Re: How You Do Not Tell the Truth

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Sat May 05 2001 - 08:48:50 MDT wrote:

> I take it, Robin, that you criticize the legal system for failing to seek
> truths about the *material facts* that give rise to legal disputes. ...
> adversarial parties *do* see themselves as participating in a process
> designed to uncover truth--to wit, truth about the law.

My criticism, and our discussion of disagreement, applies to *all*
facts, at all levels of abstraction or aggregation, physical, legal, moral,
or otherwise.

> But I would emphasize that no mere aesthetic objection to *individuals*
> deliberately exagerrating their version of the truth should serve to
> discredit an *institution* designed to, ... uncover truth. ...

I agree. But I still think that exaggeration is a sign of failing to find truth.

> >I think this is just not true. Ordinary people disagree on just about
> >everything, e.g., household chores, who likes who, what foods are healthy.
> >They disagree especially on just about any question of individual ability.
> >People consistently think themselves more able than others think them,
> >in cooking, driving, kissing, you name it.
> That, too, is an empirical claim. I can only say that I know of no
> scientific study on the issue--and that my personal experience seems to vary
> widely from yours. Call me a laid-back Californian, but I just don't spend
> much time around the house or office arguing with people!

Arguing or debating is different from disagreeing. Ask everyone in your office
to rank themselves and each other at being a driver, lover, lawyer, whatever.
I can pretty much guarentee you will find each person tends to rate him/herself
above median. You can show all these rankings to everyone and then ask them
to revise them and the same bias will show up. You guys might not spend much
time talking about this, but I think you all know that you disagree about these

Btw, I am presently working on an experiment to very clearly show disagreement
is ubiquitous. (Too bad most of you guys aren't in my area to come be subjects.)

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