Disagreeing with Experts for Fun and No Profit

blog phil todo

published 2023-08-29 22:35

updated 2023-11-13 17:23

Welcome back to story-telling our way to the future Having Opinions on the Internet. I'm your host, Random Internet Stranger, and you're here to... read my opinions? ...Really? How delightful. Let's get to them then.

Before we dive in, there's always only one real rule to having opinions on the internet, and that is you actually have to believe what you're saying. Oh wait, I'm getting word now that this is not a requirement. Okay, well, I'm going to do the sports-like thing, and honour that rule: I do believe everything I'm writing about. I guess somehow I tricked myself into writing click bait? Best not think about it too long.

As always, I'd love to chat about any of these!


  • People are more malleable than science can currently model
  • Physics does not, and in fact is entirely incapable of, explaining everything around us
  • Human Experts have a poor understanding of what intelligence is, and by proxy, how to measure it
  • Economic indicators are a poor proxy for Eudomonia, and even more importantly, Economic models are unable to measure anything meaningful since before there was Economics

Human Nature is Adaptive

"Human Nature" is often invoked as an argument in favour of whatever the invoker appears to support. Greedy, Lazy, Selfish. But nailing down the nebulous notion of Human Nature to some particular behaviour seems myopic. If history has shown me anything, it's that humans are adaptive. We have incredible ability to adjust ourselves and our surroundings to ensure we can exist. Change is what we do, as humans. Of course Science is aware of this, but we don't conduct science on time scales for human adaption. There is no hypothesis that is tested for 100 years, against a sea of new data, and especially no western academic sociological data dating back anywhere near that far. Science, especially as Rationalists hold on to it, is a tool not quite yet ready to study humans on the scale at which they change. Generations are what adapt. How do we keep up research for a study across changing generations? Those running the experiments invariably are the same people we are looking at as data. If we are good at adapting, how do we design environments that help individuals adapt? Towards what Goal should our environments guide us?

Materialism is the Dominant World view of Today

I don't know if it's just a culture of this time thing, or maybe it's the "I'm looking out for it, so I see it everywhere" phenomenon. Either way, I keep coming up against Materialism in conversations with people (which I do enjoy!) and it seems not unreasonable to say it's the dominant world view of at least the people I interact with. I know at least a few Physics and Math PhD candidates who believe that the Universe is Deterministic. That it is possible to acquire all the data points, and with it all the rules of the universe, and play out Reality. Simulation theory is built on this idea, and I'm sure so many others. There's two angles I find this world view difficult to believe. One, which you may have picked up on, is gathering all the data points. That there is a finite and total amount of information in any single "slice" of space-time seems like a reasonable conclusion to come to. But I'm not aware of any Science that confirms this perspective. If anything, as far as I understand, Science tells us the opposite is true. Space Time is only ever experienced subjectively, from a specific perspective. The notion that it is possible to take some global sum across all perspectives which makes up the universe and get finite amount of data from which you can simulate reality again is really still a philosophical issue.