Paths Forward draft

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Elliot Temple

unread,
Apr 3, 2018, 11:54:23 PM4/3/18
to FI, FIGG
i’m happier with this draft. it’s new material except the first section is edited from the previous draft. i didn’t really clarify the audience in my mind much, but managed to write this anyway. (vaguely, the audience is a smart 20yo who likes the idea of the rational quest for truth and doesn’t know much about philosophy. ofc the same material could work fine for a 50yo who isn’t too closed minded).

what’s missing that’s important to cover? i haven’t yet reread to check for completeness and compare it against my notes to see what points i could add. note i’m not trying to cover everything useful here, just enough for ppl to understand the main points. i’ll add some links to read my other PF writing at the end – someone who likes this enough to want to actually do it can read more essays np.

which parts are unnecessary?

what do you disagree with or find unpersuasive?

note: the essay should read OK on its own, but it isn’t going to be standalone. it will be part of a website with other essays covering evolution, reason, yesno, CR, fallibilism, and a few other things like that. and i will add links to supporting material in this essay.




# Paths Forward

## The Problem

*If I’m mistaken about this idea, how will I find out?*

A **path forward** is an answer to this question. It’s a way to make *progress* – a way to find out about and correct a *mistake*. You should ask this question often because without a good answer you’re at risk of being mistaken and *staying mistaken* in the long term.

A second question to ask is: *What will be the negative consequences if I’m mistaken about this idea?* In other words, what’s at risk?

Paths forward thinking builds on the fallibilist, evolutionary epistemology of **Critical Rationalism** and **Critical Fallibilism**. Learning works by generating ideas and correcting mistakes, so paths forward are a fundamental part of learning. We can’t prove, support or justify our ideas; the best you can say about an idea is that it hasn’t been refuted so far. And we’re fallible – we commonly make mistakes and can never get guarantees that an idea isn’t mistaken – so we should always be taking into account the possibility of mistakes having some plan so we don’t get stuck. *What are you doing about your fallibility, both generally and for individual ideas?*

Create and verbalizing an approach to finding and correcting errors puts us in a better position to analyze and improve it, and to consistently use it.

Reasonable people already try to find and correct their mistaken ideas. Being imperfect, they inevitably miss some mistakes, and make some new mistakes when attempting corrections. And people can’t foresee what will be known in the future, so tons of ideas are actually mistakes from the perspective of the much better knowledge that we hope will exist a million years from now.

So: do your best to seek the truth, try to use good judgement, critically consider your own ideas, and learn about the methods of reason. This is the viewpoint of many smart people, but it’s too vague and doesn’t specify what actions to take.

And there’s a big mistake most smart people are making! Consider this modified question:

*If I’m mistaken about this idea, **and someone else understands the mistake and is willing to share a better idea**, how will I find out?*

If you don’t think of something, that’s fine – you can’t figure everything out. And if no one thinks of something, that’s fine – we all missed it, that’s bound to happen sometimes. But what if someone does figure an issue out, and would be happy to tell you, and you stay mistaken anyway? That’s an *avoidable* failure.

If people could stop missing out on great ideas *which are already known*, that’d be a huge improvement. This is hard because there are a ton of ideas in the world (too many to read through them all, let alone discuss them).

**Paths Forward** explains how people miss opportunities to learn from others, and how to fix this problem. It proposes a better way to *organize* learning and knowledge, including specific actions to do. The goals are to better enable you find and correct your mistakes and to better enable other people to help you.

## The Solution

As you learn, gather written material which you can refer to which expresses what you believe to your satisfaction (you will endorse it and take responsibility for its correctness as if you wrote it yourself). To the extent you either can’t find adequate material, or you create new ideas, then write it yourself.

*Don’t just learn things. Get them in writing.* (In theory, it’s possible to use other mediums, like a video of a lecture, as long as it can be made publicly available on an ongoing basis so that discussions can refer to it. But writing is pretty dominant because it’s the best format. Important video and audio should be transcribed.)

Less than half of this writing should be positive explanations of what you believe and why. You also need answers to potential questions and criticisms, and you need criticisms of contradictory rival positions.

If you build your knowledge this way, it’s easy to answer large numbers of intellectual inquiries: refer people to the pre-existing writing which addresses their question, criticism, or rival idea. Unless someone says something new to you, you can respond to any discussion point with a reference.

This enables you to have public contact info and engage with anyone who thinks you’ve made a mistake. For each of their questions, criticisms and alternative ideas, you already have writing to address it! New ideas will take more thought to address, but will come in at a manageable rate and be worth the effort.

## Details

*What is a reference?* Typically it’s an internet link or a citation to a book or paper. It can be any clear way to point someone to information which is publicly available in a stable, longterm way. **Any time you refer someone to information, it should be treated the same as if you wrote it yourself, today.** Think of using a reference as copy/pasting the entire text of the reference as your discussion reply. If that would be appropriate, great. If not, don’t use it (one alternative is to refer to smaller sections of it).

*What if you’re so popular that you get too many inquiries to give even short responses like references to pre-written answers?* Then you should be popular enough to have a discussion forum when your fans respond to inquiries with references (and you or your fans can put together FAQs and other documents to make it easy to find the references you use to answer common inquiries). With that much success, you should also be able to earn the money (or get donations) to hire an assistant to answer inquiries for you (as with fan help, they can answer the easy ones and pass the interesting ones on to you).

*What about the problem of bad references?* People often try to refer someone to an entire book instead of just the relevant part. Worse, sometimes the whole book is irrelevant. To solve this, create a library of good references (you can do this publicly on a blog, or keep it as notes that you can copy/paste). The references can include specific sections (possibly from multiple sources) along with a few sentences of explanation summarizing how the references are relevant to the issue. If you receive a reference you suspect is inadequate, ask for a more specific reference and a couple sentences stating what you will find at the reference and how it matters to the issue.

*What about a succession of bad references?* People sometimes give you a bad argument, you refute it, and they give you another bad argument, and they repeat this forever. It’s the same issue whether the arguments are freshly written or via reference. Handle this by pointing out and criticizing the *pattern* of bad arguments.

