Overcoming Bias

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.

Latest articles

Five Important Topics

Some topics are especially important. You might think that on such topics we’d try extra hard to be more accurate, both individually and institutionally. Alas, we are also more likely to self-deceive on them, both individually and institutionally.So on such topics you should less trust both your intuition and the usual institutions. Be more skeptical...

Who Wants Social Insurance?

During the Biden administration, we will hear many argue that we should hand out more benefits to more people. Now when we economists argue for policy, we usually make economic efficiency arguments. So it is worth noting that for many of these policies, the main economic efficiency rationale for such handouts is “social insurance”. We are already seeing...

Easy Conspiracy Tests

The most obvious kind of conspiracies to expect in the world are ones between your local organized crime, police, and political powers. These powers should each see each other as rivals to their dominance. So to reduce such threats they should should seek to either weaken each other,  or to ally with each other. There are rumors that such alliances...

Centrists Outside The Overton Window

Overton window – the spectrum of ideas on public policy and social issues considered acceptable by the general public at a given time. The main thing that sets the size of the world economy today is the amount of innovation that has happened before today. In general we don’t induce enough innovation, as innovators tend to benefit society more than...

The Real Problem

Some think that if only we could teach more history to screenwriters, we’d get more realistic historical movies. Or if only we could teach rationality to journalists, we’d get less fake news. Or if only we could teach ad writers more about products features and prices, we’d get more informative ads. Or teach charity workers about effectiveness. Or teach...

ALL Big Punishment Is Cruel

Cruel – willfully causing pain or suffering to others, or feeling no concern about it. Cruelty is pleasure in inflicting suffering or inaction towards another’s suffering when a clear remedy is readily available. …affirmative violence is not necessary for an act to be cruel. … are four distinct conceptions of cruelty. … first … above in degree and...

Universal Basic Dorms

Poor people have too little money. So why don’t we just give them more money, instead of giving them many specific things? The main theory in the literature is paternalism:The traditional justification for in-kind transfers has been “paternalism.” … If members of society care about the consumption patterns of the poorest rather than their utility, then...

We Will Never Learn More On Consciousness

Some complained that I didn’t include a question on consciousness in my list of big questions. My reason is that I can’t see how we will ever know more than we do now. There’s nothing to learn: Zombies are supposedly just like real people in having the same physical brains, which arose the through the same causal history. The only difference is that...

Join The Universe

If you spend most of your time arguing with your immediate family, then even the family members with whom you most agree are at the center of your world, and greatly define you. Or if you spend most of your time focusing on the “hot” topics and status conflicts within a particular academic community, then even the people there with which you most disagree...

Six Struggles Surrounding Status

Struggle For Function – These are struggles that individuals and organizations have to achieve non-status things. Keep a boat from sinking, don’t burn dinner, or have a wedding plan work out. Your status may depend on how well you do these things. Struggle For Allies – You want to be liked by, and allied with, particular people that you encounter....

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