(urth) 5HC : Skinner, Turing and yet more Laplace

Iorwerth Thomas iorweththomas at hotmail.com
Fri Feb 18 08:59:28 PST 2005

>From: maru <marudubshinki at gmail.com>

>I'd think there would be some plans that would be correct irregardless of 
>who knew it.
>What about someone (hypothetically speaking) who didn't mind being 
>predicted, and the
>prediction (which we will assume is optimum for him) is optimum from vis 
>POV as well.  They have no
>incentive to outdate it by doing something else, in fact, might even work 
>harder to make sure they do
>what they woulda done anyway.  Put that way and it sounds silly, but so 
>much does.

Hmm.  If my choice is  between eating a cheese sandwich or being eaten by a 
crocodile, the chances are that I'll choose the former, however, in order to 
confirm that for sure after having seen a prediction ( as my mind could now 
change at the last minute since my brain state has been peturbed [1]), you'd 
have to make a new prediction.  Which you can't show me.  I'm starting to 
think that we're moving in ever decreasing circles here...   One of those 
wonderful philosophical impasse things...

[1]  It doesn't have to be a _likely_ possibility that, in a moment of 
pretentious angst, I suddenly decide on the existentially fulfilling choice 
of suicide via crocodile over the hunger-satisfying cheese sandwich mandated 
by the conformist herd and leap headlong into the animal's jaws - just a 
_logical_ one.

>And psychology experiments are an intersting field of ethics: if people 
>know they are being tested
>on how compassionate they are, or how gullible, or how sheep-like, that 
>would throw off results.
>Often experiments are fraught with ethical peril, like ones about 
>persauding people against their will,
>or maybe the infamous Stanford prisoner experiments.

I think I recall an example of this.  Either the BBC or Channel 4 (I forget 
which) here in the UK attempted to recreate the Stanford experiment.  In 
scientific terms it was pretty worthless due to i) the ah, ethical 
limitations they had to impose on what could be done (just as well given 
what happened in the original; ii) the selection criteria for participants 
were less strict; iii) the de-facto head of the guards had read of the 
original experiment and expressed a sincere desire not to be caught 
torturing people on tv.

As it was, this time round the prisoners won out, and adopted steriotyped 
revolutionary behaviour as a result of their dominance (as opposed to the 
previous experiment, where the guards adopted
steriotyped totalitarian behaviour as a result of their dominance).  But 
it's a bad experiment, because of points i) to iii).

>Infinite monkeys would type out this conversation, as well as the 
>unanswerable rebuttals to both >our arguments.


>Incidentally, this whole tangent about predictions reminds me ineluctably 
>of the 'Dune' series.
>I never did figure oput what frank Herbert was saying about predestination 
>and free will in those works.

You don't have free will unless you're part of Leto's breeding program?  :)


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