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CharlesR comments on Facing the Intelligence Explosion discussion page - Less Wrong

20 Post author: lukeprog 26 November 2011 08:05AM

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Comment author: CharlesR 08 December 2011 05:29:08AM 0 points [-]

From Scope Insensitivity:

Once upon a time, three groups of subjects were asked how much they would pay to save 2000 / 20000 / 200000 migrating birds from drowning in uncovered oil ponds. The groups respectively answered $80, $78, and $88 [1]. This is scope insensitivity or scope neglect: the number of birds saved - the scope of the altruistic action - had little effect on willingness to pay.

Now I haven't read the paper, but this implies there is only one charity doing the asking. First they ask how much you would give to save 2000 birds? You say, "$100." Then they ask you the same thing again, just changing the number. You still say, "$100. It's all I have." So what's wrong with that?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 08 December 2011 04:24:35PM 0 points [-]

Agreed: if I assume that there's a hard upper limit being externally imposed on those answers (e.g., that I only have $80, $78, and $88 to spend in the first place, and that even the least valuable of the three choices is worth more to me than everything I have to spend) then those answers don't demonstrate interesting scope insensitivity.

There's nothing wrong with that conclusion, given those assumptions.