Reading Yudkowsky, part 23

by Luke Muehlhauser on March 27, 2011 in Eliezer Yudkowsky,Resources,Reviews

AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky is something of an expert at human rationality, and at teaching it to others. His hundreds of posts at Less Wrong are a treasure trove for those who want to improve their own rationality. As such, I’m reading all of them, chronologically.

I suspect some of my readers want to “level up” their rationality, too. So I’m keeping a diary of my Yudkowsky reading. Feel free to follow along.

His 172nd post is Lost Purposes:

It was in either kindergarten or first grade that I was first asked to pray, given a transliteration of a Hebrew prayer.  I asked what the words meant.  I was told that so long as I prayed in Hebrew, I didn’t need to know what the words meant, it would work anyway.

That was the beginning of my break with Judaism.

As you read this, some young man or woman is sitting at a desk in a university, earnestly studying material they have no intention of ever using, and no interest in knowing for its own sake.  They want a high-paying job, and the high-paying job requires a piece of paper, and the piece of paper requires a previous master’s degree, and the master’s degree requires a bachelor’s degree, and the university that grants the bachelor’s degree requires you to take a class in 12th-century knitting patterns to graduate.  So they diligently study, intending to forget it all the moment the final exam is administered, but still seriously working away, because they want that piece of paper.

Maybe you realized it was all madness, but I bet you did it anyway.  You didn’t have a choice, right?

A recent study here in the Bay Area showed that 80% of teachers in K-5 reported spending less than one hour per week on science, and 16% said they spend no time on science.  Why?  I’m given to understand the proximate cause is the No Child Left Behind Act and similar legislation.  Virtually all classroom time is now spent on preparing for tests mandated at the state or federal level…

It is now being suggested in several sources that an actual majority of published findings in medicine, though “statistically significant with p<0.05″, are untrue.  But so long as p<0.05 remains the threshold for publication, why should anyone hold themselves to higher standards, when that requires bigger research grants for larger experimental groups, and decreases the likelihood of getting a publication?  Everyone knows that the whole point of science is to publish lots of papers, just as the whole point of a university is to print certain pieces of parchment, and the whole point of a school is to pass the mandatory tests that guarantee the annual budget.  You don’t get to set the rules of the game, and if you try to play by different rules, you’ll just lose.

consider the No Child Left Behind Act.  The politicians want to look like they’re doing something about educational difficulties; the politicians have to look busy to voters this year, not fifteen years later when the kids are looking for jobs.  The politicians are not the consumers of education.  The bureaucrats have to show progress, which means that they’re only interested in progress that can be measured this year.  They aren’t the ones who’ll end up ignorant of science.  The publishers who commission textbooks, and the committees that purchase textbooks, don’t sit in the classrooms bored out of their skulls.

The actual consumers of knowledge are the children – who can’t pay, can’t vote, can’t sit on the committees.  Their parents care for them, but don’t sit in the classes themselves; they can only hold politicians responsible according to surface images of “tough on education”.  Politicians are too busy being re-elected to study all the data themselves…

The essential thing in the art of epistemic rationality is to understand how every rule is cutting through to the truth in the same movement.  The corresponding essential of pragmatic rationality – decision theory, versus probability theory – is to always see how every expected utility cuts through to utility.  You must thoroughly research this.

Purpose and Pragmatism compares practical rationality and epistemic rationality:

In pragmatic rationality, keeping your eye on the ball means holding to your purpose:  Being aware of how each act leads to its consequence, and not losing sight of utilities in leaky generalizations about expected utilities.  If you hold firmly in your mind the image of a drained swamp, you will be less likely to get lost in fighting alligators.

In epistemic rationality, keeping your eye on the ball means holding to your question:  Being aware of what each indicator says about its indicatee, and not losing sight of the original question in fights over indicators.  If you want to know whether landmines will detonate, you will not get lost in fighting over the meaning of the word “sound”.

Both cases deal with leaky generalizations about conditional probabilities:  P(Y=y|X=x) is nearly but not quite 1.

