Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

CarlShulman comments on Knowing About Biases Can Hurt People - Less Wrong

70 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 04 April 2007 06:01PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (79)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: CarlShulman 05 April 2007 09:11:55PM 9 points [-]

I have also had repeated encounters with individuals who take the bias literature to provide 'equal and opposite biases' for every situation, and take this as reason to continue to hold their initial beliefs. The situation is reminiscent of many economic discussions, where bright minds question whether the effect of a change on some quantity will be positive, negative or ambiguous. The discussants eagerly search for at least one theoretical effect that could move the quantity in a positive direction, one that could move it in the negative, and then declare the effect ambiguous after demonstrating their cleverness, without evaluating the actual size of the opposed effects.

I would recommend that when we talk about opposed biases, at least those for which there is an experimental literature, we should give rough indications of their magnitudes to discourage our audiences from utilizing the 'it's all a wash' excuse to avoid analysis.