If I don't use the intelligence trainer, am I seeing every story?

The FAQ says that “liking” a story will cause me to see more like it, but that would imply that I’m not already seeing all stories. I’m pretty good about pruning uninteresting feeds, so if I have the feed I’d like to see everything.

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Yes. The training is 100% explicit. There is no implicit training that’s happening.

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Thanks for the quick response. I’ve recently switched from google reader (I’m probably the only one I know) and I’m really liking it so far.

Out of curiosity, then, what does liking a story do? Does it just modify/constrain the filtering that happens if you don’t like the story? (i.e. if I dislike a topic but like the author, it shows that topic only if it’s that author)

You’ve got the right idea in that training acts as a filter. Liking topics, authors, tags, etc. will allow you to display only those feed items matching those characteristics by clicking the Focus button. Items matching any disliked characteristics will be hidden in all views, with a button in the feed header to “Show hidden stories”.

In your hypothetical, I believe you are correct in that all stories in your disliked topic will be hidden, but will show if posted by a liked author.