*What about a succession of bad questions or criticisms?* Sometimes people keep asking about the same issue in different ways, or try to criticize the same point with different words. What should you do when people get repetitive? Speak to the *theme* involved. E.g. they keep talking about concrete examples, but you recognize they’re making the same conceptual mistake every time. Reply about the conceptual mistake instead of getting caught up in the details. A rule of thumb is to address specifics three times then cover the more general issue. Going through some specific examples helps people understand it better, but doesn’t need to be done endlessly if you can recognize some kind of repeating issue to address in a more general purpose way. In the future, you can refer to specific examples you already covered in the past and then move on to referring to an explanation of the general issue, rather than doing three more examples.

*How do I organize my references?* Have a smaller number of pieces of writing which explain general principles and address big categories of issues. Those are the hard and important parts. In addition to that, as participate in discussion you can build up *bridging material*: short explanations that say how one of the general principles answers a specific issue and then give a reference to the general explanation. The bridging material is what you usually want to refer people to so they can get an answer tailored to their question or criticism. This way, you have lots of customized answers to many different issues, but they’re cheap to make because they consist of a small amount of unique writing plus one or more references. If you create material like this each time you discuss, you’ll quickly go from just having some main ideas covered to also covering many specific inquiries in a reusable way. Before long, you’ll build up great, specific, customized answers to most inquiries so discussion won’t take much effort.


Elliot Temple
www.fallibleideas.com

Alan Forrester

unread,
Apr 4, 2018, 3:27:46 AM4/4/18
to FI, FIGG
On 4 Apr 2018, at 04:54, Elliot Temple cu...@curi.us [fallible-ideas] <fallibl...@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

> i’m happier with this draft. it’s new material except the first section is edited from the previous draft. i didn’t really clarify the audience in my mind much, but managed to write this anyway. (vaguely, the audience is a smart 20yo who likes the idea of the rational quest for truth and doesn’t know much about philosophy. ofc the same material could work fine for a 50yo who isn’t too closed minded).
>
> what’s missing that’s important to cover? i haven’t yet reread to check for completeness and compare it against my notes to see what points i could add. note i’m not trying to cover everything useful here, just enough for ppl to understand the main points. i’ll add some links to read my other PF writing at the end – someone who likes this enough to want to actually do it can read more essays np.
>
> which parts are unnecessary?
>
> what do you disagree with or find unpersuasive?
>
> note: the essay should read OK on its own, but it isn’t going to be standalone. it will be part of a website with other essays covering evolution, reason, yesno, CR, fallibilism, and a few other things like that. and i will add links to supporting material in this essay.
>
>
>
>
> # Paths Forward
>
> ## The Problem
>
> *If I’m mistaken about this idea, how will I find out?*
>
> A **path forward** is an answer to this question. It’s a way to make *progress* – a way to find out about and correct a *mistake*. You should ask this question often because without a good answer you’re at risk of being mistaken and *staying mistaken* in the long term.
>
> A second question to ask is: *What will be the negative consequences if I’m mistaken about this idea?* In other words, what’s at risk?
>
> Paths forward thinking builds on the fallibilist, evolutionary epistemology of **Critical Rationalism** and **Critical Fallibilism**. Learning works by generating ideas and correcting mistakes, so paths forward are a fundamental part of learning. We can’t prove, support or justify our ideas; the best you can say about an idea is that it hasn’t been refuted so far. And we’re fallible – we commonly make mistakes and can never get guarantees that an idea isn’t mistaken – so we should always be taking into account the possibility of mistakes having some plan so we don’t get stuck. *What are you doing about your fallibility, both generally and for individual ideas?*
>
> Create and verbalizing an approach to finding and correcting errors puts us in a better position to analyze and improve it, and to consistently use it..

There are two full stops at the end of this sentence. “Create” should be “creating”. Also, “verbalizing” is the wrong word. “Recording” would be better since it is neutral about what medium you use.

> Reasonable people already try to find and correct their mistaken ideas. Being imperfect, they inevitably miss some mistakes, and make some new mistakes when attempting corrections. And people can’t foresee what will be known in the future, so tons of ideas are actually mistakes from the perspective of the much better knowledge that we hope will exist a million years from now.

There are improvements to our knowledge that won't be made in the near future. But that is a bad standard for judging current knowledge. It is not relevant for the improvements we could make now so it provides no guidance. It also lets people off the hook for not making improvements. So it is an irrational standard.

Alan

PAS

unread,
Apr 5, 2018, 9:50:40 PM4/5/18
to FIGG, FI

> On Apr 3, 2018, at 8:54 PM, Elliot Temple <cu...@curi.us> wrote:


> # Paths Forward
>
> ## The Problem
>
> *If I’m mistaken about this idea, how will I find out?*
>
> A **path forward** is an answer to this question. It’s a way to make *progress* – a way to find out about and correct a *mistake*. You should ask this question often because without a good answer you’re at risk of being mistaken and *staying mistaken* in the long term.
>
> A second question to ask is: *What will be the negative consequences if I’m mistaken about this idea?* In other words, what’s at risk?
>
> Paths forward thinking builds on the fallibilist, evolutionary epistemology of **Critical Rationalism** and **Critical Fallibilism**. Learning works by generating ideas and correcting mistakes, so paths forward are a fundamental part of learning. We can’t prove, support or justify our ideas; the best you can say about an idea is that it hasn’t been refuted so far. And we’re fallible – we commonly make mistakes and can never get guarantees that an idea isn’t mistaken – so we should always be taking into account the possibility of mistakes having some plan so we don’t get stuck. *What are you doing about your fallibility, both generally and for individual ideas?*

I think you’re missing a word, probably “by”: "so we should always be taking into account the possibility of mistakes **by** having some plan so we don’t get stuck."

> Create and verbalizing an approach to finding and correcting errors puts us in a better position to analyze and improve it, and to consistently use it.

I think this should start with “Creating”.

