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Commenting on: A first lesson in meta-rationality

@Nick - I’m sure that book would be a good read. Mind wandering is definitely an important component. Related to this topic is also fantasy-proneness and lateral thinking, all being various expressions of ‘openness’.

Also, the ability to shift perspectives is closely linked to the ability to take on other people’s perspectives. That involves cognitive empathy, mind-reading, and theory of mind. This goes hand in hand with inclusivity and a larger circle of moral concern, even to the point of an out-group bias.

As the opposite side of the equation, I was thinking that the direct personality correlate of functional fixation would be what is called cognitive closure or need for closure’ along with need for certainty and low tolerance for ambiguity. It’s a tendency toward control and constraint.

Creativity et al

Nick Gall 2024-05-09

Commenting on: A first lesson in meta-rationality

David, I suspected the omission was a conscious choice, but I wanted to give you a heads up just in case.

Benjamin, Thanks for the additional pointers to literature. I’m always interested in research into the supposedly mysterious processes at play in meta-rationality such as creativity, intuition, imagination, improvisation, etc. I just started reading some papers in a fascinating book, “Creativity and the Wandering Mind: Spontaneous and Controlled Cognition - A volume in Explorations in Creativity Research” :
‘The purpose of this book is to provide readers with a state-of-the-art collection of papers about the impact that mind wandering and cognitive control have on several manifestations of creativity, including imagination, fantasy, and play.’

Just another example of the myriad aspects affecting creativity et al!

Functional Fixation

Commenting on: A first lesson in meta-rationality

@Nick Gall - I have no grand thoughts to add. But functional fixation sounds like the opposite of what social scientists call cognitive flexibility. The latter is a key component of fluid intelligence, the main factor of increasing average IQ over recent generations (i.e., Flynn effect).

Other correlated facets are cognitive complexity, pattern recognition, perspective shifting, aesthetic appreciation, abstract thought, negative capability, etc. Also, as relevant to your inquiry, cognitive flexibility and fluid intelligence are strongly linked to creativity and divergetnt thinking, of course along with perspective shifting.

You might look into the extensive social science research that touches upon personality theory and has direct relationship to ideological differences. Anyway, I’m willing to bet that all of this overlaps with meta-rationality, as part of general neurocognitive development.


David Chapman 2024-05-09

Commenting on: A first lesson in meta-rationality

Thanks; fixation is a major theme, but I’m not intending to cover the particular psychological literature you refer to. (I’m reasonably familiar with it, and it’s relevant, but not enough so to go into.)

(Functional) fixation

Nick Gall 2024-05-09

Commenting on: A first lesson in meta-rationality

Hi David,

I’m writing up my thoughts on creative improvisation, which I believe is founded on the ability to recontextualize, reframe, repurpose, and I was wondering if you discussed the concept of “functional fixation” in your writings on meta-rationality, since you discuss fixation in Meaningness.

One obstacle to the ability to reframe is a behavior known as “functional fixation” or “functional fixedness”: . A paradigm of this cognitive bias is demonstrated by the “candle problem”: “give participants a candle, a box of thumbtacks, and a book of matches, and ask them to attach the candle to the wall so that it does not drip onto the table below”. There is an extensive psychological literature on the phenomenon and factors (including exercises) that can reduce it, ie increase one’s ability to appreciate the nebulosity of a situation. Some reference to it might be a useful addition to meta-rationality.

Bayes intro

David Chapman 2024-04-18

Commenting on: Pop Bayesianism: cruder than I thought?

the intensity of your reaction to Galef’s rather anodyne remarks

Hmm, interesting. I thought “whoa, maybe I had better tone that post down, or unpublish it altogether—I don’t want to be needlessly offensive.”

So I re-read it, and couldn’t find anything intense or offensive in it. It seemed rather anodyne.

Maybe I’m just insensitive.

Thank you for posting the link to your write-up!

possible Bayes intro along the line you suggest

Michael Weissman 2024-04-17

Commenting on: Pop Bayesianism: cruder than I thought?

