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Incompetence and strong opinions

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Sieben Posted: Sun, Aug 21 2011 5:53 PM

I'm looking for information on the following phenomenon. My friends and I both agree it exists and is very prevalent, but can't think where to start researching it.

People do an incredible thing. No matter how incompetent they are, no matter how poor their knowledge or technical ability, people will sit there and pretend like they should be taken seriously. The possibility that they could be wrong never crosses their minds.

There is no lower limit on how bad people's opinions can be. They will still expect to be taken seriously and respected. Political opinions are the most visible offenders. No matter how poorly people understand politics, the US government, logic, etc, they will sit there and give you their opinion as if they are certain it is valid.

One possible explanation is that the cost of irrational beliefs is low in politics, but I have found people believe irrational things even when the cost is very high. For example, obese people often hold highly incorrect and counterproductive views about nutrition and weight loss. I've also encountered it in coding, where my peers will insist their code is correct despite the fact that it isn't working.

You find the error and they shut down. Like you're a jerk for helping them.

So whats it called? Whats it called when there is no lower limit on how bad someone's opinion can be but they still sit there and expect to be taken seriously?

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Autolykos replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 6:00 PM

The Dunning-Kruger effect, maybe?

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Sieben replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 6:07 PM

Yeah that's a possibility. From the studies I've read on the DK effect it doesn't seem prevalent enough to explain the amount of irrationality. It is also strictly a matter of competence - i.e. people are too incompetent to realize they're incompetent. We're picking up on some sort of ego problem or just like... ridiculous formation and maintenence of strong opinions in the face of very little evidence or technical ability. The DK effect points to an ad hoc phenomenon, but part of what we want to describe is the initial formation.

There's also the stench of egalitarianism in the air as if people are entitled to hold opinions simply because they are people. Something about the use of social norms - i.e. its rude to call someone "a moron" - to try and get away with outrageous self serving behaviour.

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Nielsio replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 6:19 PM

Theramintrees talks about DK here:

 

I don't remember if I thought it was a sound analysis, but I do have a high opinion of this youtuber.

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Lewis S. replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 6:20 PM

Oh man does this hit home with me. I have a couple of friends who are like this, and I've thought about it quite a bit. I'm not sure I've ever been able to understand the reasons behind it, except that it might just be a simple ego thing.

My friends know that I don't spend my time playing video games, watching stupid TV shows, or reading trashy novels, or whatnot. They understand, and readily acknowledge, that I am highly self-educated, a good thinker, and well-informed about history, economics, and political theory. And yet, whenever they are presented a set of facts with which they are unfamiliar, they immediately become defensive and simply deny them as if I made the stuff up. It's incredible, because I always offer resources and works they can look if they're skeptical. It simply does no good.

People are religiously married to the mainstream conception of history, economics, and the state the schools spoon feed them. Offering a different perspective and new facts is very much like telling them there is no Santa Claus, and the conditioned response of irrational denial takes over.

Just a quick example, not even two days ago: I told a friend that, if the Constitution was his measure of legality, then the Bush/Obama wars were illegal and unauthorized by the Constitution, to which he replied that it stated in the constitution the president is authorized to send up to a million troops in combat operations without a declaration from Congress. I laughed and said show me where it says that. He spent twenty minutes on his iPhone, and then changed the subject.

You can't make this stuff up...and how do you even respond to someone that screwed up and stubborn? "Don't cast your pearls before swine" I say. Some people are beyond hope.

EDIT: While the above story doesn't really involve reasoning ability; it's an attitude that I often see displayed when people might be suffering from the D-K effect...denial.

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Sieben replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 6:32 PM

Lewis S.:
Just a quick example, not even two days ago: I told a friend that, if the Constitution was his measure of legality, then the Bush/Obama wars were illegal and unauthorized by the Constitution, to which he replied that it stated in the constitution the president is authorized to send up to a million troops in combat operations without a declaration from Congress. I laughed and said show me where it says that. He spent twenty minutes on his iPhone, and then changed the subject.
Totally. But that's really remarkable that you both agreed on "victory" conditions. One consistent tactic people employ is to shift the goalposts every time they are in danger of losing. Personally I would never let him live it down. If he asks "why you're being a jerk", the obvious response is that he's sitting there LYING to you with a straight face, expecting you to respect his opinion. That's abusive.

Lewis S.:
Don't cast your pearls before swine" I say. Some people are beyond hope.
Well, in politics you can ignore them with few consequences. But if people are going to cause their children anxiety over going to hell, tell them to hate gays and islams, and make them waste time in church every weekend, then its doing actual harm. Similarly with poor nutritional advice, people exacerbate serious health conditions that have repeatedly been shown to destroy quality of life.

It's almost like a death wish.

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Wheylous replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 6:57 PM

Theramintrees talks about DK here:

I find something oddly comforting about a bodiless black and white pixelated head talking to me in calm tones. It gives the head authority and a paternal feel.

Also, nice vid.

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Wheylous replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 7:13 PM

Also, maybe their brain works like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxaWvJ-ziXA&feature=related

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Sieben:
There's also the stench of egalitarianism in the air as if people are entitled to hold opinions simply because they are people.

Bingo.  It's that opinions are subjective, and therefore cannot be proven wrong...which for idiots translates to "one opinion is just as good as another"...and in turn, "all opinions are equal".  Plus it certainly helps when from a very young age everyone is told "everyone is entitled to their opinion."  Things like this are so easily stretched so far beyond their original meaning that they are used to justify essentially anything.

Here's a great video highlighting clips from an interview with Thomas Sowell where he speaks to this same phenomenon.  (The relevant part starts at 1:06 and goes to about 2:12)

 

 

(The full interview can be found here).

 

Lewis S.:
it might just be a simple ego thing. [...] People are religiously married to the mainstream conception of history, economics, and the state the schools spoon feed them. Offering a different perspective and new facts is very much like telling them there is no Santa Claus, and the conditioned response of irrational denial takes over.

Bingo.  I went a bit into this here.  Never underestimate the power of indoctrination.

 

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Sieben:
One possible explanation is that the cost of irrational beliefs is low in politics [...] in politics you can ignore them with few consequences.

Sowell also illuminates these quite well...demonstrating the first, and disproving the second...

 

 

(Full interview here)

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Sieben replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 8:20 PM

John James:
Bingo.  It's that opinions are subjective, and therefore cannot be proven wrong...which for idiots translates to "one opinion is just as good as another"...and in turn, "all opinions are equal".
They definitely use this justification ad hoc to try and bail themselves out of mistakes, but I don't think its why people form horrible opinions in the first place.

In the Sowell clip, the opinions of these inflammatory journalists are clearly motivated by profit and flashiness. I don't know that there's a similar mechanism operating at the individual level that causes people to branch out create strong opinions about things way way beyond their competence. It is a very risky strategy for individuals, even if no one ever calls them on it (ex: nutrition).

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Do you really think they recognize the risk?  Again, in many of these things they face no direct risk at all (as Sowell points out is the case for intellectuals), but even in the case of one's own nutrition, there is no mmediate consequence to be seen...but there is certainly the immediate satisfaction gained from feeling knowledgable and superior.

I think you're making assumptions about the analytical powers of these people we are talking about that are quite a stretch...not to mention their willingness to engage in any sort of meaningful consideration (which, as I pointed out, is quite low).

 

Sieben:
I don't know that there's a similar mechanism operating at the individual level that causes people to branch out create strong opinions about things way way beyond their competence

Sure there is.  It was mentioned earlier.  It's called "ego".

