Re: How You Do Not Tell the Truth

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Sat May 05 2001 - 08:49:18 MDT wrote:

> Robin writes:
> > We note that a list of assumptions, taken together, imply a conclusion
> > at odds with observation. We do not take sides regarding which assumption
> > exactly is at fault.
> I'm surprised you say that; your paper seems to come down pretty hard
> against the assumption that people seek the truth, in the title and
> in most of the last part.

OK, yes, we do take a position on that point.

> I've been reading some of the papers in your references, and the way
> I see it now is that there is a process which must occur in order for
> everyone to be mutually informed about each other's beliefs.

Happy to see you reading on this. Most of the literature does deal with
some stable end of a conversation, but one paper does not. See:

"Disagreement is unpredictable" or .ps

> When I was asking about disagreement above, I was talking about the
> initial stage in this process, when you first discover that you have
> different posterior beliefs. What is the best approach to resolve
> the dispute? The methods I have seen so far (as in the paper above)
> are quite impractical for human beings to apply IMO as they seem to
> require excessively detailed knowledge about the state of the world.

Practice rational reasoning involves lots of error-prone reasoning
disciplined by meta-processes that look for and correct for systematic
biases. talks more about this.
Psychologists have studied this a lot. See "Metacognition" and the
"flexible correction model". If you find that your disagreement is
predictable, I think you should think of that as having uncovered a
systematic bias to correct for. In general, you just more your beliefs
in the opposite direction from the bias you perceive.

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