David- Although I’m puzzled at the intensity of your reaction to Galef’s rather anodyne remarks, your suggestion about how to introduce Bayes style calculations reminded me that I’d written something along just those lines a few years ago as auxiliary material for my wife’s stats class. Perhaps you’d like to have a look and make comments? Everybody else is welcome also to comment, swipe parts, etc.

metacognition and pre-rationality

K. Shen 2024-04-05

Commenting on: Aspects of reasonableness

Very interesting! Thank you for your insights. A few thoughts that occurred to me:

  1. In the education system, seems like PhD is the first time where there are no more guardrails or training wheels, hence having to confront reality, where systems fail. Perhaps we need to start having people confront reality earlier?
  2. Related to the above, even without mastering rationality/systems, many people confront the reality that their tools fail. How one orients to that seems to fall under the domain of metacognition. I wonder how much of your work will be about doing metacognition in general, to better support the sub-specialty of metarationality.
  3. I imagine that for many people, rational systems kind of just fall out of the sky/are thrust upon them, without much explanation. If the system works, great. If not, people are lost. What if those rational systems were better motivated in education via metacognitive reasoning?
  4. Where I’m landing is that it seems like the missing piece for many people is taking metacognition seriously, and metacognition seems like it may be a pre-rational activity in the sense that it is a muscle that can be built without rationality as a prerequisite. It’s also very much an ongoing process. That first metacognitive insight might be that one has to leverage the power of systems and formal methods. But then one might fall into the complacency trap of pursuing the One real system. However, if one was primed to metacognitive thinking previously, then hopefully one would be more predisposed to the next move to metarationality.

prerequisites for meta-rationality

David Chapman 2024-03-28

Commenting on: Aspects of reasonableness

Thanks, these are excellent questions!

what maturity of systems/formal thinking do you think is needed

This question ideally should get answered through empirical research. Unfortunately, the data are scant. So what follows is mostly based on my personal observations—although some studies have been done.

If one needs PhD level training

A PhD is definitely not required. It’s common to develop meta-rational competence when employed in rational work (which could be technical, or legal, or administrative, for example). What’s distinctive about PhD education is that it’s the first point within the educational system where meta-rationality may be required, and may be transmitted. It’s rare for it to come up in undergraduate or master’s level education, although if you are lucky you may get a bit of it.

Just a priori, the prerequisite is understanding rationality itself well enough that you can start asking questions about how and when and why it works, and can start intervening to make it work better. That requires having seen rationality both succeed and fail multiple times, and noticing patterns in that. It probably also requires solid experience with more than one sort of rational system, so you can see how they can be varied.

It’s possible there’s also a biological maturational component. For some reason, 28 seems to be a magic age. That’s when meta-rationality suddenly starts making sense for a lot of people. Maybe it just takes that long to get the relevant experience, but (speculating wildly) it’s imaginable that there are programmed innate brain changes at around that age.

Does the casual categorization that people use every day even count as rational-thought-work in your book? Or would it fall under reflexive reasonableness?

No, and yes, respectively. People use “rationality” to mean somewhat different things in different contexts; in this book, I use it specifically to mean more-or-less formal reasoning about the real world.

Metacognition” is a mainstream concept in cognitive science. It doesn’t require rationality in that sense. Meta-rationality is a form of metacognition, but most metacognition is not meta-rational.

What kind of systems thinking is needed for metarationality?

K. Shen 2024-03-25

Commenting on: Aspects of reasonableness

Great fan of your work!

I was curious, what maturity of systems/formal thinking do you think is needed for one to practice metarationality?

If one needs PhD level training, then it seems that metarationality will only be accessible to the few.

However, it seems to me that people casually deal with systems and ontologies in the form of categories every day, and I wonder if there is a gentler path to metarationality that is less hard core? Does the casual categorization that people use every day even count as rational-thought-work in your book? Or would it fall under reflexive reasonableness?

The TL;DR: I wonder how much metarational work can be done without a lot of rational training first, or simply by engaging with baby-rational or baby-formal work. Or is rational work really a prerequisite and catalyst for getting better at metarationality?


