Re: Chunking intelligence functions (was Re: [Fwd: com-mensa-rate digest#1] )

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Wed May 09 2001 - 15:48:07 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> > I'd trust an amateur reader of "The Adapted
> > Mind" over any academic trained in the "soft" social sciences when it
> > comes to knowing, for example, "whether the brain has domain specificity
> > or is a general learning machine", because it is known that the standard
> > social sciences model is blatantly untrue, for political reasons, with
> > respect to that particular question.
> This strikes me as a rather absurd statement. I grew up around academics
> trained in the social sciences and I can assure you that they hold a very
> wide variety of views -- much wider, for example, than the set of views
> represented on this e-mail list.

Isn't that a bad thing? I mean, doesn't holding a "wide variety of views"
mean that at most one of them is right, all the others are wrong, and that
they don't have enough evidence to constrain the space of their theories?
This isn't actually my argument in this instance, but it deserves pointing

Anyway, I have no way of contradicting the assertion that "many social
scientists are in tune with modern cognitive science, modular neurology,
and evolutionary psychology", or that "academic freedom in the social
sciences is such that most of the smart ones have already abandoned the
Standard Social Sciences Model in favor of the Integrated Causal Model
proposed by Tooby and Cosmides in _The Adapted Mind_." I simply state
that I have yet to see such a tendency show up in either the popular press
or Eurekalert press releases, which I realize could both be dissociated
from the mainstream academia.

In any case, my statement holds true, not because of conformity among
academics in the soft sciences, but because the central,
taught-in-textbooks dogma of those academic fields is flagrantly wrong.
Whether academics are tightly or loosely distributed around this prototype
- whether they are all wrong in the same way, or whether only 90% of them
are wrong (in different ways) and the remaining 10% have converged to
normal science - the average amateur reader of the *correct* formulation
found in mid-level evolutionary psychology will still be more reliable
than a randomly chosen academic in a soft science.

> In fact this statement of your strikes me as a flagrantly wrong attitude
> that is directly attributable to corruption by political influences ;>

Perhaps. I'm not sure you're entirely free from SSSM contamination
yourself, which may account for some of it.

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

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