Re: SOC/BIO/POL: International Forum on Globalization conference

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Feb 06 2001 - 12:59:28 MST

When you're writing a paper, the rule is that you don't appeal to emotion;
an appeal to emotion indicates that an idea cannot be supported by appeal
to rationality. The idea of appealing to an emotion or intuition as a
*valid shortcut* for the rational argument is neither widespread nor
popular. An appeal to emotion can be used to prove wrong ideas as easily
as right ideas, so the scientific community is very reluctant to appeal to
emotion for any reason; it seems (intuitively, ironically enough) to fall
under "the end does not justify the means". How could you be sure that
you were resorting to an emotional appeal as a cognitive isomorph of the
full rational argument, and not because your argument was weak, or because
you gave into the temptation to manipulate the audience? You'd need to
know - not abstractly, but perceptually - the complete cognitive structure
of the emotional appeal. Evolutionary psychology is neither advanced
enough, nor widespread enough in the scientific community, for
technophiles to feel confident of competence in that domain.

So technophobes, who don't even have the concepts to describe those kind
of scruples, much less be bound by them, can tear the living daylights out
of technophiles on television; a technophobe can fire off ten strongly
resonating arguments in the time it takes a technophile to describe vis
initial assumptions.

If the scientific community decides that it's okay to argue emotionally,
technophilia will win a lot more political arguments. But there would be
a cost to the effectiveness of the scientific community at large. So far,
there are only a few speakers experimenting with the idea that it is
possibly to ethically argue using a deliberate understanding of emotional
and intuitive structure.

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

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