Prototypically countable

David Chapman 2024-02-27

Commenting on: The parable of the pebbles

Interesting, thank you!

Maybe pebbles are the prototypically countable objects—durable, easily manipulable, readily available…

Origins of the parable

pozorvlak 2024-02-27

Commenting on: The parable of the pebbles

I can’t find an older exact match for the parable, but discussing the origins of mathematics in terms of pebbles goes back at least as far as John Stuart Mill’s 1843 “A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive” (, and people have been criticising it since at least Frege’s 1884 book “The Foundations of Arithmetic” (which makes fun of Mill’s “gingerbread and pebble” arithmetic, before discussing some cases in which natural number arithmetic initially seems to apply but gives wrong conclusions).

Absence of evidence

Erik 2024-02-17

Commenting on: Statistics and the replication crisis

You wrote: “But science doesn’t work, most of the time, even. The replication crisis consists of the realization that, in many sciences, most of what had been believed, based on statistical analyses, was actually false.”

That may be true, but if a replication experiment does not reach “p < 0.05” it does not imply that the original claim was false. After all, the absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence!


tooearly 2024-02-04

Commenting on: Post-apocalyptic life in American health care

Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.

Donald Berwick

Developmental changes in the meaning of "believe"

David Chapman 2024-01-20

Commenting on: Reasonable believings

I agree with everything you say here!

There’s a very striking, relevant observation I read somewhere (unfortunately I can’t remember where). You can go through any amount of education in non-STEM disciplines, get a PhD or tenure, and have never had the emotional experience of being unambiguously wrong. Everything is always arguable, and “wrong” is indistinguishable from “not in accord with in-group consensus.” Whereas in learning math, you are wrong dozens of times per day. Some things are actually true or false, not just a matter of in-group opinion. This used to be true in much of non-STEM education as well, but… postmodernism.

My hope is that stage 5 thinking can find more productive ways to engage with stage 3

Yes… an explicitly developmental orientation seems to be characteristic of stage 5. The question “how can we help people move through the stages, if that’s appropriate for them” becomes clear and pressing.

As you observe, there are major cultural forces, recently entwined with mainstream politics, that actively oppose the 3->4 transition. Perhaps this can only be addressed at the level of mainstream politics, which is a bit discouraging for someone (me) who tries to avoid that. Maybe some jiu-jitsu move will emerge that does an end-run rather than direct confrontation.

In Practice

Kevin 2024-01-20

Commenting on: Reasonable believings

Thank you for the insights, especially the commitment to belief as practiced in the wild. I think it is highly under-rated (especially amongst people committed to rationalism) how useful “truth-orthogonal” practices are. (Where here “truth” is in the narrow, rationalist sense, and not in the broader sense that you use it, including things like hagiographic/“mythic” truths).

One thing I wanted to get your thoughts on: I agree that, from a stage 4+ perspective that a lot of modes of believing are not interested in truth. However, it seems to me that in stage 3, people can’t tell that is the case. I.e. to the conspiracy theorist, they are one and the same. Everything looks like capital-T Truth. And so you have people drinking bleach, because they take their beliefs really seriously (well, seriously enough to act on them, though perhaps not enough to commit to them if they stop serving their core function of organizational/social/mythic concerns). I.e ethnographically, I am not so sure that fact/belief distinction is clear from a stage 3 perspective. The things they believe feel like fact to them… They even have a word for this: “alternative facts.”

Being able to see the difference seems to be very hard to communicate — perhaps that is what the typical STEM 3->4 education does, and it is much to my chagrin to see so many people working against seeing this transition. The worst part of it is that in a sense highly practical, because most people negotiate the world using reasonableness.

My hope is that stage 5 thinking can find more productive ways to engage with stage 3, though I have my reservations as well.

Link updated

David Chapman 2024-01-11

Commenting on: Resisting or embracing meta-rationality

Thank you! I have updated the link to point to the same domain as the others, and it should work now.

