Re: Dangerous questions (Was: META: Neanderthal attitudes)

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Mon, 27 Sep 1999 19:53:48 -0500

David Lubkin wrote:
> And what percentage of Americans truly understand that statistically valid results
> say nothing about how an individual should be treated?

I think this is *the* key question. After all, one can imagine shooting 90% of all Unitarians in such a way that the new "statistical curve" describing the remaining populatio n's IQs is one standard deviation to the left. But have any individuals changed? Obviously not. If we shoot the ones with low IQs instead, so that curve shifts to the right, do the remaining Unitarians become smarter? Again, no.

That's why I try (when dealing with transhumanist audiences, of course) to say "gaussian human" rather than "normal human" or "average human" - to remind myself, and the audience, that the average human can lie anywhere on the curve.

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