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snarles comments on The Amanda Knox Test: How an Hour on the Internet Beats a Year in the Courtroom - Less Wrong

42 Post author: komponisto 13 December 2009 04:16AM

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Comment author: snarles 13 December 2009 07:04:39PM 10 points [-]

I'd like to suggest another type of rationality test for this site. The top contributors should randomly make posts that are flat-out wrong to see how they are received; and they should also randomly make legitimate posts under different names.

Comment author: wedrifid 13 December 2009 11:12:56PM 4 points [-]

I'd like to suggest another type of rationality test for this site. The top contributors should randomly make posts that are flat-out wrong to see how they are received; and they should also randomly make legitimate posts under different names.

When moving from my real name to this more anonymous persona the responses to my comments were noticeably different. This effect diminished over time. I've actually considered creating mechanisms by which I could make a self-blinded test of the effect of names on reception, but this was more with OkCupid in mind. Perhaps because investigating human psychology is even more fun than the dating itself.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 14 December 2009 02:08:53AM 4 points [-]

When moving from my real name to this more anonymous persona the responses to my comments were noticeably different.

Could you elaborate?

Comment author: wedrifid 14 December 2009 05:15:59AM 7 points [-]

Could you elaborate?

Sure. I'll compare what I perceive to be the differences between wedrifid now and, say, < 100 karma wedrifid. The difference in reception was more apparent given that wedrifid didn't have the steep learning curve associated with learning a new micro-culture. * Comprehension. Comments by young wedrifid were less likely comprehended than comments of approximately equal quality now. Not understanding people is a signal of high status. It obliges the lower status people to spend effort to second guess your way of thinking and adapt towards your preferred set of concepts in order to communicate with you. This signalling appears to run deeper than an outward display. Higher status people at times seem actually unable to comprehend things that would otherwise be in their grasp, often to their own detriment. * Rebuttal. People were more likely to reply with retorts to upstart-wedrifid and, more significantly, provided less or lower quality reasons when doing so. This is to be expected less from high status people and more from people with more moderate status who would like to raise it. (There isn't much point going one up if you have to reach 3 down in order to do so.) I get less replies now that I consider to be absolutely idiotic. Again, I don't think that is just because people generate inane nonsense then decide whether or not to post it by whether they recipient is a newbie or for some reason other reason an easy target (eg. out-of-group or currently being scapegoated). I think the calibration of carefulness is built in to the rebuttal generation system.

Of course, I don't know how much of my perception is just me seeing what I expect to see: normal social behaviour. I also don't think this effect would be sufficient to overshadow a top level post by a renamed Yvain or Eliezer. I would probably just wonder who this amazing new poster was. I still remember Yvain catching me by surprise with that burst of brilliant posting in LessWrong's early weeks. Those seem to be received no worse than Eliezer's would have been if he were still posting regularly. Although come to think of it I may have rejected WeiDai's probability posts if I hadn't seen the quality of his other contributions. They are confusing enough topics that I needed to take a while to absorb them before they made sense. Of course, maybe I would have been convinced anyway while trying to write a rebuttal to RenamedWei_Dai and realising that he was absolutely right.

I am intrigued somewhat by snarles' other suggestion, the posts by top contributors that are flat out wrong. My dark side wants to suggest that maybe that is the explanation that those anthropic reasoning posts are examples of this! (Of course, a somewhat wiser side of myself reminds me that it is conceivable that I am confused, not Eliezer.)

Comment author: ciphergoth 14 December 2009 08:55:52PM 1 point [-]

Eliezer has made it explicit on several occasions that he never does this. I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad idea, but he doesn't do it.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 14 December 2009 08:58:07PM 2 points [-]

Aye, and I'll say it again just to be sure. If I want to say something that's not true, I write a story and put it in the mouth of a fictional character.

Comment author: AnnaGilmour 15 December 2009 01:41:47AM 0 points [-]

Another way to go about it is to be contributor-blind. That's what I do.

Comment author: mattnewport 15 December 2009 02:12:23AM 1 point [-]

That's a noble goal but I'm sure you're aware that merely having the intent to avoid a bias does not necessarily confer immunity to that bias. Psychological research is full of examples of people still suffering from a bias even when they have been made aware of it and protest strongly that they are not under its influence.

Comment author: AnnaGilmour 15 December 2009 02:23:05AM 1 point [-]

I meant, as a general rule of thumb. I code/scan/whatnot for the logic, and then also avert my gaze away from the name. I check the name after I have my response for verification. I like to read things like the Wikipedia list of fallacies so it is an interest of mine. With so much awareness these days of perceptual error (and similar) I find that people over-correct the other way to adjust for it. But I understand that I may be influenced by the name and not know it though I really do block it out of my visual field - as odd as that may seem. I check for those kinds of things as a basic rule and tendency. But I love to be wrong and to be challenged, and I know I have areas to sharpen. Logic is very pleasing to me to the point where when someone points out a problem with mine, I feel pleasure. Okay, enough of my testimonial... I am just happy to find this great site! I love how specific everyone gets. A joy... :)