Meaning and Meta-Rationality episode missing

Phil Goetz 2024-01-11

Commenting on: Resisting or embracing meta-rationality

The link to the Meaning and Meta-Rationality episode is to a different Internet domain, which no longer exists.

The waste, confusion and inefficiency is the feature

c1ue 2023-12-30

Commenting on: Post-apocalyptic life in American health care

The United States spends almost double, per capita, what any and every other nation spends on health care. This extra spend totals at least 2 trillion dollars a year. The maze put up by insurance companies is the tip of the dagger in Americans’ backs. The “waste” you describe in the form of additional hospital billing - that’s all good from an insurance company’s point of view because they just end up passing this through to their customers while getting a percentage off the top. It is literally the equivalent of a hedge funds “investments” on which the managers get 2% of net and 20% of “profit” each year.
We need a public system of medical care in the US. Not a public option for insurance - that’s like saying we can tame Godzilla; while Medicare for all is better than nothing, the actual solution as seen in the rest of the world is health care as a public utility.
As for health care being a political football - I disagree completely. Health care reform is the true third rail of American politics.

The medical racket

John Thurloe 2023-12-27

Commenting on: Post-apocalyptic life in American health care

I am 73 years. I have no medical condition or diagnoses. I take no prescription medication. I have long stopped needing the Quackerie. I don’t give them a penny and know better than to consider their advice. There are no magic beans. Real science says you will live longer and happier by staying away from garbage medicine.

I spent 30 years as a medical science director. A more corrupt, lying, greedy, racketeering bunch doesn’t exist.

My mother is 94 and doing pretty well. She fired the doctors who were junking her up on stupid drugs and got better.

ethnomethodological understanding not required

JerryDenim 2023-12-26

Commenting on: Post-apocalyptic life in American health care

The whole situation is very simple. The United States has a private for-profit health care system where private insurers are expected to foot the bill for a bloated and overly expensive industry. Private insurers like receiving your monthly premiums from you and your employer but don’t like paying health providers for services as it cuts into their “profits”. Insurers can’t tell people to “F’*% off, we ain’t paying” which is what they want to do, but they can insist on only communicating by Fax or burying you in paperwork and Kafka-esque bureaucratic tail-chasing while claiming it all serves some greater unknowable purpose related to their well-meaning, but unfortunate institutional ineptitude. This is utter bullshit. It is an overly elaborate ruse. The system appears mind-numbingly complicated because insurers don’t want to pay. The American private insurance health care system is a “market failure”. Insurers have a perverse incentive not to serve their purpose (paying claims/providers) unlike FedEx or Amazon. They fight with paperwork and obfuscation, along with “mistakes”, “oversights” and “delays” that are deliberate policy. Delayed payments are payments denied if the patient dies in the interim. Providers fight back with more paperwork and policy. You get stuck in the middle - paralyzed, sick, stressed, in debt, but paying premiums and fearing bad credit scores, debt collectors and bankruptcy.

Dementia care in Australia

Adam Crow 2023-12-25

Commenting on: Post-apocalyptic life in American health care

My mum suffers dementia. Luckily in Australia she is receiving free health care and is based now in a fantastic dementia ward (with 13 others) in an aged care centre in her home town (2100 population). Dad lives in their home in the same town. He cracked some ribs last year in a fall and had to be taken by ambulence to the nearest big hosptial (60km away). Luckily that was all free. He was there for almost 3 weeks.
As the eldest son I had to organise Mum’s aged care, and it was made very easy. The government organisations seemed to ask the right questions.
Very professional staff. We appreciate how lucky we are. Mum and Dad don’t have much money, they ran a small business farming, and a taxi service for 60 years. Good to know that the government is supporting them so well.
We hear many stories about health care in the US , frightening stuff.

Superseding truth?

xpym 2023-08-07

Commenting on: Interlude: Ontological remodeling

So, if “true” as a concept scores only 2.2, what’s the meta-rational “workhorse” replacement? Something like “adequate”?

