Silas, you've made my entire weekend. You have no idea what a pleasure it is for me to be defended rationally; the only thing better is to be attacked rationally, but that wouldn't have been possible here.

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Please note that you can't close tags except by editing the original comment

The precise statement is that it depends on the web browser. It does improve the display from Safari. I think that there was a change between Firefox 2 & 3, so people have habits from 2 that are no longer useful.

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Silas I'm afraid only evidence will provide Robin right. You still have not shared any.

It appears no one has any. I am not intending this to be a flamewar, but only challenging unsubstantiated assertions. Sorry if that is not appropriate for a blog called Overcoming Bias.

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Um, does Marcus Hutter's AIXI definition of intelligence float? http://www.hutter1.net/ai/i...

It violates some of Eliezer Yudkowsky's requirements, but I think it offers hope that a suitable formalization could be found that satisfies those requirements.

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entropy , for instance, does not help us think about the evolution of economies and ecologies

As well as Tim Tyler, there is the widespread idea of trophic levels in ecology. This reasoning behind this is implicitly predicated on thermodynamics.

My bad; I was trying to make a simple point that "entropy always goes up in a closed system" is not relevant to a non-closed system. My point overshot simplicity, and entered stupidity, and was wrong.

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Sorry, I'm going to fall for it, because retired_urologist keeps proving Robin_Hanson right. First of all, when doctors fail to get the Bayesian inference problem right, the problem is *not* that they are bad "mathematicians" or that they weren't taught how to do *that specific problem*. The problem is that they didn't recognize the applicability of certain abstract principles, to that particualr problem. Which is -- as Caledonian argued -- a failure to think abstractly. A failure, like in Eliezer_Yudkowsky's parable, to be able to say, "Hey, that counting-stones thing -- it works for sheep too!"

(In fact, it would be weaker evidence of abstract thought if you gave doctors that problem after specifically showing them how to format such problems.)

So when retired_urologist looks at that evidence, and all he sees is "doctors being tested on something they weren't taught", that is in fact (and quite self-referentially) another case inability to abstract.

Robin_Hanson may have been rude to call him out like that, but I must confess he and Caledonian are correct :-/

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Um, Caledonian is pretty obviously trying to keep the flamewar going after Retired shut it down. Don't fall for it, please.

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I'm afraid you still haven't provided any evidence for a lack of ability for abstract reasoning. You have an argument that is mildly persuasive, but please refer to the specific study you are basing this on. It would help if the study defines and uses the term "abstract reasoning". A study limited only to capability of calculating probabilities would be left wanting unless you've also got a study showing a strong correlation between that capability and other useful measures of intelligence or abstract reasoning ability.

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Hanson said urologist's behavior illustrated his point.

Do you know what "illustrating a point" means, Cyan? Because that phrase has a generally-accepted meaning in English. A meaning that reduces your complaint to a non sequitur.

You still owe Hanson an apology. Now you owe me one as well.

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Caledonian, Robin Hanson's position could be correct in every particular and retired urologist's position could be utterly false, and still Robin's reply is glib and unfair. Anyone who supports a statement about the statistical properties of a group by talking about the individual members of that group is guilty of fallacious argument.

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Yet there is a difference between being "trained not to think" and "not being trained to think". The former does not occur in any medical school I know about, while the latter is widespread. Ha!

Medical students are forced to memorized and regurgitate tremendous amounts of information. Then they are put in a situation in which they are 1) responsible for identifying, correctly diagnosing, and properly treating symptoms, 2) obligated to see a great many patients, and 3) legally responsible for any negative consequences resulting from diaagnosis and treatment that does not match standard practice (as well as being legally vulnerable for offering nonstandard practice regardless of the outcome) while at the same time being unassailable for negative consequences that result from generally-accepted practice.

Doctors thus have nothing to gain from questioning and challenging the status quo. People who value and enjoy such generally do not become physicians -- and when they do, they tend to go into research rather than treatment.

Most doctors are highly-trained technicians. They are not experimenters, investigators, or even rationalists. They are, in actuality, extremely irrational. And a great deal of their function consists of authoritative pronouncement, convincing people that they know what is wrong and how to fix it. Actually knowing what if anything is wrong and how to fix it isn't required.

Which is why it took so long for medicine to become scientific, why so much of it still isn't scientific, and for a long time you'd be better off with no treatment at all than going to a doctor. Even now, it's not clear that they do more good than harm across all interventions.

Withdrawing your counterattack is not sufficient. Expose your belly and say 'uncle'.

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Caledonian: perhaps the joke's on me. I failed to understand what Hanson meant by "abstract reasoning". Your explanation makes it much clearer, referring to such studies as Yudkowsky quotes in his "Intuitive Explanation of Bayesian Reasoning". Certainly, I have no argument with the concept that medical doctors are not (usually) the sharpest mathematicians. Yet there is a difference between being "trained not to think" and "not being trained to think". The former does not occur in any medical school I know about, while the latter is widespread. And there are many types of abstract reasoning other than probabilities. Perhaps use of the term "abstract reasoning" in Hanson's illustration is an example of a concept whose meaning is prohibitively hard to infer from usage that offends him so.

I withdraw my defensive posture.

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Anyone who objects to a statement about the statistical properties of a group by talking about the individual members of that group is guilty of fallacious argument.

Robin Hanson's comment is neither glib nor unfair. It is in fact extraordinarily generous, given how profoundly foolish retired urologist is being. Cyan and those who agreed with him, you owe Hanson an apology. retired urologist, you owe all of us an apology.

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And, yet, that doesn't really matter because virtually all cognitive skills are positively correlated. Mr. Sailer, that is the most incorrect thing I have ever seen you write.

How did you come to this "unbiased" conclusion about them? retired urologist, you're reacting defensively to a perceived slight. No informed person would dispute the original claim. Doctors are in fact extraordinarily bad at performing abstract operations when the subject matter is medicine. The studies showing that doctors do not know how to correctly evaluate the probability of illness given a positive test result demonstrates that beyond any reasonable doubt.

Part of the problem is that doctors are trained not to think about what they're doing and why they're doing it. You cannot try to do so and make it through medical school; sipping from the firehose isn't an option.

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Is this the same Robin who patiently explains to us that "anecdotal evidence" is an oxymoron?

Please retract your comment about the abstract reasoning abilities of medical doctors or provide some evidence for it.

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Closed Roga's tag and, as long as I was there, deleted Roga's flame. I wouldn't ordinarily do that on one of Robin's posts but it seemed like a really ominous sign.

Please note that you can't close tags except by editing the original comment. Typepad will let you do a dangling open tag in a single comment, but not a dangling close tag, apparently.

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