 

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Autolykos replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 8:49 PM

Let's add some more things to the mix:

  • Cognitive bias - this is everywhere. There's selection bias, reporting bias, and confirmation bias, just to name a few types. A more common term for this is cherry picking. On one level, these all involve looking for ways to rationalize one's beliefs so that they appear to be based on more than mere whim. But on another, more fundamental level, they involve coming up with self-serving beliefs in the first place.
  • I think the above can be readily exacerbated when one's critical-thinking skills have been hobbled, as is routinely done in public schooling. At the most extreme, a person's cognitive biases may not even be recognized by him as such given his overwhelming ignorance.
  • Ignorance itself may not even be seen as such when critical thinking has been eviscerated. The number of arguments from ignorance that people make in all sorts of areas is truly staggering.
  • When people lack even the means to discern matters of truth/fact from matters of taste/opinion (and therefore all matters can be seen as the latter), social standing becomes paramount. Such a person thus sees being challenged about his beliefs as an inherently personal attack. If he doesn't defend himself, he'll likely "lose face". As a result, "winning the argument" to him means "getting the other person to back down or shut up".

Hopefully the above will shed some light on just how bad things are, intellectually speaking, for all too many people.

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Sieben replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 8:52 PM

John James:
Do you really think they recognize the risk?  Again, in many of these things they face no direct risk at all (as Sowell points out is the case for intellectuals), but even in the case of one's own nutrition, there is no mmediate consequence to be seen...but there is certainly the immediate satisfaction gained from feeling knowledgable and superior.


Well they know they're controversial opinions, that's why they adopt them. If you're incompetent and you hold a controversial opinion, there is a good chance you will be wrong. This much is very obvious. People see explosions all the time on the news between competing sides, so they know conflict is a real possibility. Maybe they think conflict is non-lethal?

But holding views about nutrition... I don't know. The time-frame of the effects is like... a few days. Knowledge of how to do a VLCD or PSMF means 2-3lbs of weight loss/day. So idk if you can chalk this up to time preference.

Another example might be drugs. There's a mainstream bias against ephedrine, even though there are countless papers validating its safety and ability to instantly correct the SNS defect that accompanies virtually all cases of obesity. So here, the time frame is in hours, and the effects on mood and functionality dramatic. And then there's all the people who are against marijuana even though it would drastically improve their lives in 15 minutes. etc etc

So I'd say there are some pretty extreme short term harms created by these flippant opinions.

John James:
Sure there is.  It was mentioned earlier.  It's called "ego".
You maximize your ego by focusing on a narrow discipline and becoming an expert. Adopting controversial opinions you know nothing about is very risky.

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John James replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 10:12 PM

Sieben:
People see explosions all the time on the news between competing sides, so they know conflict is a real possibility. Maybe they think conflict is non-lethal?

Again you're missing the point and giving them way too much credit.  Do you honestly think these people think that far?  People can know incredibly horrible things are going on...they can even see them on tv...and still not give a shit.  That is of course until it happens to them.  I guarantee you the minute some idiot defending the TSA has his 95-year-old, 104-pound grandmother dying of leukemia forced by the TSA to remove her adult diaper for a patdown, he'll change his pro-TSA tune.  Same goes for a pro-business regulation advocate.  The minute that guy tries to do anything on his own...maybe help his kids open a lemonade stand...and runs face first into the wall of the state, that "pro" turns to an "anti" pretty darn quick.

But it's usually never until someone is personally inconveninced do they care.  That's what "First they came" is all about.  That's why the growth of the state is so easy.  People face virtually zero direct risk (at least none they can see, and certainly not immediate) from touting their nonsense opinions, but they gain an immediate satisfaction from acting like they know more than others.

 

But holding views about nutrition... I don't know. The time-frame of the effects is like... a few days. Knowledge of how to do a VLCD or PSMF means 2-3lbs of weight loss/day. So idk if you can chalk this up to time preference.

I have no idea what you're talking about.  There is no possible way you could argue negative affects of poor nutrition habits of the typical know-it-all American are immediately evident...even to the person himself.  I also guarantee you if you were to walk up to a 350 lb. girl and say "I could make you weigh 120 lbs. in two days...all due to fat loss and in a totally healthy way, but you have to accept what I'm telling you about nutrition and eat what I tell you" and have her reply "No thanks, I know what I'm doing."
 

Another example might be drugs. There's a mainstream bias against ephedrine, even though there are countless papers validating its safety and ability to instantly correct the SNS defect that accompanies virtually all cases of obesity. So here, the time frame is in hours, and the effects on mood and functionality dramatic. And then there's all the people who are against marijuana even though it would drastically improve their lives in 15 minutes. etc etc

You're talking about things that people have been conditioned to believe are bad for them.  Again, never underestimate the power of indoctrination.
 

So I'd say there are some pretty extreme short term harms created by these flippant opinions.

You're seriously going to argue that people are recognizably and measurably harmed in the short term, with those effects being felt virtually immediately by the person himself, from not taking ephedrine?

 

You maximize your ego by focusing on a narrow discipline and becoming an expert. Adopting controversial opinions you know nothing about is very risky.

Do you understand anything about human beings?  You maximize your ego by doing whatever makes you feel superior at that moment.  Are you seriously going to argue someone doesn't get an ego boost from purporting to tell other people what's what?  I don't care what would make someone justifiably have an ego...and these people certainly don't care what is "risky".  Not to mention, where is this risk?  What direct personal harm does someone face for claiming "we need a bigger stimulus"?  We're talking about why idiots do what they do and you're trying to say "well, no that couldn't be the reason they do that because that is illogical and 'risky'."

 

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Sieben replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 10:36 PM

John James:
Again you're missing the point and giving them way too much credit.  Do you honestly think these people think that far?  People can know incredibly horrible things are going on...they can even see them on tv...and still not give a shit.  That is of course until it happens to them.
Even if people can't figure out whats going on analytically, holding harmful beliefs will eventually be revealed by trial and error. If they ignore the feedback it means something weird is going on.

John James:
I guarantee you the minute some idiot defending the TSA has his 95-year-old, 104-pound grandmother dying of leukemia forced by the TSA to remove her adult diaper for a patdown, he'll change his pro-TSA tune.  Same goes for a pro-business regulation advocate.  The minute that guy tries to do anything on his own...maybe help his kids open a lemonade stand...and runs face first into the wall of the state, that "pro" turns to an "anti" pretty darn quick.
I don't think so. Changing your opinion doesn't actually change what happens IRL (in politics). Its easier to say "well the TSA shouldn't pat down the elderly" or "well we still need business regulations for large corporations". I.e. preserve 99% of the original idea. Though I'm open to seeing a survey done pre/post TSA patdowns to see how drastically people's opinions have changed.

But I'm confused. Are you arguing that people pay attention to the consequences of their opinions or not?

John James:
But it's usually never until someone is personally inconveninced do they care.  That's what "First they came" is all about.  That's why the growth of the state is so easy.  People face virtually zero direct risk (at least none they can see, and certainly not immediate) from touting their nonsense opinions, but they gain an immediate satisfaction from acting like they know more than others.
This is too optimistic. People have no incentive to oppose policies that target them directly because their resistence is unlikely to reverse the offense, and is likely to get them individually imprisoned or killed.

John James:
There is no possible way you could argue negative affects of poor nutrition habits of the typical know-it-all American are immediately evident...even to the person himself.
They are not immediately evident. Nothing is evident if your life is static. But that doesn't mean there aren't immediate short term repercussions of holding incorrect viewpoints.