In the case of pragmatic rationality: driving to the supermarket may almost always get you chocolate, but on some occasions it will not.  If you forget your final purpose and think that x=y then you will not be able to deal with cases where the supermarket is out of chocolate.

In the case of epistemic rationality: seeing a “Chocolate for sale” sign in the supermarket may almost always indicate that chocolate is available, but on some occasions it will not.  If you forget your original question and think that  x=y then you will go on arguing “But the sign is up!” even when someone calls out to you, “Hey, they don’t have any chocolate today!”

The Affect Heuristic surveys a set of interesting biases:

The affect heuristic is when subjective impressions of goodness/badness act as a heuristic – a source of fast, perceptual judgments.  Pleasant and unpleasant feelings are central to human reasoning, and the affect heuristic comes with lovely biases – some of my favorites…

For example:

consider the report of Denes-Raj and Epstein (1994):  Subjects offered an opportunity to win $1 each time they randomly drew a red jelly bean from a bowl, often preferred to draw from a bowl with more red beans and a smaller proportion of red beans.  E.g., 7 in 100 was preferred to 1 in 10.

According to Denes-Raj and Epstein, these subjects reported afterward that even though they knew the probabilities were against them, they felt they had a better chance when there were more red beans.  This may sound crazy to you, oh Statistically Sophisticated Reader, but if you think more carefully you’ll realize that it makes perfect sense.  A 7% probability versus 10% probability may be bad news, but it’s more than made up for by the increased number of red beans.  It’s a worse probability, yes, but you’re still more likely to win, you see.  You should meditate upon this thought until you attain enlightenment as to how the rest of the planet thinks about probability.

Evaluability (And Cheap Holiday Shopping) answers a reader question:

Dear Overcoming Bias, are there biases I can exploit to be seen as generous without actually spending lots of money?

Eliezer responds:

I’m glad to report the answer is yes!  According to Hsee (1998) – in a paper entitled “Less is better:  When low-value options are valued more highly than high-value options” – if you buy someone a $45 scarf, you are more likely to be seen as generous than if you buy them a $55 coat.

Unbounded Scales, Huge Jury Awards, & Futurism begins:

If you dump acoustic energy into air – make noise – then how loud does that sound to a person, as a function of acoustic energy?  How much more acoustic energy do you have to pump into the air, before the noise sounds twice as loud to a human listener?  It’s not twice as much; more like eight times as much.

Acoustic energy and photons are straightforward to measure.  When you want to find out how loud an acoustic stimulus sounds, how bright a light source appears, you usually ask the listener or watcher.  This can be done using a bounded scale  from “very quiet” to “very loud”, or “very dim” to “very bright”.  You can also use an unbounded scale, whose zero is “not audible at all” or “not visible at all”, but which increases from there without limit.  When you use an unbounded scale, the observer is typically presented with a constant stimulus, themodulus, which is given a fixed rating.  For example, a sound that is assigned a loudness of 10.  Then the observer can indicate a sound twice as loud as the modulus by writing 20.

And this has proven to be a fairly reliable technique.  But what happens if you give subjects an unbounded scale, but no modulus?  0 to infinity, with no reference point for a fixed value?  Then they make up their own modulus, of course.  The ratios between stimuli will continue to correlate reliably between subjects.  Subject A says that sound X has a loudness of 10 and sound Y has a loudness of 15.  If subject B says that sound X has a loudness of 100, then it’s a good guess that subject B will assign loudness in the range of 150 to sound Y.  But if you don’t know what subject C is using as their modulus – their scaling factor – then there’s no way to guess what subject C will say for sound X.  It could be 1.  It could be 1000.

For a subject rating a single sound, on an unbounded scale, without a fixed standard of comparison, nearly all the variance is due to the arbitrary choice of modulus, rather than the sound itself.

“Hm,” you think to yourself, “this sounds an awful lot like juries deliberating on punitive damages.  No wonder there’s so much variance!”

