Evidence on why abstract research is or isn’t respected

I previously suggested an explanation for very abstract research sometimes not being well respected: very abstract thought often looks superficially similar to very basic confusion, which looks amusingly silly. For instance, thinking about paraconsistent logic looks a lot like being confused about whether yes means no.

This theory suggests that abstract thought would mostly be less respected in areas that people have common sense views, because common sense is where it looks especially silly to be confused about basic assumptions.

I think this describes the abstract topics that Robin Hanson is interested in—and originally asked about—pretty well: the future, the human mind, the economy, practically relevant philosophy, and human behavior.

Maybe it’s just true of all areas? I don’t think so— biology and chemistry probably don’t have so many common sense views I think. Though physics and engineering probably have some, due to people having intuitive physics models.

So I think this is some evidence for the earlier theory, but I still don’t believe it that much.

One response to “Evidence on why abstract research is or isn’t respected

  1. Oh, biology has lots of common-sense models, it’s a problem which crops up deucedly often.


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