What would be an effective way to address Pete Olcott's
misconceptions? If we point out where he is wrong, he
takes his disagreement with everyone else as proof that
everyone else is wrong.
The only method I can think of is Darwin's Algorithm.
When PO has gone splat on his face enough times, either he
will have auto-Darwinated or (conceivably) he will
ask himself whether his infallible reasoning is as
infallible as he thinks it is.
I don't get the auto-Darwinated idea, but I think history shows that
the idea that PO being wrong enough times will result in PO "seeing
sense" can't be right - if it were, PO would have seen sense 25 years
- that he is an unrecognised Genius.
[Reality: PO is rather slow-witted, not following
even basic reasoning that is understood by
- that he has "powers beyond those of nearly every other
human being" e.g. ability to "focus on the essence of
- that he can spot errors in the work of experts, without
understanding the details or even the intended meanings
of the terms they use.
- that his initial naive intuitions are the last word on
a subject, and outweigh the considered conclusions of
- that by posting on sci.math (or elsewhere) and refuting
various established theorems, he can "achieve
credibility" in the AI field that will compel Doug Lenat
to put him in charge of Cyc project development. (WHAAAT???!)
- that Truth is the same as Provability.
- that if a circle has a point removed, no PD-style manipulation of
the shape can result in a full circle.
- that a computer program is the same as a proof.
- that by changing the meaning of the terms used in a proof, so that
the theorem is false with the new meaning, he has somehow "refuted"
- any claim by PO starting with the word "Whensoever"
The problem for you is that while he is deluded, it is always going to
be VERY VERY VERY HARD to address even the simplest misconceptions,
because his delusions disincline him from listening seriously to what
you are saying. Worse, he is inclined to simply reject anything that
contradicts his initial intuitions, because he is a superiour thinker
to you, and cannot conceive of his own thought processes being
flawed. OK, history shows that occasionally some minor PO
misconception /can/ be addressed, but at what cost?
Regarding his delusions - the thing about delusions is that you can't
expel them just by pointing them out, however ridiculous they may seem
to everybody else! Delusions by nature form a robust framework and
reinforce each other when challenged, if necessary becoming more and
more elaborate - basically, whatever it takes to maintain the
delusions, because the delusions are typically serving some higher
purpose for the patient.
So we're stuck with his delusions, and so I can't conceive of any
"efficient way" of addressing his misconceptions!
My question for you (JB and others) would be why do you feel the
/need/ to achieve this?
Do you feel this would somehow be "helping" PO? I suggest that is a
mistake, and it really would not. PO is not a student learning a
subject, and simply correcting some minor misconception does not in
reality help him AT ALL. Perhaps if your aim is really to "help" him,
you should acknowledge his genius and write a letter to Doug Lenat
recommending PO as the perfect person to manage Cyc development,
except of course that would not help either, that's just going deeper
into PO's delusional framework. (But you see what I'm getting at...)
If after A LOT of effort, you correct a PO misconception, SO WHAT?
There will just be another misconception around the corner, then
another and another and so on. What is genuinely being achieved by
this? Nobody is getting any closer to achieving their goals!
[I should say that personally I like helping students with problems,
and don't mind investing my own time doing that, but that's simply not
what's going on with PO (or NN, AP, WM, PV, etc.). Of course, I do
accept there are many other reasons for posting: getting your own
ideas properly sorted, entertainment, boredom, social contact and so on.]
OTOH, NOT addressing PO's misconceptions has no disadvantages that I
can see. :) Years of futile effort saved, and the overall outcome is
1) Still PO will fail to gain his required credibility through
discrediting famous theorems (or otherwise)
2) Still PO will not be put in charge of Cyc development,
or create a human mind in a computer, or teach mankind
the ultimate meaning of Truth/Love/Peace or whatever
3) Still PO will believe he is an unrecognised genius, and
will from time to time make outrageous claims of
refuting this theorem or that.
4) Still all his claims will have absolutely no effect on other
peoples' lives. (He will not be put in charge
of your kid's education, or be extracting taxes from you to
fund his research.)
mistake in my reasoning.
these things that way.