> Reasonable people already try to find and correct their mistaken ideas. Being imperfect, they inevitably miss some mistakes, and make some new mistakes when attempting corrections. And people can’t foresee what will be known in the future, so tons of ideas are actually mistakes from the perspective of the much better knowledge that we hope will exist a million years from now.
>
> So: do your best to seek the truth, try to use good judgement, critically consider your own ideas, and learn about the methods of reason. This is the viewpoint of many smart people, but it’s too vague and doesn’t specify what actions to take.
>
> And there’s a big mistake most smart people are making! Consider this modified question:
>
> *If I’m mistaken about this idea, **and someone else understands the mistake and is willing to share a better idea**, how will I find out?*
>
> If you don’t think of something, that’s fine – you can’t figure everything out. And if no one thinks of something, that’s fine – we all missed it, that’s bound to happen sometimes. But what if someone does figure an issue out, and would be happy to tell you, and you stay mistaken anyway? That’s an *avoidable* failure.
>
> If people could stop missing out on great ideas *which are already known*, that’d be a huge improvement. This is hard because there are a ton of ideas in the world (too many to read through them all, let alone discuss them).
>
> **Paths Forward** explains how people miss opportunities to learn from others, and how to fix this problem. It proposes a better way to *organize* learning and knowledge, including specific actions to do. The goals are to better enable you find and correct your mistakes and to better enable other people to help you.
>
> ## The Solution
>
> As you learn, gather written material which you can refer to which expresses what you believe to your satisfaction (you will endorse it and take responsibility for its correctness as if you wrote it yourself). To the extent you either can’t find adequate material, or you create new ideas, then write it yourself.
>
> *Don’t just learn things. Get them in writing.* (In theory, it’s possible to use other mediums, like a video of a lecture, as long as it can be made publicly available on an ongoing basis so that discussions can refer to it. But writing is pretty dominant because it’s the best format. Important video and audio should be transcribed.)
>
> Less than half of this writing should be positive explanations of what you believe and why. You also need answers to potential questions and criticisms, and you need criticisms of contradictory rival positions.
>
> If you build your knowledge this way, it’s easy to answer large numbers of intellectual inquiries: refer people to the pre-existing writing which addresses their question, criticism, or rival idea. Unless someone says something new to you, you can respond to any discussion point with a reference.
>
> This enables you to have public contact info and engage with anyone who thinks you’ve made a mistake. For each of their questions, criticisms and alternative ideas, you already have writing to address it! New ideas will take more thought to address, but will come in at a manageable rate and be worth the effort.
>
> ## Details
>
> *What is a reference?* Typically it’s an internet link or a citation to a book or paper. It can be any clear way to point someone to information which is publicly available in a stable, longterm way. **Any time you refer someone to information, it should be treated the same as if you wrote it yourself, today.** Think of using a reference as copy/pasting the entire text of the reference as your discussion reply. If that would be appropriate, great. If not, don’t use it (one alternative is to refer to smaller sections of it).
>
> *What if you’re so popular that you get too many inquiries to give even short responses like references to pre-written answers?* Then you should be popular enough to have a discussion forum when your fans respond to inquiries with references (and you or your fans can put together FAQs and other documents to make it easy to find the references you use to answer common inquiries). With that much success, you should also be able to earn the money (or get donations) to hire an assistant to answer inquiries for you (as with fan help, they can answer the easy ones and pass the interesting ones on to you).
>
> *What about the problem of bad references?* People often try to refer someone to an entire book instead of just the relevant part. Worse, sometimes the whole book is irrelevant. To solve this, create a library of good references (you can do this publicly on a blog, or keep it as notes that you can copy/paste). The references can include specific sections (possibly from multiple sources) along with a few sentences of explanation summarizing how the references are relevant to the issue. If you receive a reference you suspect is inadequate, ask for a more specific reference and a couple sentences stating what you will find at the reference and how it matters to the issue.
>
> *What about a succession of bad references?* People sometimes give you a bad argument, you refute it, and they give you another bad argument, and they repeat this forever. It’s the same issue whether the arguments are freshly written or via reference. Handle this by pointing out and criticizing the *pattern* of bad arguments.
>
> *What about a succession of bad questions or criticisms?* Sometimes people keep asking about the same issue in different ways, or try to criticize the same point with different words. What should you do when people get repetitive? Speak to the *theme* involved. E.g. they keep talking about concrete examples, but you recognize they’re making the same conceptual mistake every time. Reply about the conceptual mistake instead of getting caught up in the details. A rule of thumb is to address specifics three times then cover the more general issue. Going through some specific examples helps people understand it better, but doesn’t need to be done endlessly if you can recognize some kind of repeating issue to address in a more general purpose way. In the future, you can refer to specific examples you already covered in the past and then move on to referring to an explanation of the general issue, rather than doing three more examples.
>
> *How do I organize my references?* Have a smaller number of pieces of writing which explain general principles and address big categories of issues. Those are the hard and important parts. In addition to that, as participate in discussion you can build up *bridging material*: short explanations that say how one of the general principles answers a specific issue and then give a reference to the general explanation. The bridging material is what you usually want to refer people to so they can get an answer tailored to their question or criticism. This way, you have lots of customized answers to many different issues, but they’re cheap to make because they consist of a small amount of unique writing plus one or more references. If you create material like this each time you discuss, you’ll quickly go from just having some main ideas covered to also covering many specific inquiries in a reusable way. Before long, you’ll build up great, specific, customized answers to most inquiries so discussion won’t take much effort.

---

> i’m happier with this draft. it’s new material except the first section is edited from the previous draft. i didn’t really clarify the audience in my mind much, but managed to write this anyway. (vaguely, the audience is a smart 20yo who likes the idea of the rational quest for truth and doesn’t know much about philosophy. ofc the same material could work fine for a 50yo who isn’t too closed minded).

It seems more targeted towards someone who already wants to be a public intellectual, because of the implied workload.

> what’s missing that’s important to cover? i haven’t yet reread to check for completeness and compare it against my notes to see what points i could add. note i’m not trying to cover everything useful here, just enough for ppl to understand the main points. i’ll add some links to read my other PF writing at the end – someone who likes this enough to want to actually do it can read more essays np.
>
> which parts are unnecessary?
>
> what do you disagree with or find unpersuasive?

