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Firefly, Serenity

Within Reason

Posted on 2012.01.09 at 09:20


dentin at 2012-01-10 17:36 (UTC) (Link)
Since you brought up rationality (www.lesswrong.com), I'm going to soapbox for a while. Yay soapboxes!

The whole point of rationality and rational decision making is that yes, we should in fact require evidence for everything we learn. Being told something is evidence. Reading things in books is evidence. However, each of the bits of evidence has reliability and probability statistics associated with it, and people are stunningly bad at managing statistics.

The only reason it's absurd to assume that everything we have learned has changed each time it is experienced is because we have evidence, from past observations, that things don't change.

Lastly, as you mentioned, it is wrong to assume that someone operating with different assumptions is behaving irrationally; however, people truly -are- irrational, at a core level. Two ideal rational entities with the same assumptions will always select the same outcome, as a consequence of Bayesian statistics, which define rational decision making. With that in mind, I can comfortably say that people are irrational without qualification.
ehowton at 2012-01-10 20:25 (UTC) (Link)
However, each of the bits of evidence has reliability and probability statistics associated with it...

In my previous career, we applied the following criteria to each piece of information: possible, probable or confirmed. There was also a category for of possible value which required an ability to piece together numerous, seemingly innocuous items for a broader collective perspective.

People truly -are- irrational, at a core level.

I believe that, yes. My intent is to try and flatten the playing field just a bit by proving it first, rather than assuming it. And in that way, it will hopefully also be applied to me :)

That being said the Bayesian probability is fascinating! I haven't run across that before. I will want to study it further. See if I'm making statistical errors myself in order to correct them, and then see where else they can be applied - thanks!

Edited at 2012-01-10 08:26 pm (UTC)
michelle1963 at 2012-01-11 19:54 (UTC) (Link)
people truly -are- irrational, at a core level.

In our alligator brains, no doubt. However some of us have advanced beyond that somewhat about some things. Some of us work harder at it than others.

When interacting with someone I do not know well, I give the benefit of the doubt that s/he is responding rationally, but may not be working with the same set of data that I am, or that the due to our different experiences in life, may interpret that data differently.

This gives a starting point for communication, correcting data (either the other person's or my own) and resolution.

If I assumed from the out-set that the person in question was irrational, I would probably not waste the time and energy trying to communicate unless I had no choice in the matter.
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