John James:
I also guarantee you if you were to walk up to a 350 lb. girl and say "I could make you weigh 120 lbs. in two days...all due to fat loss and in a totally healthy way, but you have to accept what I'm telling you about nutrition and eat what I tell you" and have her reply "No thanks, I know what I'm doing."
This is incomplete. But, if we grant for the sake of argument that that kind of weight loss is possible, I think she would disbelieve me. I've actually experienced it because the hyperobese people I know say that they can lose weight any time and they know how to, but they just aren't doing it (for some reason). They still hold totally incorrect views about nutrition but they are trying to shut down the conversation ASAP by claiming knowledge.

John James:
You're talking about things that people have been conditioned to believe are bad for them.  Again, never underestimate the power of indoctrination.
The point is that there are really really short term consequences to holding mainstream opinions, therefore time preference cannot be explanatory.

John James:
You're seriously going to argue that people are recognizably and measurably harmed in the short term, with those effects being felt virtually immediately by the person himself, from not taking ephedrine?
I'm thinking on the margin. Of course, day over day, the person will remain the same.

John James:
Do you understand anything about human beings?  You maximize your ego by doing whatever makes you feel superior at that moment.  Are you seriously going to argue someone doesn't get an ego boost from purporting to tell other people what's what?  I don't care what would make someone justifiably have an ego...and these people certainly don't care what is "risky".  Not to mention, where is this risk?  What direct personal harm does someone face for claiming "we need a bigger stimulus"?  We're talking about why idiots do what they do and you're trying to say "well, no that couldn't be the reason they do that because that is illogical and 'risky'."
Its illogical and risky because they can get called on it and embarassed in public. If they can't figure that out in advance analytically, they'll figure it out by trial and error. Its like people don't think they could beat up Mohd. Ali even if it would boost their machismo, so why do they think they can beat people who have superior intellects and time spent studying politics or nutrition or drugs?

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MrSchnapps replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 11:33 PM

I think maybe a contributing factor would be people's utter alienation from politics, law, economics, and philosophy, besides reading the NYT or the Huffington Post, or even flipping on the tube to watch Fox News. Everyday people have busy lives--they don't prioritize knowledge in these areas as a genuine goal worth striving for. It simply doesn't appear on the list. People just don't have incentive to take the time to move past their prejudices (see Burke) on the subject, whatever those prejudices may be. What reason could they possible have? Besides, prejudices are psychologically comfortable. I've learned a little something about shaking up the worldviews of others. You have to immediately throw them a life raft. You can't just take away their life raft and leave them with nothing; they'll drown in the open sea. I realize it's a limiting analogy, but shattering worldviews is a psychological art. It's a skill--like any other--to be learned.

They've got their house, car, iPhone, and enough entertainment to keep them busy for the next two hundred years, if they so chose. Why bother to learn political theory? Everything is going smoothly enough, why dig deeper?

They tend to be more interested when it hits home, e.g. when they lose their house, or as listed above, their grandma's adult diaper is searched. I've seen this personally happen. The burning passion hits when they enter crisis mode, and their world is shaken up by personal experience.

Otherwise, for us more inquisitive types, the process of questioning our prejudices and trying to reason things out is just a normal thing. That's why we find everyone else so strange--because they don't appear to have this natural drive that we have. They need serious incentives; We don't.

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John James replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 11:37 PM

Sieben:
Even if people can't figure out whats going on analytically, holding harmful beliefs will eventually be revealed by trial and error. If they ignore the feedback it means something weird is going on.

Well, for one thing, again, we're talking about idiots.  But more importantly, I'm still not seeing the direct link between the harm and the beliefs that is (apparently) so easily seen.  Could you give some examples please?  How are these people you are talking about directly and essentially immediately harmed by saying or believing the things they do?

The truth is the "harm" far removed from the individual, by causal lineage (or lack thereof) as well as time.  It's just like the broken window.  You see the glazer.  No one sees the lack of a suit.  The harm is much more decentralized and indirect...and spread over time.  And even if someone is fortunate enough to eventually have some sense knocked into him over countless episodes of trial and error, odds are he's already spent his life doing the damage...and there are 5 more idiots already there who have taken his place.

 

Changing your opinion doesn't actually change what happens

Huh?  Who the hell suggested it did?

 

But I'm confused. Are you arguing that people pay attention to the consequences of their opinions or not?

You're arguing that people who are too stupid to know what they're talking about yet are dumb enough to act as though they do are somehow an anomoly, because apparently even though they're idiots they should recognize the "risk" involved in doing idiotic things like talking out of their ass.

I'm arguing that people have no problem holding (and touting) idiotic beliefs because they see no direct (and certainly no immediate) negative consequence to doing so, but they gain an immediate sense of satisfaction from purporting to know more than other people.

 

This is too optimistic. People have no incentive to oppose policies that target them directly because their resistence is unlikely to reverse the offense, and is likely to get them individually imprisoned or killed.

Are you sure that's what you meant to say?  I would argue that people have every incentive to oppose policies that target them directly.  By definition if it targest them directly, they are directly affected...hence creating an incentive.  Now if that was a mistake and you meant to say "no incentive to oppose policies that don't target them directly", then yeah.  That's a large part of my point.  You're basicaly agreeing with me.  And I don't understand how optimism has anything to do with anything here.



that doesn't mean there aren't immediate short term repercussions of holding incorrect viewpoints.

Again, could you please give some everyday examples of this please?  And no, I don't mean the gravitational repurcussions of holding the incorrect viewpoint that you can fly...I'm talking about what are these consequences that can be seen in the immediate short term from the exact kinds of things we are talking about...holding moronic views about economics, politics...the everyday things you brought up.  How are these people you are talking about directly and essentially immediately harmed by saying or believing the things they do?

 

Sieben:
This is incomplete. But, if we grant for the sake of argument that that kind of weight loss is possible, I think she would disbelieve me. I've actually experienced it because the hyperobese people I know say that they can lose weight any time and they know how to, but they just aren't doing it (for some reason). They still hold totally incorrect views about nutrition but they are trying to shut down the conversation ASAP by claiming knowledge.

My point was to illustrate that time in fact is a factor in what matters to people and how willing they are to care about the falsity of their beliefs.  Again, you immidiately feel the effects of the false belief that you can fly.  I guarantee if the effects of poor nutritional habits (or good ones) were that immediate, people would be much more willing to listen to (and accept) the truth about those subjects...as opposed to so doggedly holding to their incorrect beliefs.  My point is it is much easier to cling to false beliefs when the negative consequences of holding such beliefs are not immediately felt.  And the effects of having poor nutritional habits are one such thing.  You don't become a 350 lb. pig after two weeks of eating poorly and not exercising.  It's a gradual process.  Like creeping moss.  Or cooking a frog.

The point is that there are really really short term consequences to holding mainstream opinions, therefore time preference cannot be explanatory.

Examples please.

 

Of course, day over day, the person will remain the same.

Bingo.  And the fact that you can argue that that makes absolutely no difference baffles me.

 

Its illogical and risky because they can get called on it and embarassed in public.

I'm aware of that.  What does that have to do with the people we're talking about?  People do illogical and risky things all the time.  Simply saying why someone shouldn't do something doesn't discount any reasoning as to why they actually did it.  That's like observing someone marking a wrong answer on a test and exclaiming "that's illogical that someone would mark the wrong answer, because obviously giving the right answer would lead to a better outcome on the test, and marking wrong answers is risky because it's possible the person would receive a bad grade, and that could be embarrassing."

1) You're assuming the person knows the right answer

2) You're assuming the person cares about marking the right answer

3) You're assuming the person cares about getting a good grade

4) You're assuming the person would feel embarrassment from getting a bad grade.

I can show you plenty of people for whom none of those are true.

 

If they can't figure that out in advance analytically, they'll figure it out by trial and error. Its like people don't think they could beat up Mohd. Ali even if it would boost their machismo, so why do they think they can beat people who have superior intellects and time spent studying politics or nutrition or drugs?

