Re: The Conjunction Fallacy Fallacy [WAS Re: Anti-singularity spam.]

From: Charles D Hixson (
Date: Sun Aug 27 2006 - 13:56:10 MDT

Damien Broderick wrote:
> At 02:20 PM 8/27/2006 -0400, Mark Waser wrote:
>> You have apparently modeled Richard's argument as simplistic and
>> lacking your deep understanding of the field. Unfortunately, the
>> evidence that I have seen indicates that he has understood and
>> answered 100% of your arguments whereas you have clearly refused to
>> address his arguments once they reach the point of (successully)
>> answering your initial knee-jerk responses. I see no evidence of
>> your having any more understanding of the field than he does and
>> indeed actually note that you seem to need to be constantly trying to
>> steer the conversation from the field that Richard initially brought
>> up (mental modeling) to one that you are more comfortable with
>> (heuristics and biases) -- despite the fact that the relevance of
>> this change is obviously disputable.
> I dislike "me too" posts, but in this case Mark has captured
> skillfully pretty much all the objections that I had been intending to
> raise to Eliezer's intemperate and indeed preposterous post. No doubt
> this will have no better effect than to persuade Eliezer and his
> fanboys that Richard, Mark and I are all far too stupid and ignorant
> to be bothered conversing with. It was fairly inevitable that the list
> would end up drifting in this direction, but I still regard that as a
> great shame.
> Damien Broderick
When the emotional level is raise, reasoned discourse declines.
Abruptly. To me it seemed that Richard was the one who initially raised
the emotional level, but I wasn't paying close attention. Certainly his
continuations became more intensely emotional.

I can't claim to expertise in either of the fields that are under
discussion, so I didn't try to follow the details beyond the first
couple of rounds of posting. (I also suspect that natural systems
aren't highly optimized..or at least that one can't count on that.
Local optimization happens, of course, but basic designs don't tend to
be revised, so one should EXPECT systems to be globally sub-optimal.
(E.g., the nerves in front of the retina, the trachea where separated
passages would be preferable, etc.) I see no reason to expect that
patterns of thought would be any less subject to this effect.

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