agreement and Bayesianity

From: Michael Vassar (
Date: Thu Aug 04 2005 - 13:21:49 MDT

It was once asserted here that if everyone were to simply accept expert
consensus their aggregate Bayesianity score would increase. I'm not sure
this is true. Surely if they accepted expert opinion with 100% certainty it
would fall. How should they choose the certainty with which to accept
expert opinion. Likewise, how should they choose experts? Dennis would say
"take me as the expert" or "chose as experts those who I tell you to", but
that's not the advice I'd give Al Quaida.
It seems to me that people's implicity acceptance of someone's claims to
expertise are reflected in the degree to which they believe that person, and
more so in the degree to which they obey that person when convinced that
their interests are aligned. That is part of why, for instance, doctors
have so much difficulty convincing people to use preventative medicine. The
doctors complain and blame the patients, but the patients rightly believe,
in the pseudo-Bayesian sense of "belief that dictates action", that the
advice of doctors is neither as well aligned with theirs nor as well
calibrated with respect to preventative medicine as it is with respect to
treatments which provide the doctor with immediate feedback.
Of course, higher IQ patients *are* more likely to use preventative
measures, so in so far as IQ corresponds to rational utility maximizing
behavior with moderated (though strong) Heuristics and Biases effects, (as
argued by Brian Caplan, search here
the strength of my argument is weakened. Much neglect of preventative
medicine is surely reflected in Heuristics and Biases behavior.

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