Re: Everything I know is wrong

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Wed Jan 04 2006 - 11:55:28 MST

Eliezer, Michael,

Oh, quit your pessimism! :-)

It is entirely possible for psi to exist and for all of physics to be
the same as it is now, plus some extras. What on earth makes you think
this is impossible? Physicists themselves are, I think, a good deal
less upset by the idea of psi than you are, so you why are you getting
so upset and gloomy on their behalf?

[Quick example of one exotic way to integrate physics and psi. It turns
out that the laws of the universe are almost all local, but in addition
there is at least one weak effect that is not local at all, and that is
that "representational" entities like human minds tend to get into sync
with the things in the world they are representing. So if someone
imagines a tomorrow in which they have a greater than average score on a
psi test, there is some tendency for the imagined tomorrow and the real
tomorrow. So the test result comes out the way the subject wants, more
often than it should. Notice that theoretical physicists *do* *not*
rule out the existence of non-local effects in the universe (there is no
law that says they must not occur), they just say that so far they have
not needed them. Such non-local things (where one entity that is not
located at a single point in space influences some other part of the
universe) could easily exist so long as the effects were not gross:
there is enough wiggle room in current theories of physics to allow for
quantum events to almost always obey regular quantum mechanics, but with
the probabilities being slightly skewed. And if this seems like crazy
talk, go listen to some theoretical physicists discuss the latest ideas
about time travel, where some of them have come up with the notion that
maybe full-up, no-nonsense time travel is possible, but the universe
simply adjusts itself to accommodate and deflect any events that would
cause a time paradox!].

And on a more general point: I wish people wouldn't keep talking as if
the lack of a theoretical underpinning means anything whatsoever for the
validity of experimental data. You do that, you throw science to the dogs.

Richard Loosemore.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> Michael Vassar wrote:
>> Those assumptions may be wrong.
>> I don't even know how, as a human, to assign a probability to the
>> possibility that they are wrong.
>> But I do know that if they are wrong then "everything I know is wrong".
> If psi is *not* part of the world, as I believe, then it may not be
> possible to make psi part of the world without everything else being
> wrong. Lies need not be consistent with truth, and a single
> contradiction proves everything. Reality, on the other hand, is always
> consistent with reality; there are many maps but only one territory; and
> apples did not stop falling when Einstein's *theory* overthrew Newton's
> *theory*. So if psi was real, then there would be some way to integrate
> psi such that not everything else we knew would be wrong - apples would
> not stop falling. It is only because psi is not real that you think
> that psi would invalidate everything, and it is because psi would
> invalidate everything that you think it is not real. This is, in cold
> sober fact, circular logic, or more kindly a consistent worldview, and
> there is the possibility of both arcs of the loop being invalidated
> simultaneously.
>> From my perspective, from decision theory for humans purposes, the
>> entire huge space of universe states describable as "everything I know
>> is wrong" simply renormalizes out of my decision function.
>> It's not worth our talking about it.
> "Everything you know is wrong" has been true through quite a lot of
> human history, at least in the sense of being able to encompass things
> just as shocking as magic - such as the total absence of magic. In
> fact, most people still haven't come to terms with the total absence of
> magic, which tells you something about how shocking it is.

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