Other posts describe The Halo Effect and the Superhero Bias. Mere Messiahs gets more specific:

Yesterday I discussed how the halo effect, which causes people to see all positive characteristics as correlated – for example, more attractive individuals are also perceived as more kindly, honest, and intelligent – causes us to admire heroes more if they’re super-strong and immune to bullets.  Even though, logically, it takes much more courage to be a hero if you’re not immune to bullets.  Furthermore, it reveals more virtue to act courageously to save one life than to save the world.  (Although if you have to do one or the other, of course you should save the world.)

“The police officer who puts their life on the line with no superpowers”, I said, “reveals far greater virtue than Superman, who is a mere superhero.

But let’s be more specific…

Yudkowsky brings up (probably) atheist police officer John Perry:

Perry knew he was risking his very existence, every week on the job.  And it’s not, like most people in history, that he knew he had only a choice of how to die, and chose to make it matter – because Perry was a transhumanist; he had genuine hope.  And Perry went out there and put his life on the line anyway.  Not because he expected any divine reward. Not because he expected to experience anything at all, if he died.  But because there were other people in danger, and they didn’t have immortal souls either, and his hope of life was worth no more than theirs.

But now, consider one religion’s idea of a superhero:

As the Christians tell the story, Jesus Christ could walk on water, calm storms, drive out demons with a word.  It must have made for a comfortable life:  Starvation a problem?  Xerox some bread.  Don’t like a tree?  Curse it.  Romans a problem?  Sic your Dad on them.  Eventually this charmed life ended, when Jesus voluntarily presented himself for crucifixion.  Being nailed to a cross is not a comfortable way to die.  But as the Christians tell the story, it only lasted a few hours – nothing compared to the duration, or even the intensity, of the tortures the Inquisition visited upon suspected witches.  As the Christians tell the story, Jesus did this knowing he would come back to life three days later, and then go to Heaven.  What was the threat that moved Jesus to face a few hours’ suffering followed by eternity in Heaven?  Was it the life of a single person?  Was it the corruption of the church of Judea, or the oppression of Rome?  No: as the Christians tell the story, the eternal fate of every human went on the line before Jesus suffered himself to be temporarily nailed to a cross.

[But] what if Jesus… of Nazareth never walked on water, and nonetheless defied the church of Judea established by the powers of Rome?

Would that not deserve greater honor than that which adheres to Jesus Christ, who was only a mere messiah?

Previous post:

Next post:

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

cl March 27, 2011 at 10:33 am

Huh. I guess even the “oh-so-rational” Eliezer Yudkowsky gets to say whatever nonsense he wants to prove his point at times. For somebody so into overcoming bias and irrationality, this guy seems just as prone to rhetorical device and non-sequitur as your average internet atheist apologist:

As the Christians tell the story, Jesus Christ could walk on water, calm storms, drive out demons with a word. It must have made for a comfortable life: Starvation a problem? Xerox some bread. Don’t like a tree? Curse it. Romans a problem? Sic your Dad on them.

Of course, here’s what you’ll find if you read Matthew 26:

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

In stark contrast to what Eliezer claims, the Bible tells us Jesus refused to sic the Father on the Romans. Pretty pathetic if you ask me.

Eventually this charmed life ended, when Jesus voluntarily presented himself for crucifixion. Being nailed to a cross is not a comfortable way to die. But as the Christians tell the story, it only lasted a few hours – nothing compared to the duration, or even the intensity, of the tortures the Inquisition visited upon suspected witches.

Hmmm… the tortures of the Inquisition relates to the courage of superheroes vs. ordinary folk how? It seems to me Yudkowsky is simply grasping at straws to propagate his negative opinion of Christianity.

This all just serves to heighten my suspicion that the more intelligent one is, the more likely they might be to overlook the biases and cognitive errors they’re prone to pointing out in others. It’s that whole “false confidence” thing.

  (Quote)

Ajay March 27, 2011 at 10:56 am

Uh, okay. I’m not sure what any of these quibbles have to do with the larger point of his research, except to underscore that you don’t like him and therefore his ideas are stupid.

