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October 27, 2016

Comments

Patrick Kirk

I say this in all humility - when I buy and sell shares there seems to be very little link between my research and the results I get. Perhaps reality is so messy that following gut instinct is as good a policy as any attempt at creating a rational framework?

Even if a rational framework is possible, intelligent people will have their own rational fraeworks and it seems impossible for them to see the value of a second one?

Fodwyer

"When Michael Gove said that the country has had enough of experts, he was in part expressing a truth."

Ironically it is the very people who despair of people not paying attention to facts and experts, who keep using this quote to sum it up - when it's not what Gove really said (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGgiGtJk7MA for what he did say).

Even more ironic is that what he said has so far proven more accurate than the forecasts from the 'organisations with acronyms' that he was talking about.

Luis Enrique

I don't think you cite him, but as a callow youth I was tremendously influenced by Karl Popper who also wrote that if we want to progress towards the truth we should be actively seeking to change our views, looking for weaknesses in our own positions, strengths in others.

Like you I suspect I rarely manage to hold true to that ideal, and sometimes I fear that trying to has turned me into an eternal fence sitter. I perpetually struggle with the idea that some things must be worth fighting for, in whatever way available, yet that requires more certainty than I am usually able to muster. Or at least, if you want to fight, you usually have to throw in with the polarised positions available. This was my problem before the invasion of Iraq - although I think those who say that anybody with basic knowledge of USA and the world should have seen how it would turn out (i.e. D2, FR) are right, at the time I was uncertain and found merit is *some* of what the "decents" said. In retrospect that was a mistake, which might reveal a drawback of trying to be openminded? I dunno.

something else I think is helpful to do here is try to often admit error. Even if that just means acknowledging when you wrote something badly so it was open to misinterpretation - even that in my experience is too rarely done, and doing it (genuinely, it is easy to do insincerely) can stop you from solidifying around your own opinions.

Bob

The problem is you can't be totally immune and rational and impartial unless you are sociopath and your brain doesn't work properly to make you interact with others nicely :-)

Welsh Jacobite

"preaching to the choir"

Ironic that people who use this phrase shew that know nothing about church choirs, who rarely if ever listen to what the preacher is saying.

D

A possible problem with the death penalty experiment. Differences in views on the death penalty may be more to do with relative values than the effects of the death penalty. So you might care a lot about evidence of one thing, but not care much about evidence of another. A perfectly rational response to mixed evidence showing both things could, therefore, be to firm up your position. For example, if you care a lot about unsound convictions but little about people that have committed horrible crimes being kept in a cell with a telly, evidence showing both would support your position against the death penalty.

Dipper

Remainers vs Brexiters is purely an artefact of the Referendum. It forced a country with a range of opinions and thoughts on the best way to progress into two opposed camps.

Dipper

I recently spent time looking at Global Warming - is it happening, is human activity responsible, what happens next etc. I ended up less sceptical than when I started, but what was noticeable is the amount of debate that happens over every single point. Just look at any subject on https://www.skepticalscience.com and the extensive comments.

What is really easy is to pick out papers that support your natural view and decide this person is the real expert, and all the rest are second rate.

Lord

It is remarkably easy to see those for whom facts and logic are irrelevant but there seems to be little reason to debate them. One can take it on as an educational mission but without much expectation of success.

Rob

In his obituary of Harry Johnson in 1977, Jagdish Bhagwati said that Johnson moved to the right after he went to Chicago because he was open minded. When his colleagues made a correct argument, he shifted his position, but when he made one, they did not. Is this not the danger of being a symmetric Bayesian in a crowd of asymmetric ones?

Alan Forrest

As a practising statistician, can I put in a plea for Bayesianism? With a 2-level outcome, a prior belief that is overwhelmingly weighted to one side will move to an oppositely weighted posterior only by the most overwhelming evidence. But one of the side-effects of fanatical belief is to self-censor news sources and debate and thereby to remove or weaken the strength of any evidence presented. Thus very seldom are strong believers moved from their position, not because the Bayesian approach needs adjustment, but because of the behavioural side-effects of strong belief.

phayes

Alan, the assertion above that Bayesianism predicts convergence of beliefs is false anyway. 'Bayesian epistemology' would only be useful as a naive or 'first order' model of cognition** and Bayesians have no trouble explaining / predicting divergence of beliefs*. There is no need for some 'new' idea - 'asymmetric Bayesianism' - at least not outside of the apparently epistemologically closed world of economics.

* http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2016/09/persuasion-in-a-post-truth-world.html?cid=6a00d83451cbef69e201bb09391023970d#comment-6a00d83451cbef69e201bb09391023970d

** http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tops.12186/abstract

Bob

Of course the experts can voice their opinions, but in economics they are well known for groupthink. So, yes lets call on their expertise but it is not a be-all and end-all.

rogerh

Is it possible that the human mind is predisposed to a left/right split on most issues. Roughly half the people having a rightish view of life and half having a leftish view.

Bob

Can you stop playing framing games on Twitter please. Then we could take this article seriously:

https://twitter.com/CJFDillow/status/791971459790934016

People run out their current machine longer, switch brand, or look at 2nd hand.

gastro george

"People run out their current machine longer ... or look at 2nd hand."

So a net loss of business to the retailers.

"..., switch brand, ..."

Except, as there are no major computer brands manufactured in the UK, the prices will similarly be higher.

Bob

Net loss of business to foreign exporters :-)

In a world short of demand those abroad have nowhere else to sell their goods other than here. So they will take less money for their stuff, because otherwise they will get nothing. They lose. Good day exporters!

It's time for the UK's buyers to earn their crust and screw down their suppliers hard.

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