Re: Opinions as Evidence

Robin Hanson (
Thu, 27 Mar 1997 16:19:54 -0800 (PST)

I responded to Curt Adams:
> Anyway, we have moved away from your claim that you can easily
> generate examples to demonstrate the ubiquity of "opinion divergence
> on matters of fact, where each side knows of the other's opinion".

To which Michael Lorrey responded:
>Try these:
>JFK assasination
>Roswell Incident
>MLK assasination
>Why we "lost" Vietnam
>The abortion controversy
>The Philadelphia Experiment
>The Holocaust
>the Rosenberg Trial
>the Alger Hiss trial
>Contragate (esp. Ollie North)
>the Big Bang
>the Second Amendment
>any questions?

Yes. We need more detail about these to evaluate their relevance.
Specifically, we need to see that:
1. There are (at least) two communities, each aware of the other's views.
2. These views are relatively stable and substantial different.
3. These views reflect actual beliefs, not just verbal posturing.
4. The dispute has lasted long enough so both sides know that
both sides know that both sides know (etc.) ... that they disagree.
5. Both sides see the issue as a dispute over fact, not values, and
believe that the other side does as well.
6. We can't easily dismiss one group as small and primarily composed of
people who are much more "cognitively broken" than most.
7. We can't easily dismiss the type of issue as exceptional in
inducing "broken cognition" even in ordinary people.
This is the sort of example needed to suggest that ordinary people in
ordinary contexts often have persistent disagreements contrary to
Bayesian expectations.