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July 21, 2011



" What’s wrong with changing your mind if new information comes to light?"

I agree, nothing. The problem with the current lot is that the new information is invariably that their original idea was shit.


I always start a discussion with "on the big issues off the day over your lifetime, on which ones have you been wrong or changed your mind"

mine is GM and the Eu btw, to name but two.

I dont think you can have a serious discussion with anyone regardless of viewpoints, without them being able to answer that question in under 30 seconds.

CS Clark

"They were then told that the wisdom of crowds means that average estimates are often more accurate than individual estimates, and told what the average estimate was. Subjects were then invited to give a second estimate of the number of peas, being paid according to the accuracy of that estimate."

Did they control by giving people false information and then telling them, falsely, that a theory proved that the information provided falsely was more likely to be true, to see if the same people who adjusted positively according to good information would also adjust negatively according to bad information?

Maybe consistency is just a bullshit filter.

David Friedman

One possibility is that consistency is valued because it makes people's behavior more predictable, which in turn lowers the cost to other people of dealing with them.

David Ellis

Following up on #1. I don't think these people are changing their minds because of new information about the substantive issue but because greater political opposition than expected has meant that they can no longer get away with an increasingly obviously self-serving policy.

Consistency is value because you could get eaten by a saber toothed tiger if your mate fell asleep on watch.

David Ellis

In other words consistency is a genetically selected trate as without it you were unlikely to survive. Of course, in this political, class riven, dog eat dog world, self-serving, alientated, what's-in-it-for me society, pragmatism rules and in a crisis we have feverish zig-zagging. This must eventually give way to a regime of violence or socialism.


Whilst the conclusion about desire for consistency is plausible, the pea study has another game-theoretic interpretation.

The social pay-off for changing your estimate to the group average is zero. You get no personal credit if you were off on your first estimate, and none if you were right on your first and changed it to the group mean.

The potential pay-off for sticking to a far-from-mean guess is that you could be proven more right than the group. Sticking to this guess makes it look like you had reason to value your judgement over the average. You are clearly high value.

It may therefore be worthwhile to pursue a low probability of a high reward over a certainty of a zero reward. This would be an extrinsic rather than intrinsic preference for consistency.

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