Re: Michael Anissimov's 'Shock Level Analysis'

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 16:30:36 MST

aominux wrote:
> Yes, because, obviously we are right and everyone else is wrong.
> You're a model fanatical terrorist.
> Sorry for the non-contributory message, but this guy is way out of line.
> Even if you're absolutely sure you're right, you MUST exercise tolerance.
> You can't say you're right and everyone else is wrong, because right and
> wrong are mutually exclusive undefined terms and, furthermore,
> opinion-based.
> The last thing we need are wacko Singulatarian-fundamentalists making the
> world dislike our cause. Be gentle.
> -aominux

But of course this reply is equally and exactly wrong; it is the other
side of what ends up being the same coin. That we employ many different
models of reality does not mean that there are many realities; there is
only one reality, and "right" and "wrong" are terms which measure the
nearness of a model to reality. To walk the path of rationality means
employing a series of successive approximations to reality, always being
ready to discard one approximation when the better one is found. Absolute
confidence in self-rightness, and the denial of objective reality in the
name of cultural tolerance, are both equally internal excuses for
retaining a flawed model instead of exposing it to the uncomfortable
process of testing. It is a false dichotomy propagated by both cultural
relativists and believers that the only alternative to seeing the universe
as black and white is to see it as uniformly grey. If everything is a
shade of grey, it does not follow that all greys are the same shade; this
merely replaces a two-color model with a one-color model. Some greys may
be close enough to white for all practical purposes, although no true
perfectionist would ever confess to such a thing; after all, "adequate in
fact, as it turned out" is not the same as "knowable, in advance, as being

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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