Perhaps the system is working quite well... for insurance co shareholders

JD 2023-08-03

Commenting on: Post-apocalyptic life in American health care

First–what a nightmarish situation you describe. I’m sure seeing your mother’s decline into more severe dementia is heartbreaking, and to spend this time battling colossally frustrating dead ends is the last thing you (or anyone) needs.
Second–the for-profit insurance model is inherently bad–especially medical insurance. Customers pre-pay for a service (paying their medical bills) that, if delivered, eats into the insurer’s profits. So their incentive is to dawdle, confuse, stonewall, etc.–and if they do that long enough, the patient may get better–or die–and they are off the hook. And not only do the customer’s pre-pay, they are required to buy the insurer’s product, and often have little choice which insurer to go with–and changing insurers is made absurdly difficult.
Third – I wonder if the move to concierge medicine by the wealthy is exacerbating these problems, as those with power and influence to enact big changes have removed themselves from this syster and thus, for the most part, from caring to fix it. (analoguous to private jets and the joys of economy commercial)

The Cell of Theseus

Fred Polgardy 2023-07-28

Commenting on: Reductio ad reductionem

The way you described “the transition from cell to non-cell” makes me think of the Ship of Theseus. I’ve always considered the Ship of Theseus to be the the birth of postmodernism, and one of the most important thought experiments in all of ancient philosophy. (Despite its reputation as cute dinner party banter.)

Accounts, theories, and understandings

David Chapman 2023-06-10

Commenting on: What can you believe?

Is a model of belief and truth just a set of propositions?

“Model” is rather vague, so there’s no definite answer here. However, “theory” is sometimes used specifically to mean a set of propositions, and I try to use that word with that meaning consistently. Rationalist explanations of truth do try to be theories in this sense. (This is one way in which rationalism tries to be a rational theory of rationality.) In fact, rationalist models mostly fail to be theories, because beliefs aren’t propositions, and you can’t make a theory work starting from that wrong assumption.

The outstanding example of a rationalist model of belief and truth that is a theory is model theory. That’s a beautiful piece of mathematics, and in some sense it is the rationalist theory of belief and truth. However, no one uses it outside the narrow field of mathematical logic, because it fails to capture most of what we understand about its informal subject matter.

If so, what sense does it make to talk about abandoning them if the idea of propositions is taken as incoherent?

Propositions are an artificial construct that are made necessary only because rationalist theories take abstract universal beliefs as the prototypical case. (Taking “propositions” here in the technical sense of the word, as opposed to a vague, informal meaning like “things people say.”)

Relevant here is the explanation of three types of explanations in “Accounts, theories, and understandings.” Inasmuch as this book aims to explain belief and truth, it offers meta-rational understandings of them, rather than rational theories. Meta-rational understandings do not involve propositions (in the technical sense of that word). They mostly don’t even center “claims” or “assertions” (although those may be involved). Understanding (in terms of ontological distinctions) is prior to anything that could be true or false. (Using “true” and “false” informally here.)

Abandoning propositions

Crawl 2023-06-09

Commenting on: What can you believe?

If we accept that the idea of propositions is incoherent—that there is nothing that could be believed or true in the rationalist sense—then we have to abandon the rationalist models for belief and truth.

Is a model of belief and truth just a set of propositions? If so, what sense does it make to talk about abandoning them if the idea of propositions is taken as incoherent?

a simple solution to the planets thing: YOU get a number

Malcolm 2023-06-07

Commenting on: Interlude: Ontological remodeling

what if we just decided that every astrological body, including planets or things-that-might-be-planets or I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-A-Planet… got an IAU number? like there are currently only 8 things that don’t have one, unless I’m misunderstanding, and they already gave Pluto a hilariously large one given how long we’ve known about it.

…and then the IAU wouldn’t have to sweat about what gets a number, because everything gets a number, and they could rest because THEY can do their job without THEM needing to be the ones who are responsible for coming up with a reasonable definition of “planet”.

and folk classifications could continue to treat Pluto as a planet for cultural reasons or whatever (I still call Venus “the evening star” sometimes even though that name is listed on wikipedia’s page “List of former planets”)

(more precisely, it seems like comets still wouldn’t get numbers?)

