Re: Fun with Experimental Design [WAS: Re: The Conjunction Fallacy Fallacy]

From: Martin Striz (
Date: Sun May 07 2006 - 02:51:17 MDT

On 5/6/06, Charles D Hixson <> wrote:

> To presume that "Rational people disagree all the time. " you must
> believe that rational people exist. In my entire life I haven't found
> any. I've found some people who appear to make rational decisons in
> some sub-field(s) most of the time.

I have no disagreement there, but some people are definitely rational
more often than others. I think Michael Vassar was talking about
those kinds of people.

I can agree with the statement "perfectly rational people never
disagree." That is, given the same evidence, and using the same
inference rules, they should come to the same conclusion. But that's
obvious. The problem is that most people don't use the same rules in
all situations. Emotions in particular are a double-edged sword.
While they provide important priors for navigating the world (we would
die quickly if we had to discover all existential threats through
neutral inference procedures alone), they bias our views against the
evidence sometimes.

There are also all those other biases that we're so familiar with, but
if innate biases are species-typical, then people should be making the
same kinds of mistakes and coming to the same (erroneous) conclusions.
 Which they do, but that doesn't explain the /differences/ between
people's decisions.


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