Tag Archives: fiction

Robin Hanson

Clearly, Eliezer should seriously consider devoting himself more to writing fiction. But it is not clear to me how this helps us overcome biases any more than any fictional moral dilemma. Since people are inconsistent but reluctant to admit that fact, their moral beliefs can be influenced by which moral dilemmas they consider in what order, especially when written by a good writer. I expect Eliezer chose his dilemmas in order to move readers toward his preferred moral beliefs, but why should I expect those are better moral beliefs than those of all the other authors of fictional moral dilemmas? If I’m going to read a literature that might influence my moral beliefs, I’d rather read professional philosophers and other academics making more explicit arguments. In general, I better trust explicit academic argument over implicit fictional “argument.”

Robin Hanson, comment to Eliezer Yudkowsky, Epilogue: Atonement, LessWrong, February 6, 2009

Ted Chiang

By now you’ve probably seen a Predictor; millions of them have been sold by the time you’re reading this. For those who haven’t seen one, it’s a small device, like a remote for opening your car door. Its only features are a button and a big green LED. The light flashes if you press the button. Specifically, the light flashes one second before you press the button.

Ted Chiang, ‘What’s Expected of Us’, Nature, vol. 436 (July 7, 2005), p. 150

Alfred Hitchcock

To put a situation into a film simply because you yourself can vouch for its authenticity, either because you’ve experienced it or because you’ve hear of it, simply isn’t good enough. You may feel sure of yourself because you can always say, “This is true, I’ve seen it.” You can argue as much as you like, but the public or critics still won’t accept it. So we have to go along with the idea that truth is stranger than fiction.

Alfred Hitchcock, in François Truffaut, Hitchcock, New York, 1985, p. 203