Getting beaten to a pulp is a lot more painful and lasting than simply being shown to be incompetent.  And it's also something you literally have no control over.  Embarrassment is a state of mind.  You can't embarrass someone who doesn't think he's been shown up...just like you can't embarrass someone who doesn't know any better or doesn't care.  When was the last time you saw an embarrassed infant?  I drove passed a hobo standing on the side of the freeway urinating toward the cars as they passed by.  He looked like he had just crawled out of a sewer and had a very small penis.  He did not seem the least bit embarrassed.

And your argument is that idiots should either be able to predict that they will be shown up or learn that they will be shown up through experience...and therefore they would be averse to touting idiotic beliefs.

1) Do the people you show to be ignorant seem to be deeply affected after you've done so?  On the same level as they might, say, after getting punched in the face by a professional boxer?

2) Comparatively speaking...exactly how often do you think these people come across someone educated, informed, and interested enough to show them to be full of crap?  Do you think that happens more often than they get away with it?  Perhaps even the same amount?  Or is it more than likely the case that they actually get shown to be ignorant such a small percentage of the time that statistically it's completely worth it to pretend to know what their talking about because the payoff they get from feeling superior to others outshines the odds that they'll get put in their place?

 

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John James replied on Sun, Aug 21 2011 11:48 PM

MrSchnapps:
Everyday people have busy lives--they don't prioritize knowledge in these areas as a genuine goal worth striving for. It simply doesn't appear on the list. People just don't have incentive to take the time to move past their prejudices (see Burke) on the subject, whatever those prejudices may be. What reason could they possible have?

That's a large part of my point.  (Again, as I outlined).  But evidently Sieben is arguing they have plenty of incentive to do exactly that.  Apparently the consequences of not doing that are vast...and they are quite immediate, as well as directly tracable to the person's ignorance in a direct cause and effect relationship.  Now he hasn't offered any actual specifics as to what those incentives/consequences are, but apparently they're there.  I hope he's not simply relying on "well they could get embarrassed."

 

They tend to be more interested when it hits home, e.g. when they lose their house, or as listed above, their grandma's adult diaper is searched. I've seen this personally happen. The burning passion hits when they enter crisis mode, and their world is shaken up by personal experience.

Ya don't say.

 

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MrSchnapps replied on Mon, Aug 22 2011 12:54 AM

True, but it's somewhat like the alcoholic who knows that he's drinking himself to death and yet he continues to do so, knowing full well the consequences. If saving your own life isn't enough of an incentive, I don't know what is.

Of course, there are matters of addiction there, but anyone can easily imagine a dozen similar scenarios. Maybe the other scenario is the five year old who refuses to brush his teeth, despite being told that too much candy will rot one's teeth away. I think it really only starts to make sense to him once he's having a cavity filling. Likewise, another scenario would be the people who refuse to take their health seriously (workaholics), and they only beging to change their habits once they've been under the surgeon's knife--yet the entire time, the disincentive and consequence was there. It just wasn't real enough.The incentives and consequences may be real, yes, but that doesn't mean people will take them seriously. There's just no guarantee of this. That's why as long as people have their comfortable entertainment and credit cards, they appear to be mostly satisfied.

 

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I'm laughing way too hard at this.

I think it's probably just because most people take themselves seriously and understand what they mean despite how they communicate it, leading to misunderstanding. If it's a psychological phenomenon it's one that affects the entire population.

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Self-aware exhibit A)

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Aug 22 2011 5:28 AM

Birthday Pony:
I'm laughing way too hard at this.

Oh really? What's your point in even saying this? That is, what psychological effect do you hope that the above statement will have on other people in this thread? Hmm?

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Autolykos:
Oh really? What's your point in even saying this? That is, what psychological effect do you hope that the above statement will have on other people in this thread? Hmm?

I thought it was made pretty clear it has anything to do with other people, and that he/she is more concerned with his/her own ego...ironically a lot like precisely what we've been talking about throughout the thread.

 

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Aug 22 2011 6:12 AM

Yet there's no reason to tell us about it in this thread unless he wants to affect us in a certain way by it. Were he only concerned with his own ego, he'd just laugh his ass off and keep it to himself.

I'll jump the gun a bit and submit that the reason Birthday Pony deigned to inform us of his raucous laughter is to obtain or maintain greater social standing on his part. Birthday Pony, like most people, intuitively understands that social standing involves both oneself and others. That is, it seems useless to have an opinion of oneself that isn't shared by those around him. Hence why these sorts of games are played - in order to cultivate a certain perception of oneself by his fellows.

Edit: I just realized that, in a way, you're right - it's still all about his own ego. It's just that he feels dependent on others to boost it.

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Autolykos:
I just realized that, in a way, you're right - it's still all about his own ego. It's just that he feels dependent on others to boost it.

Again, as I said, exactly like what has been discussed throughout this thread.  And how exactly could one have an ego without other beings to feel superior to?  Again, as I said only a few posts ago, you maximize your ego by doing whatever makes you feel superior at that moment.  Other people don't necessarily have to be affected.  It's about how you feel.

It sounds like you want a make an argument like Sieben...like someone acts out in during class and behaves badly, and the explanation given is that he was looking for attention...and your response would be "well that just makes him look bad.  No one respects him for that, he just looks foolish."  Well so what?  What's that got to do with the reasoning you were just given?  Just because you think it makes him look foolish doesn't mean he thinks that.  And even if he does agree it makes him look bad, again you're assuming he cares. 

It's just like Sieben has been doing, projecting his own worldview into the place of others.  He is under the impression that you build your ego by actually becoming a legitimate expert, and thereby gaining a justifiable reason to feel superior by actually having superior knowledge.  But that's nonsense.  That may be what makes him feel superior, but that isn't necessarily the case with someone else.  By the same token he finds it to be "risky" to adopt controversial opinions you know nothing about.  Again, he may consider that risky, because evidently he actually cares and places a level of importance on being right and knowing what he's talking about.  That doesn't mean someone else does.  If being proven wrong doesn't phase you, where is the risk?  The only example he's given so far is the possibility of embarrassment from being shown to be incompetent.  But as I said, that's completely relative.  He seems to think it isn't.  He seems to think embarrassment is just as straightforward objective as a punch in the nose.

 

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Sieben replied on Mon, Aug 22 2011 6:51 AM

MrSchnapps:
I think maybe a contributing factor would be people's utter alienation from politics, law, economics, and philosophy, besides reading the NYT or the Huffington Post, or even flipping on the tube to watch Fox News. Everyday people have busy lives--they don't prioritize knowledge in these areas as a genuine goal worth striving for. It simply doesn't appear on the list. People just don't have incentive to take the time to move past their prejudices (see Burke) on the subject, whatever those prejudices may be. What reason could they possible have? Besides, prejudices are psychologically comfortable.
In politics, this is partially right. Except when you expose their prejudices they're at risk of being embarassed. For example, if someone believes something factually incorrect about WWII (ex: nuclear bombs/unconditional surrender), that's something you can look up and really rub in. So again, it is risky to hold uninformed opinions IF (big if) you're going to be scrutinized at any point. Most people are not scrutinized ever.

But then there's prejudices that this model can't explain, such as what I've been saying about peoples' attitudes towards drugs and nutrition. Here we see millions of people turning down (in some cases) dramatic and immediate benefits for themselves.

MrSchnapps:
I've learned a little something about shaking up the worldviews of others. You have to immediately throw them a life raft. You can't just take away their life raft and leave them with nothing; they'll drown in the open sea. I realize it's a limiting analogy, but shattering worldviews is a psychological art. It's a skill--like any other--to be learned.
Really? I've experienced just the opposite. People will ask "so whats your alternative" in the hopes that they can start attacking YOU and get off the hook. "Oh yeah anarchism that's so stupid its like chaos that will never work". I've actually started calling myself a political nihilist just so people can't pull that trick. Keep the focus on them and really rub dirt in the wound.