I think the point he was trying to make re: Jesus, which you did not understand, is that the focus on his physical suffering is rather misplaced considering that there are probably millions of people in the world who suffer more physically debilitating situations for longer durations of time (see the end of the great film by Bergman ‘Winter Light’ for a beautiful discussion about this). The point is that there was really nothing heroic that Christ did given who he (supposedly) was.

  (Quote)

PDH March 27, 2011 at 11:31 am

Reminds me of the point that atheist comedian, Richard Herring makes in the climax to his show, Christ On a Bike:

Imagine I was a jew trying to reform my church. That I believed in a life of passive resistance against our oppressors. That I was prepared to die for that belief. Isn’t that more impressive if I was a man, not a God? That I was crucified, and knew that would be the end. I wouldn’t be rising again on Sunday in time for the Hollyoaks omnibus. But even so that I bore my fate with dignity. I didn’t renege on my beliefs. I allowed my enemies to kill me. And did it do them any good? No, by destroying me, the Romans destroyed themselves….. They proved me right.

It’s less of a sacrifice if you know you’re going to be back in three days.

  (Quote)

cl March 27, 2011 at 11:51 am

Ajay,

Uh, okay. I’m not sure what any of these quibbles have to do with the larger point of his research, except to underscore that you don’t like him and therefore his ideas are stupid.

Interesting. I’m not sure what your comment has to do with mine, except to underscore whatever it is you believe about me. Your claim that I “don’t like” Yudkowsky is false. That I take issue with something Yudkowsky says does not entail that I don’t like him, or that his ideas are stupid. You reason fallaciously, when what you should be doing is applying the same skepticism to Yudkowsky that you apply to me. Are you one of the many “party lines atheists” who comment here?

The point is that there was really nothing heroic that Christ did given who he (supposedly) was.

Yeah, I got that. My point is that people should not be allowed to say whatever they wish to help make their case, and, when they do, we have some degree of reason to suspect bias.

  (Quote)

Silas March 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Yeah, I got that. My point is that people should not be allowed to say whatever they wish to help make their case, and, when they do, we have some degree of reason to suspect bias.

Yeah, you’ve convinced me cl. What a bigoted retard he is. Thank you for pointing out that a detail, that isn’t even important to the point he’s making, in a comical example he gave isn’t supported by the Bible. Spot-on smackdown of that mumbling fool.

  (Quote)

cl March 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Silas,

You’ve convinced me that you just might be a “party lines atheist.” How ironic that you simply repeat his mistake, and misrepresent my claim. So rational! Alas, that’s what I get for challenging your faith, I suppose. Can’t you come up with a response that doesn’t rely on misrepresenting what I said? You are the more rational one here, correct?

  (Quote)

Silas March 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm

You’ve convinced me that you just might be a “party lines atheist.” How ironic that you simply repeat his mistake, and misrepresent my claim. So rational! Alas, that’s what I get for challenging your faith, I suppose. Can’t you come up with a response that doesn’t rely on misrepresenting what I said? You are the more rational one here, correct?

cl said: “[...] people should not be allowed to say whatever they wish to help make their case, and, when they do, we have some degree of reason to suspect bias.”

Silas said: cl is wrong claiming that we should suspect bias and cognitive errors (“bigoted retard”) when someone writes something like that (“[...] a detail, that isn’t even important to the point he’s making, in a comical example he gave isn’t supported by the Bible.”).

How am I misrepresenting your claims?

So very tedious to deal with people that pull out the misrepresentation card… If I misrepresented your claims, how is it possible for you to infer from my highly sarcastic and metaphorical comment that I’m misrepresenting your claims? I could also pull out that card and say “Yeah, Bible thumper, return when you’ve learnt proper representation.”

