Re: The Conjunction Fallacy Fallacy [WAS Re: Anti-singularity spam.]

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Wed May 03 2006 - 16:47:34 MDT

Damien Broderick wrote:
> Not sure if you mean it inaccurately predicts human cognition, or it
> correctly predicts logically erroneous human cognition. My point, and I
> think Richard's, is that such artificial and contrived challenges, while
> of course valid in their own terms, miss the complexity and everyday
> utility of extrapolating from exemplars, especially when an abundance of
> apparently salient information is available. "Q: Give the foregoing
> information, is Esmeralda a living human, or is she on the planet Earth,
> or is she a [living human] deeply politically concerned feminist [on the
> planet Earth]?" "A: If not the latter, why the hell did you just
> front-load me with all that misleading priming information? Have you
> never heard of conversational implicature, you twisty weasel?"

     Consider a regular six-sided die with four green faces and two red
faces. The die will be rolled 20 times and the sequence of greens (G)
and reds (R) will be recorded. You are asked to select one sequence,
from a set of three, and you will win $25 if the sequence you chose
appears on successive rolls of the die. Please check the sequence of
greens and reds on which you prefer to bet.

     1. RGRRR
     2. GRGRRR
     3. GRRRRR


Obviously, 65% of the undergraduates in this study, betting real money,
chose to bet on (2) over (1) because of conversational implicature
prototyping ecological triggering mechanisms. I'm sure they wouldn't
have made the same mistake if only the instructions had been written in
blue ink.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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