Re: On pretending to be Wise

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Aug 31 2006 - 01:09:25 MDT

Russell Wallace wrote:
> 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?

My dear sir, all of us pretend, from time to time, and in our own ways,
to be Wise. If you look at my elaborate poetic email, I can hardly
claim to have not been pretending to be Wise. Truly none of us are
greater sinners than any other.

> 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.

It disturbs me that people who do not strike me as obviously stupid,
cannot tell the difference between myself and Loosemore. Has Loosemore
given you the hundredth part of the substance which I have given you, by
which to judge us and our theories? Are people *that* susceptible to a
line of plausible patter about Complex Systems?

> 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_.

I should never have told you about the sophisticated arguer effect; it
transformed you into a sophisticated arguer.

"You have just made an Intelligence+Charisma roll against yourself" or
"You have used your intelligence to defeat itself" is a fully generic
accusation, that can be leveled against anyone, at any time, without
supporting detail; its sole function is to let you refute those and only
those ideas which you dislike.

Please note, for example, the fashion in which I specify how you have
made yourself a sophisticated arguer, rather than, say, my making a
generic accusation "Why look, you're Pretending to be Wise". Which I
actually would consider this a case of, in a different style; that of
shaking your head sadly, in a generic way, over how someone has misused
their intelligence. Bearing in mind that speaking poetically is also a
form of Pretending to be Wise - the idiom takes more than one form.

Those wondering what this whole discussion is about should consult

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

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