MrSchnapps:
They tend to be more interested when it hits home, e.g. when they lose their house, or as listed above, their grandma's adult diaper is searched. I've seen this personally happen. The burning passion hits when they enter crisis mode, and their world is shaken up by personal experience.
But then there are all the cases where prescription drugs kills a family member, and nobody says squat about it. I don't think people really change their worldviews on the basis of their misfortunes. See minorities and the democratic party, or soldiers who get shot/wounded/PTSD and the military.

MrSchnapps:
Otherwise, for us more inquisitive types, the process of questioning our prejudices and trying to reason things out is just a normal thing. That's why we find everyone else so strange--because they don't appear to have this natural drive that we have. They need serious incentives; We don't.
I really don't expect other people to be inquisitive. I just expect them to not sit there and lie to my face, especially when I'm gonna call them on it and expose them to everyone (and themselves).

 

 

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Aug 22 2011 6:54 AM

John James:
Again, as I said, exactly like what has been discussed throughout this thread.  And how exactly could one have an ego without other beings to feel superior to?  Again, as I said only a few posts ago, you maximize your ego by doing whatever makes you feel superior at that moment.  Other people don't necessarily have to be affected.  It's about how you feel.

All I'm pointing out is that, at least for many people, it's also about how they think others feel about them. Look at it this way: if one enjoys feeling superior to others, he'll enjoy it even more when those others feel the same way (i.e. they also consider him superior to them).

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Aug 22 2011 7:00 AM

Sieben, I think maybe you underestimate the importance of social standing to many (if not most) people - especially those who have low self-esteem. Unfortunately, low self-esteem seems to be hyper-epidemic among people today.

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Autolykos:
All I'm pointing out is that, at least for many people, it's also about how they think others feel about them. Look at it this way: if one enjoys feeling superior to others, he'll enjoy it even more when those others feel the same way (i.e. they also consider him superior to them).

Again you're missing the point, even though you even said it yourself.  How other people actually feel is irrelevant.  The only thing that matters is how the person in question feels.  And if that is in some way dependent upon the feelings of other people, then it only matters how the person in question thinks they feel (just like you said).  It's all about his own perception.  Just like the example I gave above...Just because you may view an obnoxious kid acting out in class as a useless annoying brat, that doesn't mean he thinks of it that way.  He could either think you think he's cool for being a rebel, or he could get the boost from believing he affected you.  Again, it's all about him.

My point to you is, you claim "he feels dependent on others to boost his ego", and what I'm saying is, there's never a case where that's not true in one way or another...as, without some other being to feel superior to, where would the ego come from?  Every egotist is dependent on others to boost their ego.

 

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Sieben replied on Mon, Aug 22 2011 7:20 AM

John James:
Well, for one thing, again, we're talking about idiots.  But more importantly, I'm still not seeing the direct link between the harm and the beliefs that is (apparently) so easily seen.  Could you give some examples please?  How are these people you are talking about directly and essentially immediately harmed by saying or believing the things they do?
They're not harmed immediately or every time. But they're harmed when it blows up on them - either someone calls them on their BS, or their BS degrades their lifestyle. The harm doesn't have to be immediate either. People don't always get pulled over for not wearing seatbelts but they still do it. People don't get blown up by terrorists every day but they are still down with TSA scanners and the WOT.

John James:
The truth is the "harm" far removed from the individual, by causal lineage (or lack thereof) as well as time.  It's just like the broken window.  You see the glazer.  No one sees the lack of a suit.  The harm is much more decentralized and indirect...and spread over time.  And even if someone is fortunate enough to eventually have some sense knocked into him over countless episodes of trial and error, odds are he's already spent his life doing the damage...and there are 5 more idiots already there who have taken his place.
Well they all talk to each other. Its not like they're independent. And the harm from underestimating drugs/nutrition is not decentralized, and the marginal harm is not spread over very much time.

John James:
Huh?  Who the hell suggested it did?
Well in politics it doesn't. That's why you can explain people's reluctance to take political action. But in other areas, particularly your own life, your opinion makes a difference.

John James:
You're arguing that people who are too stupid to know what they're talking about yet are dumb enough to act as though they do are somehow an anomoly, because apparently even though they're idiots they should recognize the "risk" involved in doing idiotic things like talking out of their ass.
You don't have to understand electricity to know not to stick a fork in a socket. Someone's done it before and its failed. They all know that.

John James:
I'm arguing that people have no problem holding (and touting) idiotic beliefs because they see no direct (and certainly no immediate) negative consequence to doing so, but they gain an immediate sense of satisfaction from purporting to know more than other people.
On immediacy, its already been established that time preference has nothing to do with it. As for the satisfaction, yes they must gain something from holding the hasty-opinion, because obviously there are negative consequences to many of the opinions people hold.

A better conversation to have with people might be why they feel confident in their opinions in the first place. When people troll me on nutrition I'm like "controlled studies?", "no", "Oh. See those are nice...".

John James:
Are you sure that's what you meant to say?  I would argue that people have every incentive to oppose policies that target them directly.  By definition if it targest them directly, they are directly affected...hence creating an incentive.  Now if that was a mistake and you meant to say "no incentive to oppose policies that don't target them directly", then yeah.  That's a large part of my point.  You're basicaly agreeing with me.  And I don't understand how optimism has anything to do with anything here.
No. I wrote what I meant. People have no incentive (read: cost vs benefit) to oppose policies that affect them. Simply because the repeal of the policy would have a very substantial benefit to them does not mean the costs are any lower. I'm sure we all agree that influencing the state is completely hopeless on an individual level, no matter how badly it is pushing you around.

John James:
Again, could you please give some everyday examples of this please?  And no, I don't mean the gravitational repurcussions of holding the incorrect viewpoint that you can fly...I'm talking about what are these consequences that can be seen in the immediate short term from the exact kinds of things we are talking about...holding moronic views about economics, politics...the everyday things you brought up.  How are these people you are talking about directly and essentially immediately harmed by saying or believing the things they do?
Well politics and economics are special cases in that they are the only ones where the risk associated with having them is a function SOLELY of their (lack of) logical content - i.e. they might be called on their crap sometime. But if you wanted to stretch it, being ignorant of those subjects means you're a crappier investor (like gold/silver recently), so you forego those monetary benefits.

Then there's the other examples I gave you of nutrition/drugs/religion that could really help a lot of people in a matter of hours if they stopped with the garbage.

John James:
My point was to illustrate that time in fact is a factor in what matters to people and how willing they are to care about the falsity of their beliefs.  Again, you immidiately feel the effects of the false belief that you can fly.  I guarantee if the effects of poor nutritional habits (or good ones) were that immediate, people would be much more willing to listen to (and accept) the truth about those subjects...as opposed to so doggedly holding to their incorrect beliefs.  My point is it is much easier to cling to false beliefs when the negative consequences of holding such beliefs are not immediately felt.  And the effects of having poor nutritional habits are one such thing.  You don't become a 350 lb. pig after two weeks of eating poorly and not exercising.  It's a gradual process.  Like creeping moss.  Or cooking a frog.
Again, I am thinking on the margin. Just because people slowly degrade does not mean they can't quickly recover. If you accept that 250lb of weight loss in 2 days is possible, then yes, I'd say that holding irrational opinions about nutrition is almost immediately harmful.

John James:
Bingo.  And the fact that you can argue that that makes absolutely no difference baffles me.
Because the margin.

