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Benquo comments on The D-Squared Digest One Minute MBA – Avoiding Projects Pursued By Morons 101 - Less Wrong Discussion

1 Post author: Benquo 19 March 2017 06:48PM

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Comment author: Benquo 20 March 2017 08:39:38PM 0 points [-]

Good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance.

There's one construction of this which is obviously false - lies being told in support of X doesn't inherently discredit X, because often there are also lies being told supporting not-X, and they can't both be false. But in the stock options example, Davies is pointing to something more specific: a principled argument for lies, on the grounds that they are necessary to support the desirable policy. His application of this to the Iraq war generalizes this somewhat: when you find people explaining away the misleading statements of the principal advocates for an action or proposition, as just part of a sales pitch, you should suspect that the lies are in fact central to the case, and not just accidental.

Fibbers’ forecasts are worthless.

This is a pretty radical claim. It makes the most sense in conjunction with the last point, about audits. In the absence of any force holding people to account, once they've shown themselves willing to mislead at all, we should expect people to lie quite a lot. But, in practice there are varying levels of audit and I'm not sure what cognitive simplifications to use.

Comment author: Lumifer 20 March 2017 09:14:19PM 0 points [-]

a principled argument for lies, on the grounds that they are necessary to support the desirable policy

It's not like this is unusual. In the generic form this is probably as old as politics.

Here is a recent example: Jonathan Gruber being candid about how the Obamacare sausage was made:

This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure that the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay. So it was written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law that said healthy people are going to pay in -- if you made it explicit that healthy people pay in sick people get money it would not have passed. Okay. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical in getting the thing to pass