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epigeios comments on Typicality and Asymmetrical Similarity - Less Wrong

25 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 06 February 2008 09:20PM

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Comment author: epigeios 11 May 2012 07:05:39PM 3 points [-]

It seems to me that diseases would be more likely to spread from robins to ducks than from ducks to robins. The reason I am thinking this is the case is that robins fly around more than ducks, and ducks rest in water. This means that ducks are fairly likely to come in contact with traces of past robins, but robins are unlikely to come in contact with traces of past ducks.

The idea that the spread of disease between species is equally likely not only ignores differences in immunity, as Caledonian2 said; it also assumes direct contact between the species. Indirect contact, but contrast, can be one-way.

Even the concept of Alaska being far and Kansas being close is easily explained by calling into question the wording of the question in the experiment. Kansas is close to Alaska, compared to the average of everywhere else. Alaska however, is far from Kansas, compared to the average of the rest of the US. It's definitely a bias as a result of categorization, but it's not because of the properties of the categories. It instead seems to be a bias in how the question is interpreted: in which category the question refers to. And this, obviously, is a result of contextual inference making. Kansas is in a different context than Alaska.