  (Quote)

Forrest March 27, 2011 at 3:14 pm

cl,

You jumped all over Eliezer and called what he wrote “irrational,” “non-sense,” and “pathetic.” What kind of major rationality error did he happen to make to initiate such a response? Well, as you pointed out, one of the statements he made in a humorous, stylistically illustrative example of Jesus’s alleged miracles turns out to not be literally true (according to the text). Wow, next thing you’re going to tell me he never actually “xeroxed bread” either, or that “Romans a problem?” isn’t actually a complete sentence. Seriously, you’re nit picking man. If you have some actual problem with something Eliezer has written, state your objection. But calling someone “pathetic” or saying what they’ve written is “non-sense” just because a trivial reference he made to some book is incorrect, is really weak. You know that the error you called him on in no way relates to epistemic rationality or to the correctness or incorrectness of his message. And when you jump all over him for a little mistake like that you miss the forest for the trees and part of me thinks it’s on purpose.

  (Quote)

cl March 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Hilarious. Instead of, you know, actually conceding that Yudkowsky may have departed from pure rationality here, you “skeptics” jump all over me instead. Should I assume that 100% rationality is too high a standard? Why do atheists who comment here give each other a free pass? It’s the same with Fyfe’s latest screed. Are atheists somehow exempt from the rules? What gives?

Silas,

So very tedious to deal with people that pull out the misrepresentation card…

I agree, that’s why I try my best to reserve it for those instances where it is warranted.

How am I misrepresenting your claims?

Well, one would think it obvious, but I didn’t say anything about “bigoted retard.” You wildly exaggerated my claims in order to make me look bad. Pretty pathetic.

I could also pull out that card and say “Yeah, Bible thumper, return when you’ve learnt proper representation.”

I agree. You’ve already proven that you can–and will–say whatever you want to make a point. Unless you can show that Yudkowsky actually didn’t depart from pure rationality here, I suggest you move on to something more fruitful.

Forrest,

What kind of major rationality error did he happen to make to initiate such a response?

I didn’t say he made a major rationality error. Are minor errors sensical?

If you have some actual problem with something Eliezer has written, state your objection.

I did. You’ve dismissed it as “nit-picking.” I note your opinion, and disagree.

But calling someone “pathetic” or saying what they’ve written is “non-sense” just because a trivial reference he made to some book is incorrect, is really weak.

I didn’t call anybody pathetic, nor did I imply that all of what Eliezer has written is nonsense. Contrary, most of it is very sensical. I don’t care if you think my criticism is weak. Opinions are like… well, you know the rest.

You know that the error you called him on in no way relates to epistemic rationality or to the correctness or incorrectness of his message.

False. I know that the error I called him on relates directly to overcoming bias–which is, in fact, Yudkowsky’s larger message. Don’t miss the forest for the trees.

And when you jump all over him for a little mistake like that you miss the forest for the trees and part of me thinks it’s on purpose.

So, you assume that because I pointed out something you deem trivial, that I’m ignorant of Yudkowsky’s message regarding true courage? If that’s the case, you, too, depart from pure rationality, and when you jump all over me instead of saying, “Yeah, he probably could have done better there,” I’m equally suspicious.

Quit making excuses. Both of you.

  (Quote)

Forrest March 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm

cl: “Eliezer Yudkowsky gets to say whatever non-sense he wants to prove his point sometimes…Pretty pathetic if you ask me.”

I’m sorry but you absolutely did call him pathetic and claimed he said something that was non-sense. Look, you’ve made it clear that you are not a fan of Eliezer and that’s absolutely fine. But it seems like you are reading his posts with a motivated skepticism, finding one small problem that has nothing to do rationality, and then freaking out about how he’s pathetic, and writes non-sense, and isn’t the true messiah of rationality.

You claim I should say, “yeah, he probably could have done better there.” Fine, no one is beyond improvement. But that is exactly what I mean by you nit-picking. If Eliezer had been alerted of his mistake and fixed it before posting would the post have actually been improved in any significant way? Would it make the message clearer for readers? Would the readers learn anything of importance relative to the unfixed post? Of course not. I don’t care what some story in a silly book says about Jesus and I doubt Eliezer or anyone else at Less Wrong does either. I’d much rather Eliezer spend fifteen extra minutes reading the MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science in researching his blog post than completely wasting that time checking the gospel according to Matthew to make sure his half joking example of Jesus’s miracles was actually accurate. The specifics of Jesus and the Romans are completely irrelevant to the point of the posting. And you writing a huge comment trying to tear him up for that mistake is the very definition of nitpicking.

