RE: On Geddes

From: pdugan (
Date: Tue Jul 19 2005 - 11:17:38 MDT

In defense of the dissenter; sure, he has crappy logic, but I find him in a
role more dignified than mere canary, Geddes is a holistic thinking contrarian
on a list dominated by reductive logical positivists. If a movie were made
about the intellectual tribulations of this movement, Geddes would be the guy
that gets the cliched slow clap going at a moment of high emotion and poetry.
That clap might serve to rally the masses to a counter-productive
anthropomorphic attitude, but hey, thats entertainment.

-Patrick Dugan

>===== Original Message From "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <>
>A few people have asked me why I haven't removed Marc Geddes from the list.
>First, he doesn't swear at people and he spells correctly. This counts for
>lot* in whether someone stays on SL4.
>Second, when someone obeys basic netiquette, I am biased against rejecting
>them from the list because their opinions conflict with mine. There's some
>known phenomena in social psychology that say: Leave the outliers in! Not
>because they are valuable in their own right, but their presence shows that
>dissent is tolerated, and mainstream people feel freer to express opinions
>that leave the mainstream. If Geddes were not the list oddball, someone else
>would be, and then people would ask why that person was still on the list,
>then when that person was gone, someone else would be the list oddball...
>Third, Geddes makes a good, *clear* example of how *not* to do things. Fewer
>serious posters have appealed to intuition to support their statements on AI
>since Geddes made "intuition" look very silly, showing it could be used to
>support completely arbitrary assertions. I still wish that people understood
>*why* "intuition" is a poor way of arguing, but failing that, it's better
>they think the argument will make them look silly. "Not *looking* stupid" is
>the closest thing most people have to a grasp on rationality, and Geddes
>make "intuition" *look* stupid. Geddes has also helped show the folly of
>believing that you understand everything but not being able to express it
>mathematically, like those other guys can who are admittedly clever but alas
>not so intuitively gifted as Geddes; may this encourage us all to study the
>math. I realized that I could not get away with calling Bayesian probability
>theory "the Way of cutting through to the correct answer"; it was nice
>but Geddes rapidly appropriated "The Way" and started turning it into his own
>gibberish, which tells me the effect nice poetry has on weak minds. Think of
>Geddes as the SL4 List Canary. His function is to fall over first when
>start wandering into dangerous territory.
>However, I would emphasize that nobody needs to reply to Geddes's more
>incomprehensible screeds. If Geddes doesn't have to work at being
>comprehensible to get a response - just like I or any other author has to
>at being comprehensible - then he will only wander off farther into the far
>spaces, and that's not helping him. When Geddes seems to be going completely
>nuts, just watch and learn what not to do.
>Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
>Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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