John James:
What does that have to do with the people we're talking about?  People do illogical and risky things all the time.  Simply saying why someone shouldn't do something doesn't discount any reasoning as to why they actually did it.  That's like observing someone marking a wrong answer on a test and exclaiming "that's illogical that someone would mark the wrong answer, because obviously giving the right answer would lead to a better outcome on the test, and marking wrong answers is risky because it's possible the person would receive a bad grade, and that could be embarrassing."
Well you have to factor in the cost of acquiring knowledge and the benefit of its employment. But yeah it would be wierd if people took tests and decided the answer based on what "felt the best", and then flunked out of college months later because they got crappy grades.

John James:
You're assuming the person knows the right answer
No. I am assuming the person does not wholesale rule out the possibility that they have the wrong answer. If you have to have an opinion for some reason (example - nutrition - you have to eat), fine. But that doesn't mean you have to be uber confident in your answer.

John James:
You're assuming the person cares about marking the right answer
An assumption that varies from implausible (politics) to very plausible (nutrition).

John James:
You're assuming the person cares about getting a good grade
You mean getting the right outcome? Again, it varies.

John James:
You're assuming the person would feel embarrassment from getting a bad grade.
Uhh this falls under "outcome". It is not a distinct point. Being embarassed is a consequence of having incorrect opinions, just as there are other consequences depending on the idea and context in question.

John James:
Getting beaten to a pulp is a lot more painful and lasting than simply being shown to be incompetent.
They're not going to get beat up. Mohd. Ali is dead, and even if he weren't there's no way he would fight laymen just to prove them wrong. So there's no physical cost to saying you could beat him up.

John James:
And it's also something you literally have no control over.  Embarrassment is a state of mind.  You can't embarrass someone who doesn't think he's been shown up...just like you can't embarrass someone who doesn't know any better or doesn't care.
I'm pretty sure fat people would be embarassed if I told them they were fat because they held incorrect views about nutrition. It just doesn't happen to them because its exceedingly "rude" for me to do that.

John James:
When was the last time you saw an embarrassed infant?  I drove passed a hobo standing on the side of the freeway urinating toward the cars as they passed by.  He looked like he had just crawled out of a sewer and had a very small penis.  He did not seem the least bit embarrassed.
In all fairness, most people are not hobos. Most people would be embarrassed to urinate in public.

John James:
And your argument is that idiots should either be able to predict that they will be shown up or learn that they will be shown up through experience...and therefore they would be averse to touting idiotic beliefs.
I deny that they're idiots. We're talking about the average person. We're talking about people who have an IQ of 125 too. 150. The whole gamut. "Idiocy" does not explain it.

John James:
1) Do the people you show to be ignorant seem to be deeply affected after you've done so?  On the same level as they might, say, after getting punched in the face by a professional boxer?
If I do it right and get lucky, then yes. I mean it doesn't hurt their face but I've embarrassed people in public before and its been really bad for them. So yeah people's BS can blow up in their faces. But people's BS blows up in their faces even if I'm not there because it ruins their lives on the daily personal topics I've been mentioning.

John James:
2) Comparatively speaking...exactly how often do you think these people come across someone educated, informed, and interested enough to show them to be full of crap?  Do you think that happens more often than they get away with it?
Well, people still spout garbage on college campuses, the place where there's MOST likely to be some highly informed and aggressive opponent to your BS.

John James:
Or is it more than likely the case that they actually get shown to be ignorant such a small percentage of the time that statistically it's completely worth it to pretend to know what their talking about because the payoff they get from feeling superior to others outshines the odds that they'll get put in their place?
Whether or not I call them on it doesn't mean they automatically get away with it. You don't "get away" with having bad nutrition. You get fat.

 

 

 

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Sieben replied on Mon, Aug 22 2011 7:26 AM

Autolykos:
Sieben, I think maybe you underestimate the importance of social standing to many (if not most) people - especially those who have low self-esteem. Unfortunately, low self-esteem seems to be hyper-epidemic among people today.
In another conversation, we are gravitating towards the "private circle jerk" theory of irrationality. People hold irrational opinions about things that bring them together. For example, hatred of democrats, terrorists, skinny people, drug users, etc. That's why people don't hold irrational opinions about being able to beat up Mohd Ali even though it would boost their ego individually. They sit around and suck each other off AGAINST another group. And they do it behind closed doors (mostly) so that they don't have to bear the antisocial costs of marginalizing another group.

When people do speak out and defend their ideas in public, it is an anomoly. The person who holds irrational views and defends them publicly against erudites is in a state of cognitive dissonance. He's naive and hasn't figured out that the circle jerk is a circle jerk. Everyone else has figured this out though which is why people are so reluctant to have arguments in public. They'll bail out with "that's just your opinion" or try to shut down conversation with "You're racist".

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"Yet there's no reason to tell us about it in this thread unless he wants to affect us in a certain way by it. Were he only concerned with his own ego, he'd just laugh his ass off and keep it to himself.

I'll jump the gun a bit and submit that the reason Birthday Pony deigned to inform us of his raucous laughter is to obtain or maintain greater social standing on his part. Birthday Pony, like most people, intuitively understands that social standing involves both oneself and others. That is, it seems useless to have an opinion of oneself that isn't shared by those around him. Hence why these sorts of games are played - in order to cultivate a certain perception of oneself by his fellows.

Edit: I just realized that, in a way, you're right - it's still all about his own ego. It's just that he feels dependent on others to boost it."

It's lovely how much thought and attention ya'll pay to my behavior. You really do care! And I thought you guys didn't like me.

In all honesty, it just cracks me up that apparently you all are coming across so many people that don't understand what you're arguing when you hold pretty uncommon beliefs, and your explanation for it is that there is a major psychological phenomenon barring these loudmouths from understanding you. I mean, for chrissake, the rest of the world probably views every single one of us here like that.

And since we're talking about egos, which one seems like more of an egoistic statement to make:

Maybe I'm wrong, or my beliefs are uncommon and hard to grasp right away.

I'm right and everyone who disagrees with me has a psychological problem.

Everyone thinks that most of what they say is right, otherwise why would they say it? People disagree on things all the time, and some people loudly disagree. It's just funny that here disagreement becomes a psychological phenomenon. But shit, what do I know? I'm one of those psychologically inept folks, always bitching about being poor. And I own a fridge.

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Aug 23 2011 5:56 PM

Birthday Pony, is the shape of the earth a matter of agreement?

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So problem is "majority rules"/the system, not incompetence in itself?

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Neodoxy replied on Wed, Aug 24 2011 2:19 PM

What you're talking about is something that I feel as though would be very difficult to actually go out and research outside of a direct psychological study. With this being said I think that it's the direct outcome of mimicking other people. It's widely accepted that you can have your own political opinion, you have your own rudimentary values about how it is the world works, and so you should be entitled to have your own judgment.

Therefore you are then ignorant and you think that you have a right to voice your own opinion, people are classically all too ready to believe that they know what exactly is wrong with the world and how exactly it should be fixed, and so they do this, and when anyone tries to correct them they strike back violently because they don't want to be wrong. It's literally childish.

So anyway I just believe it’s that it's accepted in society and common in society to have these views. There's also a general attitude of "it's your opinion" not an attitude of "listen to what other people have to say and don't have a stupid opinion"

The other day I was arguing with a Marxist and a libertarian socialist at the same time. The Marxist fell into the same fallacies as his predecessors, he was unable to conceive of a socialist society that didn't fit to the letter his vision of one, he was literally a utopian in that he thought he knew exactly how society would evolve and that apparently a huge amount of ignorance and problems would go away with the establishment of the socialist state, he also couldn't imagine that all states of society were not directly caused by class struggles, especially recently he wanted to believe that every development was because of some ultra-organized bourgeoisie that was exempt from any control by governments or economic laws.

