Director of Research at PAISRI
I think the obvious caveat here is that many people can’t do this because they have restrictions that have taken them away from the mean. For example, allergies, sensitivities, and ethical or cultural restrictions on what they eat. They can do a limited version of the intervention of course (for example, if only eating plants, eat all the plants you don’t eat now and stop eating the plants you currently eat), although I wonder if that would have similar effects or not because it’s already so constrained.
Echoing something in Viliam’s comment, but I think this is looking at the wrong category. It seems like there’s no correlation because Christianity is too broad a category of religions with a common history. Instead, the right comparison seems to be Protestantism vs. not.
Even within Protestantism I think there’s a lot of room for variation. For example, there might be a correlation with certain branches of Protestant Christianity and not with others.
All of this makes it very hard to tell how much was causally the result of Protestant Christianity or even just particular denominations vs. larger cultural forces of which those denominations were downstream.
I argue that for this it doesn’t, i.e. my case for how the problem of the criterion gets resolved is that you can’t help but be pragmatic because that’s a description of how epistemology is physically instantiated in our universe. The only thing you might lose value on is if you have some desire to resolve metaphysical questions and you stop short of resolving them then of course you will fail to receive the full value possible because you didn’t get the answer. I argue that getting such answers is impossible, but nonetheless trying to find them may be worthwhile to someone.
Thinking about this topic, one thing I find interesting is how much we reinforce our own ideas of what the “right” way to be a family is.
A good example is the way, living and growing up in what is classified here as Absolute Nuclear culture, that all of the following were explicitly said by people around me to emphasize that other family systems were wrong:
cousin marriage is backwards, especially close cousin marriage (it’s a thing hicks, low class, stupid people do)
the idea that living at home with your parents once you are an adult means you’re a failure
parents who try to exert too much authority on their children are brutish and controlling and trying to live through their children
having more than one sexual partner is greedy (only high status, wealthy people should be able to get away with it, and even then only as long as they do it in secret)
I’ve also heard people complain about how Absolute Nuclear culture, from the perspective of other family cultures, is:
selfish (puts the individual above the care of the family)
weak or foolish (doesn’t exert authority or take the partners a person is entitled to)
So regardless of if Todd gets the categories right, it does seem that there is something going on here with self-reinforcing cultures about family system norms that is more than religious beliefs being imposed on people (as opposed to religions imposing the family system, even if they do, they don’t seem especially likely to be the leader, but rather to follow the culture).
The areas where they don’t work coincide with philosophical concerns.
As always, this is an interesting topic, because many of the philosophical concerns I can think of here end up being questions about metaphysics (i.e. what is the nature of stuff that lies beyond your epistemic ability to resolve the question) and I think there’s some reason perspective by which you might say that metaphysics “doesn’t matter”, i.e. it’s answers to questions that, while interesting, knowing the answer to them doesn’t change what actions you take in the world because we already can know enough to figure out practical answers that serve our within-world purposes.
Poetic summary: priors lay heavy.
And yet, despite epistemic circularity being our epistemic reality up to our circularly reasoned limited ability to assess that this is in fact the situation we find ourselves in, we manage to reason anyway.
Isn’t the most important feature of an “internal map” that it is a conceptual and subjective thing, and not a physical thing? Obviously this smacks of dualism, but that’s the price we pay for being able to communicate at all.
And yet such an “internal” thing must have some manifestation embedded within the physical world. However it is often a useful abstraction to ignore the physical details of how information is created and stored.
I do think it is is true that in principle “there is no objective difference between a book containing a painstakingly accurate account of a particular battle, and another book of carelessly assembled just-so stories about the same battle” (emphasis mine). With sufficiently bizarre coincidence of contexts, they could even be objectively identical objects. We can in practice say that in some expected class of agents (say, people from the writer’s culture who are capable of reading) interacting in expected ways (like reading it instead of burning it for heat), the former will almost certainly convey more knowledge about the battle than the latter.
I think this begs the question of just what knowledge is.
Agreed. I think this basically makes concerns about “iff” being mistaken for “if” irrelevant and trying to make a better shorthand for “if and only if” is a distraction with insufficient impact for most anyone to trouble themselves with.
I’m not convinced there’s an actual distinction to be made here.
Using your mass comparison example, arguably the only meaningful different between the two is where information is stored. In search-in-map it’s stored in an auxiliary system; in search-in-territory it’s embedded in the system. The same information is still there, though, all that’s changed is the mechanism, and I’m not sure map and territory is the right way to talk about this since both are embedded/embodied in actual systems.
My guess is that search-in-map looks like a thing apart from search-in-territory because of perceived dualism. You give the example of counterfactuals being in the map rather than the territory, but the map is itself still in the territory (as I’m sure you know), so there’s no clear sense in which counterfactuals and the models that enable them are not physical processes. Yes, we can apply an abstraction to temporarily ignore the physical process, which is maybe what you mean to get at, but it’s still a physical process all the same.