Dancing with systems as permaculture education

Danyl Strype 2023-06-04

Commenting on: A bridge to meta-rationality vs. civilizational collapse

David, thinking about Brent’s comments from 2001, which you responded to by talking about the need for apprenticeship. Are you familiar with the system of Permaculture Design Certificate training?

David Holmgren and co designed this as a way to introduce people to the basics of the design system, in a short course (or a series of shorter ones). In a way that gives students a solid conceptual basis for lifetime learning about the application of the design principles, choice of material techniques to implement designs, and so on. Anyone who has completed a PDC is considered capable of teaching one.

First, I wondered if this could be a model for introducing people to meta-systemic thinking and practice. Then, I wondered if it might already be an example of doing exactly that? The approach that many of the “systems thinkers” often referenced by permies, eg Donella Meadows, author of Dancing With Systems, seem to me more akin to stage 5 than stage 4.


David Chapman 2023-05-01

Commenting on: Maps, the territory, and meta-rationality

Hi, Richard, I’ve followed up by twitter DM—in short, cool! I’d like to read it!

Comments on meta-rationality primer?

Richard Ngo 2023-05-01

Commenting on: Maps, the territory, and meta-rationality

Hi David, I’ve found your writing on meta-rationality very illuminating, and have written an exposition of my understanding of meta-rationality and how it addresses a range of open problems in epistemology. I couldn’t track down your email address but I’d love to get your feedback on it - drop me a message if so!

You can find me at @richardmcngo on twitter, or via my homepage (

Maybe it means something, which would be embarrassing

David Chapman 2023-04-14

Commenting on: This is not cognitive science

I should say, btw, that I haven’t made a serious attempt to figure out what Hegel was trying to say. It’s possible that it’s perfectly sensible in context. If you can explain it, that might force me to find a different example!

Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Volume 3, p. 550

David Chapman 2023-04-14

Commenting on: This is not cognitive science

It’s real, but I simplified it slightly (as I said in this footnote), to make it less unwieldy. The full quote is:

This is a light that breaks forth on spiritual substance, and shows absolute content and absolute form to be identical; - substance is in itself identical with knowledge. Self-consciousness thus, in the third place, recognizes its positive relation as its negative, and its negative as its positive, - or, in other words, recognizes these opposite activities as the same i.e. it recognizes pure Thought or Being as self-identity, and this again as separation. This is intellectual perception; but it is requisite in order that it should be in truth intellectual, that it should not be that merely immediate perception of the eternal and the divine which we hear of, but should be absolute knowledge. This intuitive perception which does not recognize itself is taken as starting-point as if it were absolutely presupposed; it has in itself intuitive perception only as immediate knowledge, and what it perceives it does not really know, - for, taken at its best, it consists of beautiful thoughts, but not knowledge.

It’s p. 550 in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Volume 3. You can see it on Google Books here.

I stole the example from David Stove’s “What is Wrong with Our Thoughts? A Neo-Positivist Credo.”

Source for the the Hegel quote?

Jonathan Moregård 2023-04-14

Commenting on: This is not cognitive science

The only hit on google for “self-consciousness recognizes pure Thought or Being as self-identity, and this again as separation” is this blog.

Same for subsections of the quote, such as “self-consciousness recognizes pure Thought or Being as self-identity” and even “self-consciousness recognizes pure”

Is this an actual Hegel quote?


David Chapman 2023-04-12

Commenting on: Probability theory does not extend logic

Oh! I got sufficiently sucked into the Ognjanovic, Raskovic and Markovic book that I forgot to address your actual point, sorry!

On page 49, there is some discussion of John Maynard Keynes, and then “Thus probability extends classical logic” (ostensibly according to Keynes).

Yes, by “classical” Keynes here meant Aristotelian logic.

