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I was also frustrated by Hill's vagueness on what seemed to be an important point (perhaps he elaborates later?). In any case, I can tell you what I think Hill was thinking when he wrote that, though I'm not exceptionally confident about it.

The concept of human action--of making plans and following through with them--seems to be based on the assumption that the world is fundamentally predictable. We make decisions as if the future can to some extent be determined by a knowledge of the present, paired with a set of well-defined rules.

The natural objection to this would be that human action only presupposes some ability to predict the future, but not the perfect ability that might be possible if causal determinism is true. However, one could argue that it is far more natural to assume that the future is completely predictable, at least hypothetically, based on the fact that even our limited knowledge of the laws of nature seems to give us a good deal of predictive power. After all, there are many things we cannot yet do, but this would seem to be poor evidence that they are logically impossible.

So in my mind, Hill wasn't trying to make a definitive case for causal determinism, only observing that it is the far more natural conclusion to draw, based on the planning-oriented way human beings interact with the world.


I have to say, I object to the general spirit of this post. There didn't seem to be any attempt to engage us on an intellectual level. Whenever I read an article on LW I almost always come away having learned something new and interesting, even if I didn't share the author's value system. In this case, if you strip away the name-calling, bravado and inspirational quotes, there doesn't seem to be anything left.

To be more specific: I'm not convinced that a person's life is always more valuable than their "integrity", as you've narrowly defined it. I do value truth, knowledge, and humanity, as most of us do, but your views are simply not the next logical step from this. You need to give us some powerful mediating arguments if you expect us to agree with such an extreme claim.


The basic mistake seems to be loss aversion, the tendency to regret losses more than one values gains.

I tend to think of loss aversion as a preference rather than a mental error, but I agree that it probably explains a lot of the "don't know" answers. What I cannot figure out is why the test designers want an individual's level of loss aversion to affect their score.

Another possible (and probably over-charitable) explanation for the lack of guessing is that students are afraid of being drawn to the wrong answer. For example, I've heard that on the SAT math portion many of the answer choices purposely contain numbers that were mentioned in the question, drawing "random" guessers because such answers look more plausible.


That was the hardest survey I have ever taken.


Why is it that some of the graphs on the Kibotzer home page have 30 or more points off of the yellow brick road? In fact, some of the graphs don't even have a yellow brick road that I can see. Are you still working out the kinks with the software?

Here are some examples of what I'm talking about

In any case, I think this is a nice idea. I'm a long-time user of Stickk for my anti-akrasia needs, but I'll definitely give this a shot if everything is working properly.


I was a little disturbed when you offered up the experiment that allowed us to reject the hypothesis about a half-mirror changing each time it reflects a photon or lets one through. How do we know there aren't other experiments that could discredit the amplitude hypothesis? I'm sure there's a good answer, but don't expect me to take too much on faith.

I also thought it was odd that you called configurations real, when they just seem to be a mathematical construct that describes the behavior of photons bouncing off of mirrors. Couldn't some other construct just as easily explain what's going on (in an equivalent fashion)? It's sort of like saying that y''+5y'+ y = 0 is as real as a spring bouncing up and down, when it's actually only a model for describing what the spring is doing. Perhaps I misunderstood what you meant by "real."

Of course these are only questions, not criticisms. This is the best explanation I've ever heard--please keep it up!


Having read very little about quantum mechanics I am unfamiliar with the non-realist view that you're contrasting yourself with, so please make sure to explain as you go along. I think this is a great idea!


This post has gained the dubious distinction of being posted on my facebook.


Ok, but, can we read your stories anyway?