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rosyatrandom comments on Generalizing From One Example - Less Wrong

261 Post author: Yvain 28 April 2009 10:00PM

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Comment author: rosyatrandom 28 April 2009 11:38:40PM 48 points [-]

Very interesting post. Perhaps I should mention that there's a possibility to go to the other extreme; assuming you're different to everyone else. A lot of very bad pretentious teenage poetry stands as testament to this.

Comment author: Emile 29 April 2009 06:25:59AM 20 points [-]

Very true. A typical reaction when reading advice or something about the typical flaws of people (biases, planning), is "Yeah but that doesn't apply to me". It often takes a deliberate effort to override the inside view and stop finding excuses.

Note that in both cases the mistake makes us look better:

  • "I know how others work from the experience of my own mind" sounds better than "I don't understand other people"
  • "I don't make that common mistake because I'm different from others" sounds better than "whoops I'm also likely to make that mistake"
Comment author: [deleted] 29 April 2009 03:12:56AM 11 points [-]

Indeed, it's one of the interesting paradoxes about people. We think that everyone is the same as us (shown in examples like this), while simultaneously thinking that we're unique and special (for things like narcissism, the narrative fallacy, and even religion.)

It's actually a wonder we manage to accomplish anything at all, given the messy state of our brains...

Comment author: wtpayne 22 November 2012 09:39:40PM 5 points [-]

Now that the two extremes have been discounted, I have a disturbing compulsive need to know exactly how many other people there are out there who are like me.

Comment author: abramdemski 23 August 2012 07:48:09AM 3 points [-]

Oh! Yes. This makes me recall the moment when I realized that I should, in fact, generalize to other minds from the example of mine. (Before reading your post, it did not occur to me that I had not always done this.) It was in grade 8, after talking with someone who reported mental states similar to mine. I am not sure exactly what I thought before this, but more or less, I felt that I had no way of knowing what it was like for other people.