouldn't be so anomolous in seeking to overcome repugnancy bias to maximize persistence odds. Where are the other anonymous advocates? Our reality is the Titanic -who want to go down with the ship for the sake of a genetic aesthetic -because your repugnancy bias memes are likely to only persist in the form of future generations if you choose to value it over your personal persistence odds.