Re: On pretending to be Wise

From: Russell Wallace (
Date: Wed Aug 30 2006 - 23:47:49 MDT

On 8/31/06, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <> wrote:
> To pretend to be Wise, you must always pretend that both sides have
> merit, and solemnly refuse to judge between them. For if you took one
> side or another, why then, you would no longer be one of the aloof Wise,
> but merely another partisan, on a level with all the other mere
> bickerers. As one of the Wise, you are omnipotent on the condition that
> you never exercise your power. Otherwise people would start thinking
> that you were no better than they; and they would no longer hold you in
> awe.

Do you think _I_ fit that stereotype? Or would you agree that even a cursory
glance at my posts confirms that whatever my faults, that does not even
reside in their solar system?

It was obvious to me that the whole flame war was about you and Richard
talking past each other, not about either of you trying to put forward false
statements. Should I have kept to my style of not looking like a
fence-sitter by choosing one side and cursing the other? And if so, which
side? I do not criticize those who saw the merits of one side and therefore
cursed the other; we necessarily interpret only part of what we see, given
that our brains are smaller than the universe. But when I did see the whole
of it, what should I have said?

One time when we disagreed about a certain fine point of the philosophy of
Friendliness, I later came back and said, you were right and I was wrong.
You said, go thou and post a public admission of that on SL4, because apart
from anything else, being able to make such public admissions is an
essential mental health exercise for any AGI researcher; it stops you
attaching your ego too tightly to your current beliefs. Since this statement
was true, I did so.

Right now you're obviously not in gear for admitting error even to yourself
- so it goes; we are mortal men, I've been that way myself. So I won't argue
further on this topic at this time. SL4's record of fair moderation has been
broken; I hope sometime you might see your way to fixing it.

In the meantime though, my advice for what it's worth is this: I was stunned
by the eloquence expended in your post for worse than useless purpose. If
there's one habit you need to get out of, it's that of making
Intelligence+Charisma rolls _against yourself_.

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