17 Mar 2008
Gnome Killer

Eliezer Yudkowsky, in post Explaining vs. Explaining Away at Overcoming Bias, deconstructs a brief passage of Keat’s Lamia to point out that distinction. He concludes with

Bad scientist! No poems for you, gnomekiller!

Well, that’s how it feels, if you get emotionally attached to the gnomes, and then a scientist says there aren’t any gnomes. It takes a strong mind, a deep honesty, and a deliberate effort to say, at this point, “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be,” and “The scientist hasn’t taken the gnomes away, only taken my delusion away,” and “I never held just title to my belief in gnomes in the first place; I have not been deprived of anything I rightfully owned,” and “If there are gnomes, I desire to believe there are gnomes; if there are no gnomes, I desire to believe there are no gnomes; let me not become attached to beliefs I may not want,” and all the other things that rationalists are supposed to say on such occasions.

But with the rainbow it is not even necessary to go that far. The rainbow is still there!

All this just to say it reminded me of something I scribbled back in 1977: By Way Of Reflection.

Category: philosophy
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