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

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sun Aug 27 2006 - 23:14:44 MDT

Damien Broderick wrote:
> 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.

I'm sorry you feel that way, Damien. I don't feel that you are stupid,
or ignorant - although possibly just a *little* ignorant of what the
Linda business is really all about, but then we can't all be experts in
everything. Ignorance is not a crime; faking expertise is. It seems
you are not willing to take my word that Loosemore has demonstrated
total ignorance; but I would ask, Damien, that you read a serious book
on heuristics and biases - not a magazine article, or a summary paper,
but something that clearly sets forth and conveys the basic principles
and standard interpretation of the field - before you judge Loosemore
wise, or myself a fool for wishing to cast him out. Because what
Loosemore said was frankly pretty damn stupid, if you happen to be
acquainted with the field. Not that that's a crime, but dropping the
names of famous scientists with whom you are personally acquainted,
*is*. Whether or not it's a lie, it's a crime in my book. It doesn't
matter to me whether these people have ever even heard of Loosemore, or
not; what matters is the imposture of pretending to be an expert.

There are plenty of people on SL4 who disagree with me, and whose
methods of arguing I sometimes don't like, such as Russell Wallace for
example. The difference between Russell and Loosemore seems pretty
clear to me, though. And on this list are also men and women who
sometimes agree with me, and who don't deserve to be called "fanboys"
for that crime, regardless of your opinion of me personally.

I am furthermore skeptical that the list is "drifting" in such a
direction. I don't see any trend of increasing agreement from 2000 to
now. The *notion* that this list is intolerant of disagreement could do
some harm, though, which is why I am emphasizing that I do not,
pragmatically, see any hint that this is the case. Did everyone rally
round to denounce Loosemore, once it became clear that he was persona
non grata with the great Eliezer? No. This list is as tolerant as ever
of disagreement - but there are some misdeeds I won't tolerate, *even
if* they're committed by someone who also happens to violently disagree
with me. My desire to keep the list clean takes precedence over my wish
to look wise and tolerant.

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

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