Re: Confidence: A Basic Politics Puzzle

The Low Golden Willow (
Tue, 18 Feb 1997 18:51:56 -0800 (PST)

On Feb 18, 4:52pm, Robin Hanson wrote:

} Calm vs. excitement is not the same as caution vs. confidence. Why
} should being excited make you feel confident? Any why would/does
} confidence help you win arguments?

Do you want reasons for a rational person to be confident when excited,
or evolutionary reasons why people would act that way? If you seem
confident your opponent may decide you know what you're talking about
and back down, to avoid explicitly losing and showing their ignorance.[1]
The more important something is the more you want to feel confident to
win. The more important something is, the more excited and worried you
will be about winning it.

So when arguing over the rights of gov't we get excited because the
issue affects our lives so greatly, and confident to make the other
person back down.

Cars and planes aren't so pervasive as gov't.

Maybe you'll like this one better: the existence of expertise in social
issues is harder to see. Or: people are so ignorant about these issues
they don't know how ignorant they are, and don't perceive any obvious
effects of alleged expertise in these areas (an auto mechanic obviously
fixes your car, but what unambiguous results have economists publicly

As for the specific field of amateur libertarian philosophers, perhaps intro
economics courses present free market theory as a simple and tidy
whole, with some mention of complications (axioms, monopolistic
competition) but too weak emphasis. So people come away feeling they
know The Answers. At the moment I'm learning more about law and
economics and becoming less confident. I only learned of the Coase
theorem a few days ago (and have seen it mentioned twice since, ack) and
blight me if I know what the full implications of it are.

What's fun is trying to argue the possibility of anarchy with opponents
who don't know anything more than intro econ themselves, and thing that
is what I'm arguing from. Actually those arguments really depend on
intuition -- theirs says anarchy is a silly idea, which is a natural
feeling to have from existing in society; mine is influenced by the
iterated Prisoner's Dilemma, natural selection, simulated annealing,
neural networks, anthills, and market theory, after all of which I find
it more possible to believe there might be some stable human anarchy.
They don't have this intuition. Progress is difficult.

[1] If economists have to convinced that people don't like losing face,
I quit. I think that's a basic observation.

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

Antisocial arrogance is only for those of us who deserve it.