Just learning things seems hard to most people. Getting it in writing in addition seems like a lot of additional work for someone who is not a public intellectual.

One example of how this seems like a lot of work is that it’s rare to find even sections of books you can wholeheartedly endorse, because of internal references, premises, or word use. Which means it seems like you have to:
- Cite the source
- Say what you disagree with but you think leaves significant value in the original source
Or
- Rewrite with only what you agree with

Maybe I just don’t understand the process you are actually suggesting people go through. Or maybe you think everyone should be willing to do this amount of work even if they’re not a public intellectual, just cuz they care about truth. I don’t know which it is, though I suspect the latter.

PAS

Elliot Temple

unread,
Apr 5, 2018, 10:19:06 PM4/5/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, FI
On Apr 5, 2018, at 6:50 PM, PAS <p...@paipas.com> wrote:

> Just learning things seems hard to most people. Getting it in writing in addition seems like a lot of additional work for someone who is not a public intellectual.
>
> One example of how this seems like a lot of work is that it’s rare to find even sections of books you can wholeheartedly endorse, because of internal references, premises, or word use. Which means it seems like you have to:
> - Cite the source
> - Say what you disagree with but you think leaves significant value in the original source
> Or
> - Rewrite with only what you agree with
>
> Maybe I just don’t understand the process you are actually suggesting people go through. Or maybe you think everyone should be willing to do this amount of work even if they’re not a public intellectual, just cuz they care about truth. I don’t know which it is, though I suspect the latter.

the process is the one i actually do.

i’m not terribly specific about some things preemptively, but i’m prepared to be more specific if there are inquiries.

also i commonly say what i agree with, the positive value i’m citing something for, rather than specifying the disagreements. like “Learn about X by reading Y”. if it also says Z, and i disagree with Z, so what? i endorsed it in a particular role – as giving info about X – rather than endorsing it in a generic or universal way.

i usually endorse things in either pretty narrow ways, or it’s authored by someone really good in broad ways. ppl who aren’t broadly really great are not able to make broad work up to high enough standards and should not be endorsed – if you want ideas for that stuff, find someone better or do it yourself instead of trying to accept shoddy work from a second rater.

i could clarify these points.

i don’t think the initial work load is large for most ppl b/c they don’t notice what’s wrong with stuff they read, so they won’t be writing exceptions and modifications. the work load becomes substantial if they attract attention and criticism, and they want to make claims about tons of stuff instead of admitting they don’t know. the work load is big *to know about lots of stuff*, to high standards, instead of being neutral/ignorant.

yes i think everyone should care about the truth.

Elliot Temple
www.fallibleideas.com

Elliot Temple

unread,
Apr 6, 2018, 2:00:02 PM4/6/18
to FIGG, FI
On Apr 4, 2018, at 12:27 AM, 'Alan Forrester' via Fallible Ideas <fallibl...@googlegroups.com> wrote:

> On 4 Apr 2018, at 04:54, Elliot Temple cu...@curi.us [fallible-ideas] <fallibl...@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
>
>> i’m happier with this draft. it’s new material except the first section is edited from the previous draft. i didn’t really clarify the audience in my mind much, but managed to write this anyway. (vaguely, the audience is a smart 20yo who likes the idea of the rational quest for truth and doesn’t know much about philosophy. ofc the same material could work fine for a 50yo who isn’t too closed minded).
>>
>> what’s missing that’s important to cover? i haven’t yet reread to check for completeness and compare it against my notes to see what points i could add. note i’m not trying to cover everything useful here, just enough for ppl to understand the main points. i’ll add some links to read my other PF writing at the end – someone who likes this enough to want to actually do it can read more essays np.
>>
>> which parts are unnecessary?
>>
>> what do you disagree with or find unpersuasive?
>>
>> note: the essay should read OK on its own, but it isn’t going to be standalone. it will be part of a website with other essays covering evolution, reason, yesno, CR, fallibilism, and a few other things like that. and i will add links to supporting material in this essay.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> # Paths Forward
>>
>> ## The Problem
>>
>> *If I’m mistaken about this idea, how will I find out?*
>>
>> A **path forward** is an answer to this question. It’s a way to make *progress* – a way to find out about and correct a *mistake*. You should ask this question often because without a good answer you’re at risk of being mistaken and *staying mistaken* in the long term.
>>
>> A second question to ask is: *What will be the negative consequences if I’m mistaken about this idea?* In other words, what’s at risk?
>>
>> Paths forward thinking builds on the fallibilist, evolutionary epistemology of **Critical Rationalism** and **Critical Fallibilism**. Learning works by generating ideas and correcting mistakes, so paths forward are a fundamental part of learning. We can’t prove, support or justify our ideas; the best you can say about an idea is that it hasn’t been refuted so far. And we’re fallible – we commonly make mistakes and can never get guarantees that an idea isn’t mistaken – so we should always be taking into account the possibility of mistakes having some plan so we don’t get stuck. *What are you doing about your fallibility, both generally and for individual ideas?*
>>
>> Create and verbalizing an approach to finding and correcting errors puts us in a better position to analyze and improve it, and to consistently use it..
>
> There are two full stops at the end of this sentence. “Create” should be “creating”. Also, “verbalizing” is the wrong word. “Recording” would be better since it is neutral about what medium you use.

No there weren’t two periods (full stops). I just checked and found it’s fine in my original post and in PAS’s reply quoting that section. You seem to have misquoted me by adding the extra period. it also has a single period on the yahoo website: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/fallible-ideas/conversations/messages/26182


>> Reasonable people already try to find and correct their mistaken ideas. Being imperfect, they inevitably miss some mistakes, and make some new mistakes when attempting corrections. And people can’t foresee what will be known in the future, so tons of ideas are actually mistakes from the perspective of the much better knowledge that we hope will exist a million years from now.
>
> There are improvements to our knowledge that won't be made in the near future. But that is a bad standard for judging current knowledge. It is not relevant for the improvements we could make now so it provides no guidance. It also lets people off the hook for not making improvements. So it is an irrational standard.

i think you misunderstood the intended purpose of that passage and then got aggressive. even if it was mistaken in the ways you believed, you still shouldn’t have been aggressive about it like this.