  (Quote)

Forrest March 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm

By the way, I’d never claim that Yudkowsky or anyone is 100% rational. But if you think pure rationality is just knowing a lot of facts about a lot of different things (like what Jesus did or didn’t do according to Matthew) and never misspeaking about these facts, then I think you and I just mean entirely different things by the word.

  (Quote)

Ajay March 27, 2011 at 9:16 pm

cl,

1. The point was that your extremely (as usual) bombastic and insulting comment just pretty much revealed to every thinking person here that you dislike Yudkowsky and are letting your feelings get in the way of being able to judge what he wrote in a non-biased way. Look back at your own comment. How does that read to you?

2. Calling everyone who disagrees with you a “party line atheist” just makes you come off like a child.

  (Quote)

cl March 27, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Forrest,

I’m sorry but you absolutely did call him pathetic…

False. Quit letting your confirmation bias mislead you.

…and claimed he said something that was non-sense.

Correct. He did say something that was nonsense, and I’ve not once denied that.

…it seems like you are reading his posts with a motivated skepticism, finding one small problem that has nothing to do rationality, and then freaking out about how he’s pathetic, and writes non-sense, and isn’t the true messiah of rationality.

Forrest, slow down for three seconds and look at your own posts here: I said that the error I mentioned was pathetic nonsense. That does not entail the position you attribute to me: that Eliezer Yudkowsky is pathetic, and writes non-sense, overall. He writes a lot of great stuff. I’ve said that before, and I’ll say it again. However, I’m not here to stroke his ego. Quit trying to make this about the man. It’s not.

If Eliezer had been alerted of his mistake and fixed it before posting would the post have actually been improved in any significant way?

Yes. It would have been less wrong, and that is–undeniably–what he aspires to.

Would it make the message clearer for readers?

Yes. There would have been less polemic in need of cutting through. Had he corrected that mistake before posting, he would have taken the ammo right out of my gun, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

Would the readers learn anything of importance relative to the unfixed post? Of course not.

It’s what they wouldn’t have learned that matters. As it is, those who accepted the post unchallenged run the risk of walking away thinking that Jesus really did endorse that strategy, when that is wrong. Are you really going to deny the inverse ratio between trust and skepticism? There are many who trust Eliezer to be rational, simply because he so often is, and those people may have let their guard down.

I don’t care what some story in a silly book says about Jesus and I doubt Eliezer or anyone else at Less Wrong does either.

Well then, that’s your bias, and you need to overcome it, so you can be less wrong.

…you writing a huge comment trying to tear him up for that mistake is the very definition of nitpicking.

Assert your opinion all you want. Nitpicking would be harping on a spelling error, like somebody alluded to earlier. Exposing a false claim that likely resulted from bias is not nitpicking, especially when it comes from a person whose entire MO is overcoming bias.

You claim I should say, “yeah, he probably could have done better there.” Fine, no one is beyond improvement.

Thank you. I’m content to leave it there. That simple, warranted concession could have saved us both some time.

  (Quote)

cl March 27, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Ajay,

The point was that your extremely (as usual) bombastic and insulting comment just pretty much revealed to every thinking person here that you dislike Yudkowsky and are letting your feelings get in the way of being able to judge what he wrote in a non-biased way.

If that’s what you think, then, you’re not a thinking person, at least not at this point in time. You’ve got this completely wrong, on two counts: 1) I do not dislike Yudkowsky; 2) I have not let my feelings lead to a biased judgment of what he wrote.

Look back at your own comment. How does that read to you?

I have, a few times. It reads like somebody mildly annoyed at a double-standard. There are no shortage of them on this blog, yet, time and time again, atheists are content to just sweep them under the rug.

Calling everyone who disagrees with you a “party line atheist” just makes you come off like a child.

