Overcoming Bias - RSS Feed

This is a blog on why we believe and do what we do, why we pretend otherwise, how we might do better, and what our descendants might do, if they don't all die.

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Managed Competition or Competing Managers?

Competition and cooperation [as] opposites, with vice on one side and virtue on the other … is a false dichotomy … The market-based competition envisioned in economics is disciplined by rules and reputations. … Just as competition is not a shorthand for “anything goes,” the quick and thoughtless inference that cooperation is necessarily virtuous is...

A Zoologist’s Guide to Our Past

In his new book The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal About Aliens–and Ourselves, Cambridge zoologist Arik Kershenbaum purports to tell us what intelligent aliens will be like when we meet them:This book is about how we can use that realistic scientific approach to draw conclusions, with some confidence, about alien life...

Real Vs. Fake Stories: Complements or Substitutes?

Regarding meaningful stories and narratives, I see two huge trends over the last century or so.First, we’ve seen a great increase in the amount of fiction consumed. People now spend many hours of day watching TV and movies, reading novels, etc. Centuries ago this fraction of time was far lower. An important fraction of these stories take place in universes...

Position Vs. Topic Contrarians

[You can take] an authority defying position [that you] can share with like-minded folks and which might later lead to glory, while avoiding most of the accuracy-reducing costs of disagreement: be contrarian on questions, not answers. (More)People love to discuss and argue, but usually not on topics where everyone expects everyone to agree. Instead,...

Reviving Freedom of ‘Religion’

In 1890, the [US] Supreme Court … ‘religion’ has reference to one’s views of his relations to his Creator, … In the 1960s, the Court expanded its view of religion … [to include] Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.”In its 1965 ruling … a given belief that is sincere and meaningful occupies a place in the life of its possessor...

Response to Suri Re Futarchy

If by chance one of your writings strikes a cord, and is cited by folks decades later, your main reward may be to repeatedly hear the same misunderstandings and off-target counter-arguments that you’ve repeatedly tried to head off in your writings, but which critics apparently can’t be bothered to read. Sometimes, though not usually, I bother to respond....

Prefer Law To Governance

Libertarians are usually adamant that they prefer less government to more. But sadly this tends to make them reluctant to express opinions on choices between different non-zero government scenarios. After all, that might have them seeming to endorse some non-zero government scenario, while their primary desire is to make it clear that they are anti-government....

To Beat Aliens, We Must Become Aliens

Fight fire with fire. It takes a thief to catch a thief. To defeat your enemy, know and become your enemy.Across the long sweep of history, our ancestors have greatly changed. Animals to primates to foragers to farmers to the industrialists of today. Across these many ages, we’ve greatly changed our environments, habits, styles of thinking, and priorities....

Meta-Comments On UFO Talk

Following my “live and learn” strategy, after having written a bit about UFOs, let me now make some meta-comments.For most intellectuals, UFOs are a topic “beyond the pale” and “outside the Overton window”. As was the topic of sex once, not because people didn’t think sex existed, but because of a consensus it wasn’t a “serious” topic. We generally...

Explaining Stylized UFO Facts

In my last post I summarized some key stylized social facts that a theory of UFOs-as-aliens would need to explain: Any aliens behind UFOs would be amazingly long-lived, and also somehow they’ve coordinated to limit any small part of themselves from expanding and remaking the universe. This gets easier to believe the smaller and rarer they are. (They...

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