Elliot Temple
www.fallibleideas.com

Nunya bizness

unread,
Apr 6, 2018, 2:54:51 PM4/6/18
to 'anonymous FI' anonymousfallibleideas@gmail.com [fallible-ideas], FIGG
On Apr 3, 2018, at 10:54 PM, Elliot Temple cu...@curi.us [fallible-ideas] <fallibl...@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

> Create and verbalizing an approach to finding and correcting errors puts us in a better position to analyze and improve it, and to consistently use it..

elliot pointed out that i misquoted somebody by adding a period at the end of a sentence.

then i noticed that he pointed out that Alan did the same thing.

so i wanted to check to see if i could reproduce the error.

so i checked the email from elliot (part of it is quoted above). there’s an extra period at the end of the sentence. see “use it..” above. and i mean i see it in the original email as viewed in the Mail program on my MacBook air, not just in my reply here. so the error is happening before i press reply.

i checked the link here (https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/fallible-ideas/conversations/messages/26182) and i don’t see the extra period.

— GISTE

Alan Forrester

unread,
Apr 6, 2018, 6:18:09 PM4/6/18
to FI, FIGG
On 6 Apr 2018, at 18:59, Elliot Temple cu...@curi.us [fallible-ideas] <fallibl...@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

> On Apr 4, 2018, at 12:27 AM, 'Alan Forrester' via Fallible Ideas <fallibl...@googlegroups.com> wrote:
>
>> On 4 Apr 2018, at 04:54, Elliot Temple cu...@curi.us [fallible-ideas] <fallibl...@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
>>
>>> i’m happier with this draft. it’s new material except the first section is edited from the previous draft. i didn’t really clarify the audience in my mind much, but managed to write this anyway. (vaguely, the audience is a smart 20yo who likes the idea of the rational quest for truth and doesn’t know much about philosophy. ofc the same material could work fine for a 50yo who isn’t too closed minded).
>>>
>>> what’s missing that’s important to cover? i haven’t yet reread to check for completeness and compare it against my notes to see what points i could add. note i’m not trying to cover everything useful here, just enough for ppl to understand the main points. i’ll add some links to read my other PF writing at the end – someone who likes this enough to want to actually do it can read more essays np.
>>>
>>> which parts are unnecessary?
>>>
>>> what do you disagree with or find unpersuasive?
>>>
>>> note: the essay should read OK on its own, but it isn’t going to be standalone. it will be part of a website with other essays covering evolution, reason, yesno, CR, fallibilism, and a few other things like that. and i will add links to supporting material in this essay.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> # Paths Forward
>>>
>>> ## The Problem
>>>
>>> *If I’m mistaken about this idea, how will I find out?*
>>>
>>> A **path forward** is an answer to this question. It’s a way to make *progress* – a way to find out about and correct a *mistake*. You should ask this question often because without a good answer you’re at risk of being mistaken and *staying mistaken* in the long term.
>>>
>>> A second question to ask is: *What will be the negative consequences if I’m mistaken about this idea?* In other words, what’s at risk?
>>>
>>> Paths forward thinking builds on the fallibilist, evolutionary epistemology of **Critical Rationalism** and **Critical Fallibilism**. Learning works by generating ideas and correcting mistakes, so paths forward are a fundamental part of learning. We can’t prove, support or justify our ideas; the best you can say about an idea is that it hasn’t been refuted so far. And we’re fallible – we commonly make mistakes and can never get guarantees that an idea isn’t mistaken – so we should always be taking into account the possibility of mistakes having some plan so we don’t get stuck. *What are you doing about your fallibility, both generally and for individual ideas?*
>>>
>>> Create and verbalizing an approach to finding and correcting errors puts us in a better position to analyze and improve it, and to consistently use it..
>>
>> There are two full stops at the end of this sentence. “Create” should be “creating”. Also, “verbalizing” is the wrong word. “Recording” would be better since it is neutral about what medium you use.
>
> No there weren’t two periods (full stops). I just checked and found it’s fine in my original post and in PAS’s reply quoting that section. You seem to have misquoted me by adding the extra period. it also has a single period on the yahoo website: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/fallible-ideas/conversations/messages/26182

You’re right about the full stop.

>>> Reasonable people already try to find and correct their mistaken ideas. Being imperfect, they inevitably miss some mistakes, and make some new mistakes when attempting corrections. And people can’t foresee what will be known in the future, so tons of ideas are actually mistakes from the perspective of the much better knowledge that we hope will exist a million years from now.
>>
>> There are improvements to our knowledge that won't be made in the near future. But that is a bad standard for judging current knowledge. It is not relevant for the improvements we could make now so it provides no guidance. It also lets people off the hook for not making improvements. So it is an irrational standard.
>
> i think you misunderstood the intended purpose of that passage and then got aggressive. even if it was mistaken in the ways you believed, you still shouldn’t have been aggressive about it like this.

I wasn’t saying your passage was mistaken. I was adding points that weren’t in that particular paragraph about why the standard you were criticising is a mistake.

Alan

Elliot Temple

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Apr 6, 2018, 7:01:55 PM4/6/18
to FIGG, FI
ok, i thought it was saying i had an irrational standard in the essay, but i can see a second reading of it. i don't think it's very clear either way. i think the confused content contributes to the difficulty of reading it. in that case, i still think it's unnecessarily aggressive against the ppl it's attacking. i still think it has an aggressive tone in a bad way.

let's analyze. first of all, i already edited that passage to try to clarify it since i thought alan misunderstood it. here's what it currently says:

> Reasonable people already try to find and correct their mistaken ideas. Being imperfect, they inevitably miss some mistakes, and make some new mistakes when attempting corrections. Try to imagine how many mistakes people from a million years in the future would see us making.


maybe that helps.

i thought when alan said:

>>> There are improvements to our knowledge that won't be made in the near future. But that is a bad standard for judging current knowledge.


the first sentence was restating something in the essay (about we'll know more in a million years, but we don't know that yet) and then the second sentence was saying that was a bad standard to use for judging ideas (i agree, i thought alan misunderstood me as proposing that standard).

one reason this is confusing is i didn't think other ppl were using that standard either. i wasn't saying *anyone* was using "will we know better in a million years?" (or, "will we improve this in the near future? no? it's great then!") as their standard for judging ideas.

and when alan said:

>>> So it is an irrational standard.

i thought that referred to the same "bad standard" mentioned earlier. i think whoever was being criticized in the first 2 sentences was also the one being called irrational later. (i still think this – that it's the same standard as mentioned earlier.)

