Yudkowsky – A Technical Explanation of Technical Explanation

His logic is not as strong as he’d like you to believe.

This came my way because of a thread on Less Wrong about recommended reading for new rationalists.  Eliezer Yudkowski is a very bright fellow, and this little quote comes from somewhat mathematical lesson on what constitutes a “technical explanation,” as opposed to a verbal explanation.

“Remember Spock from Star Trek? Spock often says something along the lines of, ‘Captain, if you steer the Enterprise directly into a black hole, our probability of survival is only 2.837%.’ Yet nine times out of ten the Enterprise is not destroyed. What kind of tragic fool gives a figure with four significant digits of precision that is wrong by two orders of magnitude?”

via Yudkowsky – Technical Explanation.