Michael Vassar at Singularity Summit 2010 -- The Darwinian Method from Singularity Institute on Vimeo.
This was weak. Saying that a couple of guys (even if one of them is John von Neumann) possibly independently coming up with an idea (plus, logical arguments for the idea) in itself qualifies it as “rational and scientific” is stretching the meaning of the concepts at best, and is a dead wrong argument at worst.
Clearly, for most “generic” quack theories, such as UFOs or God or conspiracies, one can find similar evidence. Even having this weakness foreshadowed by preceding discussion of failure modes of scholary method doesn’t help.
What gives the idea its rationality is not the fact that a couple of people came up with it, this is evidence much weaker than what one can get by examining the idea itself (or logical arguments about it), however unreliable that is. I feel like this point was probably an (obvious) assumption in the talk, but it was not clearly presented.
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