>>> It is not relevant for the improvements we could make now so it provides no guidance.

this is true.

>>> It also lets people off the hook for not making improvements.


this is kinda aggressive phrasing. and then:

>>> So it is an irrational standard.

this is kinda aggressive too.

it's not *super* aggressive or anything. but i still think it qualifies as aggressive. and i (still) think it lacks clarity and misunderstood what i was saying, and people should be extra careful with strong negative statements when they aren't really clear on what's being said and aren't communicating very clearly.

how is it aggressive? it goes from the issues to who is being let off the hook. that made it more about people instead of epistemology. that was the second to last sentence. then in the last sentence, the comment about irrationality also reads to me as people-oriented, due to what it's following. and i don't see some clear connection between the irrationality accusation and error correction or lack thereof.

some of the meaning is: stop letting people off the hook for being bad, it's irrational to go so easy on them. so that meaning adds some harshness. and i thought it was jumping there without enough cause which i read as an aggressive attitude by alan (though misunderstandings are part of the issue, plus lack of recognition of the misunderstandings, which i think is still going on – i guess alan didn't figure out what happened when writing his followup and still misunderstandings what i meant and then how his reply could followup on it).

another sign of being harsh was the statement "provides no guidance". i don't agree with that. i don't think it provides literally zero guidance, i think it provides only a little bit of guidance. i think i agree with the gist of what alan is saying there (that trying to judge current knowledge by future knowledge isn't much use for figuring things out), but i think he exaggerated it by saying "no guidance". *none* is a really strong statement.

i also generally found alan's paragraph underexplained. like where he says:

>>> There are improvements to our knowledge that won't be made in the near future. But that is a bad standard for judging current knowledge.

i think the first sentence is clear enough on its own, though it doesn't say how it relates to my essay or how alan is reading my essay.

but then what about the second sentence? it says "that is a bad standard". but what is "that" standard? the first sentence does not clearly state a standard. it doesn't state a way of judging current knowledge. "judge by whether there are improvements that won't be made in the near future" is not a very clear method. i could try to take it pretty literally – try to predict the future growth of knowledge and know how many improvements will be made in the future and how important they will be – but that still isn't enough. is more better or worse? is it good if the knowledge is improvable (high potential) or bad (large distance from perfection)? i could see the judgement going either way, so it's really unclear!

then:

>>> It is not relevant for the improvements we could make now so it provides no guidance.

this is hard to read. what is "it"? it's unclear b/c i don't know what the method of judging is. this means something about potential future improvements not being relevant to accessible improvements now and in the near future. but it's hard to tell what precisely the thing being claimed to be irrelevant actually is.

>>> It also lets people off the hook for not making improvements. So it is an irrational standard.

so when we get here, what "it" is remains underexplained and we're moving on to it somehow sanctioning non-progress and the *people* involved.


my essay text was intended to be about:

we can divide error detection into 3 categories:

- errors you successfully detect yourself
- errors someone much much better than us would detect, like people after a million years of progress
- errors other people can detect today

and my point is about how ppl already somewhat do what they can with the first 2 categories (not at all perfectly, but it's hard to tell them a low hanging fruit to do way better). they already try to find some of their mistakes (with some success), and they already try to foresee the future (with little success, but that's quite hard). but ppl are fucking up about the third category. they are failing to learn from errors that other ppl detect due to shutting down discussion, blocking paths forward, making themselves unable to be told about problems that other ppl figure out and would be willing to help with.

none of this was supposed to be about a standard for judging which ideas are true, good, practical, useful today, or whatever. so i think alan misunderstood. and i don't know how to read that misunderstand from my text.

in my new version i tried to simplify by dropping the future knowledge category and instead mentioning the future to help provide perspective on how there are errors ppl miss with their self-evaluation, and also especially how lots of corrections are actually errors. you can hopefully imagine how when you find a mistake, and try to fix it, usually the fix is still a mistake from the perspective of someone far in advance of you.

none of this was supposed to provide guidance for judging ideas, as alan interpreted. it wasn't meant as a way of judging ideas (neither my own way nor other ppl's way). in alan's followup he indicates he thought i was criticizing a standard and he was adding more criticism in line with what i was saying. but i think alan was criticizing a misreading and i wasn't saying that. i was trying to say more like: there are some good things people already do for correcting errors, but there is a big thing they could do to be way more effective. and the big low hanging fruit relates to how to learn from external ideas, not how to catch your own errors.



---

i hope this helps clarify things and is appreciated.

i think silence from alan would be a bad, ambiguous continuation. in that scenario i'll have to be suspicious about how much alan values this analysis (maybe not much, and maybe he even disliked it).

i hope alan is interested in being nicer. (as i've mentioned, i'd be happy to get criticism and analysis of my own writing.) i've noticed some issues with that in the past which i've pointed out and which IIRC alan hasn't really wanted to discuss much.

i am in favor of ppl having a thick skin and being really tolerant when reading stuff. i don't think readers should get all mad about what alan said or anything like that. i think they should find it plenty mild to be able to engage with it calmly. i think the content is unclear though and that's a sticking point for engagement.

so i'm not interested in making the wording a bit more friendly for the sake of it being a bit more acceptable to thin-skinned, easily-triggered ppl. the reason i cared to analyze the wording is i'm guessing there is some bit of hostiltiy/aggression/unkindness/negative-emotion/etc in alan's mindset which led to writing the wording. something along those lines. that is what i think matters. in general i think hostile wordings matter don't really matter much in and of themselves, it's the hostile mindset behind them which matters and which they are evidence about. so my hope is this analysis can help alan with some self-reflection and self-awareness to solve an underlying problem, rather than primarily helping with friendlier wording. i think it's a subtle problem compared to what's typical with this kinda thing, but my current guess is it does exist.