When I tried to correct him on this stuff he either didn't deal with what I said or started to call it retarded, he never took what I had to say seriously.

As for the libertarian socialist I gave up on him almost instantly because he clung to the fallacy that trade was a 0 sum game and kept harping on about how all balance sheets came out to 0.

Being wrong is scary, humiliating, and demeaning, and no one, not even most of the people here, is ready to be logically proven incorrect.

I think that the problem also originates in that people don't construct a general methodology of how they should think and absorb political ideas, instead they simply go ahead with some "evidence". I have argued with many people who have never cited any evidence that actually backs what it is that they are saying, and those that do are unable to explain to me the epistemology behind empirical evidence in a social context.

For this reason people think that it's fine to have taken some history lessons in highschool or college and then they will know all that there is to know about economics, sociology, morality, and so on, they don't realize that history can say nothing about economics, only economics that can say something about history, or that any of the other sciences might be deeper than what they realize.

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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Sieben:
They're not harmed immediately or every time. But they're harmed when it blows up on them - either someone calls them on their BS, or their BS degrades their lifestyle. The harm doesn't have to be immediate either. People don't always get pulled over for not wearing seatbelts but they still do it. People don't get blown up by terrorists every day but they are still down with TSA scanners and the WOT.

You're making my point for me.  How long does it take before your BS "degrades your lifestyle"?  And do you seriously think that by the time that happens to someone they can make a direct connection to their idiotic behavior and their current situation?  Even moderately intelligent people don't even see that half the time.

And how does the fact that people wear seatbelts and suffer through TSA gropings do anything to help your case idiotic people should know better than to spout nonsense for fear of being embarassed?  Again you're making my point for me.  For one, we're talking about idiots, but two, did I not just get through proving to you that the direct and immediate possiblity of physical harm is much more motivating than the remote possiblity of simply being shown to be ignorant?  You're just reanimating the same analogy.

 

Well they all talk to each other. Its not like they're independent. And the harm from underestimating drugs/nutrition is not decentralized, and the marginal harm is not spread over very much time.

You're going to have to be more specific.  This almost makes no sense at all.

 

John James:
Huh?  Who the hell suggested it did?
Well in politics it doesn't. That's why you can explain people's reluctance to take political action. But in other areas, particularly your own life, your opinion makes a difference.

So let me get this straight.  You say "Changing your opinion doesn't actually change what happens".  I say "who suggested otherwise?"  And then you reply by suggesting that what you just said is wrong.

 

You don't have to understand electricity to know not to stick a fork in a socket. Someone's done it before and its failed. They all know that.

Mmmm.  Fork in socket, immediate electric shock.  Kind of like believing you can fly, and having reality literally slammed in your face.  Action, and then immediate, painful, impactful, easily directly correlated, unignorable consequence.  You're really making this too easy.  Are you sure you're even trying to debate me or is this just an agree-athon?

 

Sieben:
John James:
I'm arguing that people have no problem holding (and touting) idiotic beliefs because they see no direct (and certainly no immediate) negative consequence to doing so, but they gain an immediate sense of satisfaction from purporting to know more than other people.
On immediacy, its already been established that time preference has nothing to do with it.

Please show me where.  The only thing I've seen is you claiming that is the case, and then presenting examples that illustrate the exact opposite.  Case in point, directly above.

 

No. I wrote what I meant. People have no incentive (read: cost vs benefit) to oppose policies that affect them. Simply because the repeal of the policy would have a very substantial benefit to them does not mean the costs are any lower. I'm sure we all agree that influencing the state is completely hopeless on an individual level, no matter how badly it is pushing you around.

Okay, so people have "no incentive to oppose policies that target them directly", and I therefore assume they don't have any incentive to oppose policies that don't target them either.  So basically what you're saying is people have no incentive to do anything but do what they're told.  I can provide you a million and one examples that prove that to be completely and utterly false.

 

Well politics and economics are special cases in that they are the only ones where the risk associated with having them is a function SOLELY of their (lack of) logical content - i.e. they might be called on their crap sometime.

Yeah you've said that at least four times already.  So basically, what you're saying is, there really isn't any.

 

Again, I am thinking on the margin. Just because people slowly degrade does not mean they can't quickly recover. If you accept that 250lb of weight loss in 2 days is possible, then yes, I'd say that holding irrational opinions about nutrition is almost immediately harmful.

That makes little sense.  If you're going to argue that simply remaining the same is a "direct, immediate, and easily correlated harmful consequence" of not doing something, then you might as well just say that everyone is in a perpetual state of self harm.

 

Sieben:
Because the margin.

What about it?

 

Well you have to factor in the cost of acquiring knowledge and the benefit of its employment. But yeah it would be wierd if people took tests and decided the answer based on what "felt the best", and then flunked out of college months later because they got crappy grades.

Huh?

 

No. I am assuming the person does not wholesale rule out the possibility that they have the wrong answer. If you have to have an opinion for some reason (example - nutrition - you have to eat), fine. But that doesn't mean you have to be uber confident in your answer.

An assumption that varies from implausible (politics) to very plausible (nutrition).

You mean getting the right outcome? Again, it varies.

Uhh this falls under "outcome". It is not a distinct point. Being embarassed is a consequence of having incorrect opinions, just as there are other consequences depending on the idea and context in question.

This really basically supports my whole point, and certainly does nothing to help yours.  Every time you move the goal posts it just illustrates the validity of my argument.  You have to keep coming up with exceptions and explanations as to why what I'm saying is true so that you can fit it into your thesis, which I'm not even sure you know what it is any more.

 

They're not going to get beat up. Mohd. Ali is dead, and even if he weren't there's no way he would fight laymen just to prove them wrong. So there's no physical cost to saying you could beat him up.

I didn't realize you were speaking in non-hypothetical terms.  In that case your example doesn't even make sense.  You literally said: "If they can't figure that out in advance analytically, they'll figure it out by trial and error. Its like people don't think they could beat up Mohd. Ali even if it would boost their machismo"

Originally it sounded like you were saying people would be dumb enough to think they could beat Ali and then find out the hard way through trial and error...but now re-reading that I notice you said "people don't think they could be up Ali".  So not only does your response here not make any sense, that second sentence doesn't even make sense as an example.

 

Sieben:
I'm pretty sure fat people would be embarassed if I told them they were fat because they held incorrect views about nutrition. It just doesn't happen to them because its exceedingly "rude" for me to do that.

In all fairness, most people are not hobos. Most people would be embarrassed to urinate in public.

This does nothing to refute my point.

 

I deny that they're idiots. We're talking about the average person. We're talking about people who have an IQ of 125 too. 150. The whole gamut. "Idiocy" does not explain it.

Idiocy was only secondary.  Again my main point still remains.  People have no problem holding (and touting) idiotic beliefs because they see no direct (and certainly no immediate) negative consequence to doing so, but they gain an immediate sense of satisfaction from purporting to know more than other people.

 

Sieben:
John James:
1) Do the people you show to be ignorant seem to be deeply affected after you've done so?  On the same level as they might, say, after getting punched in the face by a professional boxer?
If I do it right and get lucky, then yes.

Again, illustrating my point.

 

Well, people still spout garbage on college campuses, the place where there's MOST likely to be some highly informed and aggressive opponent to your BS.

Again, what are the odds?

 

Whether or not I call them on it doesn't mean they automatically get away with it. You don't "get away" with having bad nutrition. You get fat.

