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gRR comments on The Affect Heuristic - Less Wrong

37 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 November 2007 07:58AM

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Comment author: gRR 10 February 2012 06:28:04PM 1 point [-]

One group saw the measure described as saving 150 lives. The other group saw the measure described as saving 98% of 150 lives. The hypothesis motivating the experiment was that saving 150 lives sounds vaguely good - is that a lot? a little? - while saving 98% of something is clearly very good because 98% is so close to the upper bound of the percentage scale. Lo and behold, saving 150 lives had mean support of 10.4, while saving 98% of 150 lives had mean support of 13.6.

Pragmatics of normal language usage prescribes that any explicitly supplied information will be relevant to the hearer. Assuming that "98%" is relevant, and no other useful information, it is rational to support a measure with such a high level of efficiency, and to support it more than one for which no efficiency figure is provided.