Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Viliam_Bur comments on Open Thread, May 1-15, 2012 - Less Wrong

7 Post author: OpenThreadGuy 01 May 2012 04:14AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (264)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 02 May 2012 12:03:57PM 5 points [-]

nearly all the heuristics it uses to detect [a failure mode], seem remarkably easy to use to misuse.

Related: Reversed stupidity is not intelligence; Knowing About Biases Can Hurt People.

An argument against a conspiracy theory is probabilistic, because we don't deny that conspiracies exist, only that in this specific case, a non-conspiracy explanation is more probable than a conspiracy explanation, therefore focusing on the conspiracy explanation is privileging a hypothesis.

People are not very good at probabilistic reasoning. So some of them prefer an interesting story. And others try to reverse stupidity by making fully general counterarguments against conspiracies.

The situation is further complicated by not having a precise definition of what conspiracy is. Does it require mutual verbal agreement, or does a silent cooperation on Prisonner' Dilemma also count as a conspiracy? (Two duopolistic producers decide to avoid lowering their product prices, without ever speaking with each other.) Somewhere between this is a cooperation organized by people who avoid to speak about the topic directly. (Each of the duopolistic producers publishes a press article "we try to provide the best quality, because making cheap junk would be bad for our customers".) Actually, the players can even deceive themselves that they are really following a different goal, and the resulting cooperation is just a side effect.