Re: Books on rationality

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Jun 06 2002 - 17:28:30 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> > Abduction is observing something which is true, then increasing
> > the support
> > of those hypotheses which are compatible with the observation.
> > This form of
> > cognition is similar to "rationalization"; and rationalization can
> > manipulate slack in hypotheses to change their predictions post
> > facto; which
> > is why science requires prediction *before* the fact.
> Science does not REQUIRE prediction before the fact, it only prefers it.
> Well-known counterexamples are:
> -- The theory of the evolution of species by natural selection
> -- Cosmology: the theory of the origin of the universe
> Neither of these, at this point, has made any verifiable predictions before
> the fact ;>

Cosmology is not my field, but I find your statement astounding with respect
to the evolution of species. It is true that it is difficult to predict, in
advance, the exact DNA sequence, which exact mutations will occur in a
succeeding generation, and so on. But evolution makes very specific
predictions which are not made by the alternate hypotheses of either
intelligent design or Lamarckian adaptation about what *kind* of designs we
expect to see - incrementally evolvable ones - and very tightly constrains
the space of what we expect to see relative to alternative hypotheses. Each
and every time new observations fall within that very tight space and unique
design signature predicted by evolution, and not the spaces and signatures
predicted by Lamarckian inheritance or intelligent design, the theory of
evolution racks up another successful ante facto prediction.

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

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