Re: How You Do Not Tell the Truth

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sun May 06 2001 - 16:34:35 MDT

Samantha Atkins wrote:
> Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:
> >
> > Essentially, Robin's paper gives a rigorous mathematical proof that for
> > two people to (a) disagree and (b) maintain their disagreement after
> > interaction, one or both of the parties must believe that they are more
> > likely to be rational than the other person. This does not necessarily
> > prove irrationality in *all* cases but it proves irrationality for *most*
> > cases. If we take into account the evolutionary-psychology arguments,
> > Robin's paper makes a strong case for a built-in irrationality factor
> > common to all humans.
> This seems a bit strained to me. That A has a strong argument for X
> that I cannot defeat logically does not compel me to accept X at that
> time.

No, it doesn't. The paper has nothing to do with "You do not accept A's
arguments therefore you must be irrational." Rather, it's "You do not
accept A's arguments, therefore you must believe that A is more irrational
than you are" - a belief that is, of course, often correct. In essence,
Robin's paper demonstrates that everyone believes themselves to be more
meta-rational than average; or rather, acts as if they believed so.

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

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