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Patrick_(orthonormal) comments on Zut Allais! - Less Wrong

23 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 20 January 2008 03:18AM

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Comment author: Patrick_(orthonormal) 21 January 2008 04:38:21PM 2 points [-]

This matters emotionally, even though it shouldn't (or seems like it shouldn't).

Hypothetical money is not treated as equivalent to possessed money.

My point exactly. It's perfectly understandable that we've evolved a "bird in the hand/two in the bush" heuristic, because it makes for good decisions in many common contexts; but that doesn't prevent it from leading to bad decisions in other contexts. And we should try to overcome it in situations where the actual outcome is of great value to us.

A utility function can take things other than money into account, you know.

As well it should. But how large should you set the utilities of psychology that make you treat two descriptions of the same set of outcomes differently? Large enough to account for a difference of $100 in expected value? $10,000? 10,000 lives?

At some point, you have to stop relying on that heuristic and do the math if you care about making the right decision.