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

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Wed May 03 2006 - 17:55:47 MDT

At 07:21 PM 5/3/2006 -0400, Ben wrote:

>Indeed, there's no conversational implicature here, and this error may
>well be pure inferential stupidity. (One could try to argue that
>there is a connections with what kinds of patterns are most commonly
>observed in nature... but I don't see quite how at the moment...).

See below.

>seems people are just reasoning something stupid like "Evenly balanced
>sequences are more likely"
>However, some inferential errors may well be partly or largely caused
>by conversational implicature and other such factors...

Perhaps out of pure bloody-mindedness, I'd suggest that this is a
sort of expectation template derives from living in a world where
massive selection effects almost entirely overwhelm its underlying
stochasticisty. Hence the cunning guile of gambling hells and
moonlight gamblers: the casino proprietors, lotto owners and
card-sharps know that we are evolved to expect pattern and balance,
modified pleasingly by minor chance variations, and thus to respond
to a genuinely macro--scale random sequence as if it were designed
according the same artistic canon. And, surprisingly, that program
does seem to pay off when physicists seek the theoretic refinements
they deem most "beautiful" and "elegant". It just happens not to work
for the genuinely and (by and large) contrivedly random.

Damien Broderick

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