Re: Open Letter to Lee Crocker

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Wed, 21 Jul 1999 21:47:46 -0500 wrote:
> On Tue, 20 July 1999, "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> > Open letter, huh? Well, for what it's worth, Crocker's right and you're
> > wrong. You're insufficiently skeptical and most of the "mysteries"
> > you've been posting about are known loads of crap.
> There is a fine line between being sufficiently skeptical
> and blindly assuming something isn't the case.

Yes, I know. There are people who disbelieve in psychic powers because said powers are "unscientific", the same kind of people who are willing to suppress their own mistakes because they don't want to give psychics "ammunition". I'm talking specifically about James Randi, CSICOP, and the infamous sTARBABY fiasco.

That's not why I disbelieve in psychic powers; I disbelieve in them because nobody's done anything useful with the concept. I believe in science, not because it's rational or logical or otherwise morally good, but because science works. It produces socks, electric motors and nuclear weapons. Psychic powers don't work because psychics don't win the lottery. QED.

> Just because I don't believe
> in psychic powers either, does not mean I must dogmatically believe
> they don't exist because of insufficient evidence. The only rational choice
> left is *to not believe in anything*.

And I don't. (I doubt Lee Crocker does either.) I simply use the minimum number of tentative differentials - statements of the form "A is more probable than B" - that I need to choose between actions.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way