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TimS comments on The Affect Heuristic - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: TimS 19 April 2012 06:59:12PM 2 points [-]

I don't understand this assertion. The comment in question asserts that massive innumeracy explains the experimental results from the post. I don't believe that completely explains the data, but it seems like a plausible explanation, so why do you call it "misanthropic"?

Comment author: [deleted] 19 April 2012 07:36:53PM 13 points [-]

The comment in question asserts that massive innumeracy explains the experimental results from the post.

Because it doesn't seem to me like an explanation at all. What is 'stupid' supposed to mean? That's a thing my eight year old says to people when he wants to be mean. And stupid compared to what? There's no mention in the article about variation in responses according to intelligence. Does it show that people are uneducated? I dunno, the article doesn't mention anything about variation in responses according to education.

And these studies are conducted by giving people tricky hypotheticals. If people do badly, can we infer from this that they are stupid, or even that they make similar mistakes when they reason through problems that they care about? Maybe. The article doesn't say. Heck, none of us even know how we'd do in these studies: it's very easy to call the people participating stupid when we're sitting here looking at the answer sheet.

'False' may have been the wrong word, because as an explanation it doesn't rise to the level of being true or false. 'Misanthropic' because that's what it does manage to express: a hatred of human beings.

Comment author: TimS 19 April 2012 07:41:03PM *  5 points [-]

Because it doesn't seem to me like an explanation at all.

Doing badly on written word problems can be explained by illiteracy. Why can't doing badly on math problems be explained by innumeracy (i.e. failure to comprehend mathematical concepts)?

When regression toward the mean is considered a moderate to advanced mathematical concept, I don't think innumeracy is an unreasonable label of the average person. Certainly it is a reasonable critique of the education system that it does not reliably generate numerate graduates (on parallel with the critique that some specific education systems do not reliably generate graduates who can read).

Comment author: [deleted] 19 April 2012 07:45:54PM *  1 point [-]

When regression toward the mean is considered a moderate to advanced mathematical concept, I don't think innumeracy is an unreasonable label of the average person.

I don't think 'illiteracy' or 'innumeracy' is much of an explanation in either case, since in both cases the content of those terms is or is close to 'does badly in these studies'. (ETA: I mean that we'd need further evidence to show that failure to do well on these tests is a failure to comprehend mathematical concepts.) But I don't have any reason to argue with what you've said. I was responding to Topo (ETA: ugh, 5 years after the fact. Nevermind.)

Comment author: Pastafarianist 23 July 2014 04:54:54PM *  0 points [-]

Doing badly on written word problems can be explained by failure to comprehend linguistic concepts. Doing badly on math problems can be explained by failure to comprehend mathematical concepts.

You see, this explanation makes perfect sense.