Elliot Temple
www.elliottemple.com

Nunya bizness

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Apr 6, 2018, 7:04:50 PM4/6/18
to FIGG, FI
so, does elliot’s comment about aggression (quote level 2 above) still apply to Alan's text (quote level 3 above)?

but instead of being aggressive towards elliot, it’s aggressive towards the people who hold the ideas that Alan’s paragraph criticizes. is that right?

also, why is alan’s paragraph aggressive? and how can alan’s text be edited so that it retains the same explanation but without aggression?

is this post overreaching? normally yes or no questions aren’t good. but i think this case is good. if u want my reasons, just ask.

— GISTE

Elliot Temple

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Apr 6, 2018, 7:10:15 PM4/6/18
to FIGG, FI
GISTE asked in this thread:

> also, why is alan’s paragraph aggressive? and how can alan’s text be edited so that it retains the same explanation but without aggression?

i think it's bad to edit the text to hide the aggression. the important thing is to remove the aggression from the writer's mind. (this is a general thing, regardless of whether aggression was in alan's mind in this case).

GISTE doesn't understand aggression, but seems to want methods for editing text so people don't see aggression. this makes the mental problem harder to solve and harder to detect. it hides discussion problems.

this kind of thing is common. i've seen others doing problem-hiding stuff, including about wording.

i think it's an ongoing issue where various ppl learn over time not to say certain things cuz if they do i will criticize. but they still have the bad ideas and don't understand the issue, and have some bad emotions or mindset too in cases where that's relevant. (this also happens with abstract intellectual issues like someone might learn to edit their text and delete the word "probably" to avoid criticism from me, even though they don't understand the issue.)

you should normally write so your writing reflects your actual ideas and mindset.

Elliot Temple
www.curi.us

Nunya bizness

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Apr 6, 2018, 7:22:17 PM4/6/18
to FIGG, FI
On Apr 6, 2018, at 6:10 PM, Elliot Temple <cu...@curi.us> wrote:

> GISTE asked in this thread:
>
>> also, why is alan’s paragraph aggressive? and how can alan’s text be edited so that it retains the same explanation but without aggression?
>
> i think it's bad to edit the text to hide the aggression. the important thing is to remove the aggression from the writer's mind. (this is a general thing, regardless of whether aggression was in alan's mind in this case).
>
> GISTE doesn't understand aggression, but seems to want methods for editing text so people don't see aggression. this makes the mental problem harder to solve and harder to detect. it hides discussion problems.
>
> this kind of thing is common. i've seen others doing problem-hiding stuff, including about wording.
>
> i think it's an ongoing issue where various ppl learn over time not to say certain things cuz if they do i will criticize. but they still have the bad ideas and don't understand the issue, and have some bad emotions or mindset too in cases where that's relevant. (this also happens with abstract intellectual issues like someone might learn to edit their text and delete the word "probably" to avoid criticism from me, even though they don't understand the issue.)
>
> you should normally write so your writing reflects your actual ideas and mindset.

what i had in mind for my question (that you quoted above) was this. i wanted to take the non-aggressive explanation and the aggressive one, and compare and contrast to help me see what was aggressive about the first one.

— GISTE

Nunya bizness

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Apr 6, 2018, 8:44:48 PM4/6/18
to FIGG, FI
On Apr 6, 2018, at 6:18 PM, 'Nunya bizness' via Fallible Ideas <fallibl...@googlegroups.com> wrote:

> On Apr 6, 2018, at 6:10 PM, Elliot Temple <cu...@curi.us> wrote:
>
>> GISTE asked in this thread:
>>
>>> also, why is alan’s paragraph aggressive? and how can alan’s text be edited so that it retains the same explanation but without aggression?
>>
>> i think it's bad to edit the text to hide the aggression. the important thing is to remove the aggression from the writer's mind. (this is a general thing, regardless of whether aggression was in alan's mind in this case).

so the idea being described here is this:

if you notice aggression in your writing, you should be focused on removing aggression from your *mind*, rather than focussed on editing your writing to remove the appearance of aggression.

so, a better line of questioning for my previous post is this:

*also, why is alan’s paragraph aggressive? and how can someone rid his mind of that aggression so that he doesn’t write aggressive comments?*

>> GISTE doesn't understand aggression, but seems to want methods for editing text so people don't see aggression. this makes the mental problem harder to solve and harder to detect. it hides discussion problems.
>>
>> this kind of thing is common. i've seen others doing problem-hiding stuff, including about wording.
>>
>> i think it's an ongoing issue where various ppl learn over time not to say certain things cuz if they do i will criticize. but they still have the bad ideas and don't understand the issue, and have some bad emotions or mindset too in cases where that's relevant. (this also happens with abstract intellectual issues like someone might learn to edit their text and delete the word "probably" to avoid criticism from me, even though they don't understand the issue.)

so, imagine this discussion wasn’t about aggressive comments and instead it was about comments that use the word “probably” incorrectly. and imagine i asked this line of questioning. *how did I use the word “probably” wrong in my text? and how can my text be edited so that it retains the same explanation but doesn’t use the word “probably”?

does this line of questioning have the same problem-hiding quality elliot explained above?

a better line of questioning (along the lines of what i did above) is this:

*how did i use the word “probably” wrong in my text? and how can i rid my mind of the tendency to produce thoughts that use the word “probably” wrong?*

that seems to have the a similar issue of focussing on outward appearance of one’s thoughts. i’ll change it again:

*how did i use the word “probably” wrong in my text? and how can i change my ideas/mind so that i correctly understand the issues regarding truth and probability such that i no longer make comments that use the word “probably” incorrectly?*

>> you should normally write so your writing reflects your actual ideas and mindset.
>
> what i had in mind for my question (that you quoted above) was this. i wanted to take the non-aggressive explanation and the aggressive one, and compare and contrast to help me see what was aggressive about the first one.

this reply i made (quoted immediately above) seems to miss elliot’s point. what i was trying to do was to clarify what i was thinking in order to expose it to crit. but my post was not focussed on learning what elliot was saying. i think this post is better on that point.


i don’t know if attempting this post was too ambitious for me. i don’t have an explicit policy for judging that. so i bet my intuitions about this are biased.