Another nice goal post move.  This whole part of the conversation has been about holding ignorant beliefs regarding economics and politics and the consequences (or lack thereof) that stem from that, and your entire argument (put forth multiple times) is that the risk they take in doing so is being called out on being ignorant.  I ask how likely that is to actually happen and imply that they don't often get called on it and therefore don't see any negative consequence, and you jump right over back to talking about nutrition.

 

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Sieben replied on Thu, Sep 1 2011 2:57 PM

John James:
You're making my point for me.  How long does it take before your BS "degrades your lifestyle"?  And do you seriously think that by the time that happens to someone they can make a direct connection to their idiotic behavior and their current situation?  Even moderately intelligent people don't even see that half the time.
  BS degrades your lifestyle on the timescale of hours or even minutes. You have totally ignored all my short term examples. At this point you are just talking past me and declaring victory. Good job.

And how does the fact that people wear seatbelts and suffer through TSA gropings do anything to help your case idiotic people should know better than to spout nonsense for fear of being embarassed?  Again you're making my point for me.  For one, we're talking about idiots, but two, did I not just get through proving to you that the direct and immediate possiblity of physical harm is much more motivating than the remote possiblity of simply being shown to be ignorant?  You're just reanimating the same analogy.

For one, no. We're talking about average people with average intelligence levels. We're also talking about otherwise intelligent people who fail to employ it properly for some reason. Second, the "remote possibility of demonstrated ignorance" is only ONE of the downsides of being incompetent. You are just focusing on it because you think you can blow it out of proportion and win because you think its somehow categorically different from other forms of harm. You're wrong on both counts.

The fact that people support TSA, including people who suffer through it, rationalize it, shows that people will ACCEPT SHORT TERM HARMS as long as they get to keep their ideas in tact. So TIME is not an issue here, and PHYSCIAL HARM is not an issue here. It is more GENERAL than that and TSA is only an example.

You're going to have to be more specific.  This almost makes no sense at all.
People talk to each other. Therefore they do not form their opinions in an existential vacuum. I.e. they can participate in division of labor AND bounce ideas off each other. Conversely, the harm from underestimating drugs and nutrition is concentrated on the ignorant individual. So people have a very strong private and individual reason not to be incorrect about these topics.

So let me get this straight.  You say "Changing your opinion doesn't actually change what happens".  I say "who suggested otherwise?"  And then you reply by suggesting that what you just said is wrong.
Maybe you should read. See I said in POLITICS changing your opinion does not change what happens. This makes politics a poor discussion topic for us because it is very low-impact, and that low-impact can theoretically explain people's unseriousness. But if you turn around and look at people making EQUALLY poor decisions in HIGH IMPACT areas, like drugs/nutrition/career choices, then impact-magnitude is no longer explanatory and we have to look to something else.

Mmmm.  Fork in socket, immediate electric shock.  Kind of like believing you can fly, and having reality literally slammed in your face.  Action, and then immediate, painful, impactful, easily directly correlated, unignorable consequence.  You're really making this too easy.  Are you sure you're even trying to debate me or is this just an agree-athon?
Zzzzzzzzz thanks for ignoring all the other immediate marginally harmful things people do. I mean if you're not going to address my examples why even type back? Just to save face? Cognitive dissonance much?

Please show me where.  The only thing I've seen is you claiming that is the case, and then presenting examples that illustrate the exact opposite.  Case in point, directly above.
Maybe you should look at how >> I << use examples instead of projecting your own agenda on to them. The fork+socket thing is complicating because there are other fork+socket scenarios (mentioned above, never addressed by you) that people hold irrational beliefs about. It shows how sometimes feedback mechanisms work, and sometimes they don't. And don't you dare point out that fork+socket = immediate because, again, ad naeseum, there are counterexamples showing that you get (ir)rationaliy irrespective of the time frame.

Okay, so people have "no incentive to oppose policies that target them directly", and I therefore assume they don't have any incentive to oppose policies that don't target them either.  So basically what you're saying is people have no incentive to do anything but do what they're told.  I can provide you a million and one examples that prove that to be completely and utterly false.
Holy christ. There is no incentive to oppose horribly harmful government policies because YOUR OPPOSITION WILL NOT CHANGE THE OUTCOME. There WOULD be an incentive to oppose them if you could... I dunno... press a button to make the policy go away. But there isn't. This situation demonstrates that people not only need to be harmed, but they need to have a means of changing their circumstances before they can be expected to act. (I am getting tired of summarizing everything for you)

Yeah you've said that at least four times already.  So basically, what you're saying is, there really isn't any.
There isn't really any what? I am totally fine with not talking about politics or pure-ideas anymore. You're simply using them to cop out of all the high-impact examples I've given.

That makes little sense.  If you're going to argue that simply remaining the same is a "direct, immediate, and easily correlated harmful consequence" of not doing something, then you might as well just say that everyone is in a perpetual state of self harm.
I do. So do economists. Its called thinking on the MARGIN. You should know this by now.

What about it?
Maybe you should look up "thinking on the margin" or "marginal benefit" or something.

Huh?
Just extend it as an example of how feedback mechanisms that AREN'T immediate or physical actually change people's behaviour. Lol.

This really basically supports my whole point, and certainly does nothing to help yours.  Every time you move the goal posts it just illustrates the validity of my argument.  You have to keep coming up with exceptions and explanations as to why what I'm saying is true so that you can fit it into your thesis, which I'm not even sure you know what it is any more.
The "exceptions" and "explanations" are attempts to show you that you can't plug people's behaviour into your little simplified "people are stupid and only understand immediate physical consequences" model.

Originally it sounded like you were saying people would be dumb enough to think they could beat Ali and then find out the hard way through trial and error...but now re-reading that I notice you said "people don't think they could be up Ali".  So not only does your response here not make any sense, that second sentence doesn't even make sense as an example.
Again, your projecting your own conceptual agenda on my examples. The Mohd. Ali example demonstrates that people do not go out of their way to maximize their egos by making irrational claims. If you cannot understand this, I cannot help you.

This does nothing to refute my point.
Thx4projection.

Idiocy was only secondary.  Again my main point still remains.  People have no problem holding (and touting) idiotic beliefs because they see no direct (and certainly no immediate) negative consequence to doing so, but they gain an immediate sense of satisfaction from purporting to know more than other people.
Which is falsified DIRECTLY by the Mohd Ali example, and INDIRECTLY by the fact that idiotic beliefs often do have extreme immediate consequences. You have never addressed either, but I'm sure you will find a way to maneuver around them, even if it is just by saying "Huh?"

Again, illustrating my point.
Actually, it illustrates my point. I can cause people immediate harm if I deconstruct their arguments adeptly. Yet people still hold irrational views, and even hold them right in my face even if they know I'm going to smack them down. Its masochistic.

Again, what are the odds?
Quite high. Much higher in the above example. You really have never been critisized for being a libertarian?

Another nice goal post move.  This whole part of the conversation has been about holding ignorant beliefs regarding economics and politics and the consequences (or lack thereof) that stem from that, and your entire argument (put forth multiple times) is that the risk they take in doing so is being called out on being ignorant.  I ask how likely that is to actually happen and imply that they don't often get called on it and therefore don't see any negative consequence, and you jump right over back to talking about nutrition.
Actually it is not specific to economics or politics. Those are simply the most VISIBLE ones that people on the mises.org forums complain about. My whole thesis has been that this kind of irrationality actually extends onto a whole smattering of subject areas, including ones that directly impact people's individual quality of life.

Being called or not called on it is peripheral. It is specific only to ideas that are purely logical. Ideas with practical content do not need to be publicly debunked in order to cause harm to the believer. So you can stop talking about this narrow subset and maybe deal with the general observation. I'm not shifting the goalposts just because I remind you that you're only talking about one iota of the topic.

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