And, it’s worth noting that Keynes was doing metaphysics more than mathematics. He was trying to explain what reasoning “really” is, with an unfulfilled fantasy that this could be reduced to some mathematical system. As Ognjanovic, Raskovic and Markovic observe on page 50, his attempted axiomatization doesn’t work.

Jaynes fell into the same sort of error. He was sure that science “really” is Bayesian inference, and therefore, by metaphysical intuition, probability theory must be the correct account of scientific reasoning. But it isn’t.

Ognjanovic, Raskovic and Markovic

David Chapman 2023-04-12

Commenting on: Probability theory does not extend logic

Thanks! That section of the book is available on Google Books, so I read it.

A couple pages earlier, pp. 47, they discuss Frege’s discovery of the predicate calculus (i.e. “logic” in the modern sense). On the one hand, this overcame the severe limitations of Aristotelian logic, which they praise him for.

On the other hand, (p. 48) “from the viewpoint of this book, which is devoted to connections between logic and probability, Frege’s influence might be considered as negative. Namely, … there was no room for probability in his approach. … [predicate calculus’] elegance and effectiveness completely eclipsed the probability logic.”

So, the upshot is that, “logic” for the past almost-century has meant “predicate calculus” unless otherwise specified. There are lots of formal systems called “logics,” including probabilistic ones, but they’re used only in narrow specialized applications, because they lack predicate calculus’ generality. This was the key point that Jaynes apparently didn’t understand.

Aristotelian logic can be generalized in several directions, and some of them turn out to be incompatible. Predicate calculus gets you the ability to say anything you want (pretty much). Probabilistic logic gets you the ability to express uncertainty at the level of the language itself (whereas in predicate calculus you need to introduce additional axioms and notation to talk about probabilities). However, in basic probabilistic logic, you have to give up most of the power of logical quantification.

There are probabilistic logic systems that give you more ability for logical quantification. They’re complicated and have various undesirable properties. The one covered in this book requires literally infinitely many axioms, and proofs of infinite length. That’s not the sort of thing Jaynes had in mind, and does not seem likely to be useful in practice.

Extending Logic

Will Kuch 2023-04-11

Commenting on: Probability theory does not extend logic

This blog post is really quite excellent and I also enjoyed all of the comments. I just wanted to add something that I found in a book which may be of interest.

“Probability Logics”, Ognjanovic, Raskovic and Markovic, Springer 2016, ISBN: 978-3-319-47011-5

On page 49, there is some discussion of John Maynard Keynes, and then “Thus probability extends classical logic” (ostensibly according to Keynes).

So I thought that this was an interesting thing to find in a book. Please bear in mind that I personally am in agreement with your overall thesis here, but the reference to Keynes is interesting and I just wanted to share that. Of course, Keynes interpretation of probability is pretty bizarre, so it might come as no surprise that he would take that view.


John McDonnell 2023-03-17

Commenting on: A fully meta-rational workplace

I bet early OpenAI was like this. Algorithms at SFIX when I joined (2015) was somewhat like this. Maybe you could think of YCombinator as being like this? In some ways the old Netflix culture doc implied something like this (maximal freedom from structure, if you do a bad job you are fired)

The biggest problem is there ends up being a superposition between L3 and L5. L3 stuff happens and drags the whole thing down. How can you staff your org only with L5 people? Natural tendency is to apply L4 systems to prevent the L3 stuff.

Big statements. Lack of evidence

kabs 2023-02-28

Commenting on: Upgrade your cargo cult for the win

“Companies run on cargo cult business management; states run on cargo cult policies; schools run on cargo cult education theories (Feynman mentioned this one); mainstream modern medicine is mostly witch doctoring.”

Could you please provide some evidence of this? And something to show it’s a significant percentage?

Gilbert / joint commitments

David Chapman 2022-12-15

Commenting on: A bridge to meta-rationality vs. civilizational collapse

BTW, I waved toward Margaret Gilbert’s work on joint commitments (cited in the SEP social ontology article) in my chapter on believing as a social (joint commitment) phenomenon.