— GISTE

Anne B

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Apr 9, 2018, 2:19:39 PM4/9/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, fallibl...@yahoogroups.com
On Fri, Apr 6, 2018 at 2:50 PM, Nunya bizness
cuz_good_is_str...@yahoo.com [fallible-ideas]
I also see that extra period in the email of the post I got from
yahoo. I do not see it when I view the post on the yahoo website.

Anne B

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Apr 9, 2018, 3:07:56 PM4/9/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, fallibl...@yahoogroups.com
I just noticed another example of this issue.

This post looks fine on the yahoo website:
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/fallible-ideas/conversations/messages/26185

But in the email that came through to me, the third paragraph has an
extra period:

> there is another step, after finding a baseline, before moving ahead at all.. it should be said really explicitly.

anonymous FI

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Apr 16, 2018, 6:23:39 PM4/16/18
to FIGG, FI
Alan has been silent despite the preemptive comments.

> i hope alan is interested in being nicer. (as i've mentioned, i'd be
> happy to get criticism and analysis of my own writing.) i've noticed
> some issues with that in the past which i've pointed out and which
> IIRC alan hasn't really wanted to discuss much.
>
> i am in favor of ppl having a thick skin and being really tolerant
> when reading stuff. i don't think readers should get all mad about
> what alan said or anything like that. i think they should find it
> plenty mild to be able to engage with it calmly. i think the content
> is unclear though and that's a sticking point for engagement.
>
> so i'm not interested in making the wording a bit more friendly for
> the sake of it being a bit more acceptable to thin-skinned,
> easily-triggered ppl. the reason i cared to analyze the wording is i'm
> guessing there is some bit of
> hostiltiy/aggression/unkindness/negative-emotion/etc in alan's mindset
> which led to writing the wording. something along those lines. that is
> what i think matters. in general i think hostile wordings matter don't
> really matter much in and of themselves, it's the hostile mindset
> behind them which matters and which they are evidence about. so my
> hope is this analysis can help alan with some self-reflection and
> self-awareness to solve an underlying problem, rather than primarily
> helping with friendlier wording. i think it's a subtle problem
> compared to what's typical with this kinda thing, but my current guess
> is it does exist.

Looks like Alan doesn't want to talk about this or value the reply. Alan
has some problem related to his low FI participation but he apparently
doesn't want to discuss it.

Alan Forrester

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Apr 17, 2018, 2:08:51 AM4/17/18
to FI, FIGG
On 7 Apr 2018, at 00:01, Elliot Temple cu...@curi.us [fallible-ideas] <fallibl...@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

> On Apr 6, 2018, at 3:18 PM, 'Alan Forrester' via Fallible Ideas <fallibl...@googlegroups.com> wrote:
>
>> On 6 Apr 2018, at 18:59, Elliot Temple cu...@curi.us [fallible-ideas] <fallibl...@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
>>
>>> On Apr 4, 2018, at 12:27 AM, 'Alan Forrester' via Fallible Ideas <fallibl...@googlegroups.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>> On 4 Apr 2018, at 04:54, Elliot Temple cu...@curi.us [fallible-ideas] <fallibl...@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
>
>
>>>>> Reasonable people already try to find and correct their mistaken ideas.. Being imperfect, they inevitably miss some mistakes, and make some new mistakes when attempting corrections. And people can’t foresee what will be known in the future, so tons of ideas are actually mistakes from the perspective of the much better knowledge that we hope will exist a million years from now.
>>>>
>>>> There are improvements to our knowledge that won't be made in the near future. But that is a bad standard for judging current knowledge. It is not relevant for the improvements we could make now so it provides no guidance.. It also lets people off the hook for not making improvements. So it is an irrational standard.
I have some hostility in my mindset.

It sometimes comes up when I think a person should know something but he doesn’t.

Sometimes a person who is not on FI is being hostile to me and I don’t know what to do about it. I respond to that by feeling angry and that may come across in my posts.

Alan

Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum

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Apr 28, 2018, 1:09:18 AM4/28/18
to fallibl...@googlegroups.com, FI
On Tue, Apr 3, 2018 at 11:54 PM, Elliot Temple <cu...@curi.us> wrote:

> *If I’m mistaken about this idea, how will I find out?*
>
> A **path forward** is an answer to this question.

Clear definition. New to me.

> Consider this modified question:
>
> *If I’m mistaken about this idea, **and someone else understands the mistake and is willing to share a better idea**, how will I find out?*

Previously, I thought a path forward was an answer to the modified question.

> Less than half of this writing should be positive explanations of what you believe and why. You also need answers to potential questions and criticisms, and you need criticisms of contradictory rival positions.

This was new to me. Currently more than half of my writing is positive explanations of what I believe and why.

> **Any time you refer someone to information, it should be treated the same as if you wrote it yourself, today.**

Clear way of saying this idea.

> Think of using a reference as copy/pasting the entire text of the reference as your discussion reply. If that would be appropriate, great. If not, don’t use it (one alternative is to refer to smaller sections of it).

Clear. Referring someone to an entire book isn't appropriate unless most of the book is relevant.

> *What about a succession of bad questions or criticisms?* Sometimes people keep asking about the same issue in different ways, or try to criticize the same point with different words. What should you do when people get repetitive? Speak to the *theme* involved. E.g. they keep talking about concrete examples, but you recognize they’re making the same conceptual mistake every time. Reply about the conceptual mistake instead of getting caught up in the details. A rule of thumb is to address specifics three times then cover the more general issue. Going through some specific examples helps people understand it better, but doesn’t need to be done endlessly if you can recognize some kind of repeating issue to address in a more general purpose way. In the future, you can refer to specific examples you already covered in the past and then move on to referring to an explanation of the general issue, rather than doing three more examples.

Helpful tip about addressing specific issues three times before covering the more general issue. You can then refer back to the specific issues to help make your point about the general issue.
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