It seems to me maybe the interesting thing is whether you can talk about a search algorithm in terms of particular kinds of abstractions rather than anything else, which if you go far enough around comes back to your position, but with more explained.
Reminds me a lot about how Zen training works. Much of the value of a sesshin (several days where you do nothing much other than meditate) is the persistent lack of distractions or other stimulation: you just have to keep coming back, sitting still, and being with yourself, eating the same bland food, doing the same chores, over and over for days. It sounds awful, and at first it is, until you break/surrender and give yourself over to the fact that this is how the world is, and in that space deep meditative states and realization often emerge.
I think you get it right on PBR and this is an underappreciated point.
My favorite technique of boldness is to simply tell the truth. One trick is to never prefix statements with “I believe”. Don’t say “I believe x”. If x is true then just say “x”. (If x is untrue then don’t say x and don’t believe x.) The unqualified statement is bolder. Crocker’s rules encode boldness into a social norm.
Most people are really bad at epistemology, so saying “I believe” is a useful marker to remind people you’re saying something that could be wrong. Making the bolder statement is more likely to waste your time on things like fighting over categories rather than figuring out how the world actually is. Saying something unqualified is a bid to claim not only something about reality but also about the categories used to describe it, and “I believe” creates some space for the possibility of using other categories (which should always be there, but lots of people are trapped in their own ontologies in ways that prevent them from realizing this, hence they need a reminder).
I have in my mind this idea that direct instruction is the most effective pedagogical method yet invented, but we don’t do it because most existing teachers hate teaching that way. I wonder how, if at all, constructivism could be made to work with it, since otherwise the effectiveness of DI would seem to be another argument against pure constructivism.
I’ve long been somewhat skeptical that utility functions are the right abstraction.
My argument is also rather handwavy, being something like “this is the wrong abstraction for how agents actually function, so even if you can always construct a utility function and say some interesting things about its properties, it doesn’t tell you the thing you need to know to understand and predict how an agent will behave”. In my mind I liken it to the state of trying to code in functional programming languages on modern computers: you can do it, but you’re also fighting an uphill battle against the way the computer is physically implemented, so don’t be surprised if things get confusing.
And much like in the utility function case, people still program in functional languages because of the benefits they confer. I think the same is true of utility functions: they confer some big benefits when trying to reason about certain problems, so we accept the tradeoffs of using them. I think that’s fine so long as we have a morphism to other abstractions that will work better for understanding the things that utility functions obscure.
The first and highest tenet is that all tenets are subject to revision. The ultimate arbiter of this philosophy is the ability to make advance, falsifiable predictions, allowing the universe to judge between competing ideas.
Many philosophies aspire to this, yet somehow we have more than one philosophy. This seems like a good idea in theory, but in practice everything gets anchored on particular ways of looking at the world and are less fluid than we would like. I don’t object to the ideal, but it’s a weird one because in theory every philosophy that includes it seems like it should converge to become the same thing, yet they don’t.
Some particular aspects of existence we’re still a bit confused about.
Namely, any time you ask them to explain consciousness, they shake their head and grumble “Existence is existence! It cannot be explained! It can only be experienced!” While this neatly avoids the argument (by refusing to engage in it), it can certainly be frustrating if you want to understand what consciousness is.
I think this is a bit of an exaggeration of the position. It’s not that no explanation can be given, only that it won’t explain what you’re hoping it will because the thing you were hoping to have explained is not the same as the reality you have reified into a thing. One traditional approach is to give up categories and focus on practice and experience (e.g. Zen), but there’s also traditions that go hard on explaining the inner workings of the mind and providing detailed models of it (e.g. Gelug).
I’ve tried doing this in my writing in the past, of the form of just throw away “I think” all together because it’s redundant: there’s no one thinking up these words but me.
Unfortunately this was a bad choice because many people take bald statements without softening language like “I think” as bids to make claims about how they are or should be perceiving reality, which I mean all statements are but they’ll jump to viewing them as claims of access to an external truth (note that this sounds like they are making an error here by having a world model that supposes external facts that can be learned rather than facts being always conditional on the way they are known (which is not to say there is not perhaps some shared external reality, only that any facts/statements you try to claim about it must be conditional because they live in your mind behind your perceptions, but this is a subtle enough point that people will miss it and it’s not the default, naive model of the world most people carry around anyway)).
I think you’re doing X → you’re doing X
People react to the latter kind of thing as a stronger kind of claim that I would say it’s possible to make.
This doesn’t quite sound like what you want to do, though, and instead want to insert more nuanced words to make it clearer what work “think” is doing.
Oh wow this is a really great breakdown of the song’s structure.
I don’t really know any music theory, but I know a bit about poetry, and I can implicitly piece together how it works and hear whether or not it scans. I could tell there was a lot of weird optionality in this song, where you can shove in extra mora or whole feet in lines or leave them out and it would still scan, but sometimes it wouldn’t. The song’s meter does some weird stuff I don’t really understand, which makes it both easy and hard to match (easy in that it offers a lot of flexibility for creativity, hard in that it’s complex and easy to get wrong if you don’t try singing it).