[extropy-chat] Peak Oil meta-news

Robin Hanson rhanson at gmu.edu
Thu Mar 9 00:07:11 UTC 2006

At 02:28 PM 3/8/2006, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
>Doesn't it make you nervous to be the only modest person on Earth?
>Maybe modesty is wrong.  No one else believes in it.  You're not the
>least bit meta-modest in deciding how modest you ought to be; you don't
>seem to pay attention to what most scientists say about modesty,
>choosing instead to listen to Robin Hanson's fringe theories of modesty.
>Oh, sure, Hanson's theories are much better developed mathematically
>than a few vague things Einstein and Feynman once said, but it's still
>Not The Consensus.

I'd be interested in your or anyone else's pointers to things people take to
be the theoretical consensus on modesty.  Do you have particular quotes
by Einstein and Feynman in mind, for example?

>But is your modesty going to work *in practice*?

Philip Tetlock's new book on Expert Political Judgement can be considered
a data set showing that modesty works in practice.   He shows that a
tendency toward extreme opinions tends to make people less accurate in
their forecasts.

>If you'd won a Nobel Prize, not by being humble before Nature, but by
>practicing your particular advocated form of modesty before scientists -
>your particular balance of credence in established institutions and
>skepticism of fringe claims - then I would say, "Behold, modesty has
>triumphed at least once."

Winning a Nobel Prize is not a very good indicator of accurate predictions,
thought it may be a better indicator of contributions to intellectual 

Robin Hanson  rhanson at gmu.edu  http://hanson.gmu.edu
Associate Professor of Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326  FAX: 703-993-2323 

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