Get real. There are plenty of atheists and non-believers I disagree with here that don’t receive that criticism [cf. woodchuck64]. Exaggerating to bolster your case makes you come off as a party lines atheist. I mean, here are you are accusing me of bias, when you can’t even keep my comments in proper scope. That’s pathetic. Look, I don’t know if you are a “party lines atheist” or not, but you sure are coming across like it. Forrest, at least thus far, has convinced me that he’s not.

Why can’t you just admit that EY departed from pure rationality, and leave it at that? Why is that so hard for you?

  (Quote)

Alex Petrov March 28, 2011 at 1:43 am

I don’t understand why people are getting into an argument with cl. He’s arguing semantics. Anything you say to him simply fuels his fire, he’s got a whole lot more paragraphs and sentences to selectively respond to. Simply put, he’s a quote-miner.

  (Quote)

Ajay March 28, 2011 at 5:12 am

Dear Senator McCarthy,

In response to your recent letter on [Redacted], I would like to state – for the record – that I have never been a card-carrying member of the Party Line Atheists. I thank you for the opportunity to clear my name.

Sincerely yours in the beneficent grace of Almighty Christ,
Ajay

  (Quote)

Louis March 28, 2011 at 8:33 am

This all just serves to heighten my suspicion that the more intelligent one is, the more likely they might be to overlook the biases and cognitive errors they’re prone to pointing out in others. It’s that whole “false confidence” thing.

Now I see why people ignore you.

  (Quote)

Silas March 28, 2011 at 8:52 am

Well, one would think it obvious, but I didn’t say anything about “bigoted retard.” You wildly exaggerated my claims in order to make me look bad. Pretty pathetic.

Well, one would think it obvious, but I didn’t say anything about you saying that he’s a “bigoted retard”.

I agree. You’ve already proven that you can–and will–say whatever you want to make a point. Unless you can show that Yudkowsky actually didn’t depart from pure rationality here, I suggest you move on to something more fruitful.

Making a trivial joke (which doesn’t reference the Bible correctly) doesn’t depart from pure rationality. If I’ve read Yudkowsky right, “pure rationality” is something like applying Bayesian reasoning to every thinking matter. That quote doesn’t even come close.

  (Quote)

cl March 28, 2011 at 11:07 am

This is hilarious. It’s as if I’ve offended the cultists by criticizing their leader. You guys are exemplifying fundamentalist church mentality, to the tee. The only one of you I give any props to whatsoever is Forrest, who could at least admit what was true, despite our disagreement on other matters.

Alex Petrov,

False misrepresentation to score rhetorical points against the object of one’s personal bias is not semantics, and it appears you don’t know what quote-mining means. Or, if you do, you’re just grasping at straws to make me look bad. I challenge you to provide evidence of a single quote mine here. Else, can the naked accusation.

Ajay,

Dear Senator McCarthy,

Right, while you guys gang up on me for speaking my mind. Talk about ironic.

Louis,

Now I see why people ignore you.

You commit the fallacy of cherrypicking. In truth, there are plenty of people who don’t ignore me, and who think I make good points here and there, but that’s besides the point. Do you deny that the more intelligent one is, the more likely they might be to overlook the biases and cognitive errors they’re prone to pointing out in others? I’m under the assumption that we all suffer from some degree of bias and cognitive error, despite intelligence. Prove to me that you can actually carry a conversation as opposed to spewing polemic and fallacy.

Silas,

Well, one would think it obvious, but I didn’t say anything about you saying that he’s a “bigoted retard”.

Then why the non-sequitur if you’re so rational? It’s bad enough that you propagate a slur against the mentally handicapped to make your point.

Making a trivial joke (which doesn’t reference the Bible correctly) doesn’t depart from pure rationality.

Oh, well excuse me then. I guess you subscribe to a definition of rationality which condones false misrepresentation to score rhetorical points against the object of one’s personal bias.

  (Quote)

Ajay March 28, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Yes, you’re right, I attacked you for speaking your mind. That’s what I did.

  (Quote)

zaarcis March 29, 2011 at 5:13 am

Lol-discussion. :D
Thanks to trollish cl. :)

  (Quote)

Leave a Comment