From: Mark Waser (MWaser@cox.net)
Date: Sun Aug 27 2006 - 14:36:25 MDT
Thanks for the rational reply. :-) <Please do me a favor and re-read
my last paragraph way down below after skimming this>
> You've missed something, Mark -- the example that started this
> subthread of the argument (the feminist bank teller question and the
> typical responses it gets) *is a canonical heuristics-and-biases
No, I got that. Richard's point (and my reply to your point) is that
that exact same example is *also* specifically used by the mental modeling
folk to show that the experts in that field don't agree with the experts in
the Bayesian field -- at least, as far as saying that human reasoning can be
explained by or is even consistent with Bayesianism.
Eliezer keeps saying "RTFM! (To name a specific M, "Judgment Under
Uncertainty" would do him some good.)". Richard keeps saying "I understand
that topic but IT IS NOT RELEVANT TO MY POINT".
Try googling "feminist bank teller". The first entry you come up with
is David Chart's "Inference to the Best Explanation, Bayesianism, and
Feminist Bank Tellers". He also seems to a) understand Bayesianism, b)
refer to and understand the experimental results, and c) not believe that
Bayes is relevant to the human mental model.
It looks to me as if Richard is merely following the experts in the
field of mental modeling and using the canonical example of the
heuristics-and-biases folk that the mental modeling folk use to refute the
claim that humans are Bayesian. Claiming that Richard hasn't read the
literature when he's clearly exactly repeating the literature is
> except insofar as Richard keeps seeming to think modeling is part of the
> heuristics-and-biases subfield, which it isn't.
Could you give an example of where Richard does this? I think that he's
pretty clear that his point is that he believes that heuristics and biases
(at least as performed by Bayesians) are not relevant since they are not the
mental model which is actually employed by the sole example of General
Intelligence - i.e. humans (in fact, that's pretty much a rephrasing of his
Are you arguing that it *isn't* fair to say that heuristics-and-biases
is one particular model (sub-field) that mental modeling may consider (and
> That Richard thought his alternative explanation was something novel
> for us to think about demonstrates pretty clearly a lack of knowledge
> of one of the most basic series of experiments in the subfield of
> heuristics and biases. This was Eliezer's point.
I didn't understand Richard to think that his alternative explanation
was *novel*. Could you give me an example of where you believe that Richard
Also, I would argue that Eliezer's point was *not* that Richard's
explanation was novel but that it had already been thought of and "proven"
wrong -- a point that is clearly *still* under contention if you read the
> As someone else who has read a good bit of h&b literature, it really
> is ridiculous how Richard, and now you, are reacting.
The h&b field claim to understand something. The mental modeling people
contest that understanding. To me, that something seems covered by both
fields BUT that the h&b folk have a large vested interest in their
particualr understanding. My reaction is to the lack of scientific
integrity that I feel is being shown. If Eliezer can come up with a valid
argument that Richard is wrong (with specific experimental results), then he
should do so. The fact that there is a field of experts that supports
Richard's point of view tends to argue that Eliezer can't do so.
> alternative proposal demonstrates ignorance of *basics* in a field
> he's claiming competency in.
Do you mean the mental modeling field whose experts apparently have
the same ignorance (or NOT -- as Eliezer says, RTFM)?
> The only thing further that Eliezer
> might do in support of his point is provide direct references to
> feminist bank teller articles...
Well now, I provided a direct reference to an article that clearly
supports Richard (with all of the feminist bank teller experiments as it's
> but, knowing that he's right on this
> matter, I wouldn't really fault him for not going out of his way to do
> Richard's research for him.
How do *you* *know* so firmly that he is correct? I *think* that I've
read the majority of the relevant stuff and I'm strongly leaning the other
> But it would potentially clear up the
> (very odd, because so basic, IMO) dispute regarding the feminist bank
> teller and h&b.
Eliezer *really* needs to do so. This is *not* an odd dispute. It is
an ongoing, inter-field debate. What is odd is that Eliezer has the
arrogance to claim right, wrong, and ignorance when it is clearly he who is
not aware of the debate.
I also think that you need to do some googling and get up to speed. I
understand that you got mired in the back-water and opinions of the H&B
folk. It happens to everyone. Now, someone is saying that there are other
valid opinions out there. Are you going to investigate or are you going to
rely upon one expert who isn't even willing to discuss the subject on a
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jeff Medina" <email@example.com>
> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Sent: Sunday, August 27, 2006 3:08 PM
> Subject: Re: The Conjunction Fallacy Fallacy [WAS Re: Anti-singularity
>> On 8/27/06, Mark Waser <MWaser@cox.net> wrote:
>>> you [Eliezer] seem to need to be
>>> constantly trying to steer the conversation from the field that Richard
>>> initially brought up (mental modeling) to one that you are more
>>> with (heuristics and biases) -- despite the fact that the relevance of
>>> change is obviously disputable.
>> You've missed something, Mark -- the example that started this
>> subthread of the argument (the feminist bank teller question and the
>> typical responses it gets) *is a canonical heuristics-and-biases
>> example*. That's where this aspect of the debate began; Eliezer is
>> not trying to steer away from modeling, except insofar as Richard
>> keeps seeming to think modeling is part of the heuristics-and-biases
>> subfield, which it isn't.
>> Richard posed what he thinks is a more plausible alternative
>> explanation the feminist bank teller experimental results. That
>> alternative was one of the first, most obvious alternatives proffered
>> by psych folks, and it has been experimentally tested and *does not*
>> explain people's responses to the feminist bank teller problem.
>> That Richard thought his alternative explanation was something novel
>> for us to think about demonstrates pretty clearly a lack of knowledge
>> of one of the most basic series of experiments in the subfield of
>> heuristics and biases. This was Eliezer's point. (The further point,
>> that mental models *isnt* heuristics and biases, is also sound, and
>> further demonstrates Richard's lack of knowledge of h&b, but is
>> redundant given the first point, which is elementary and
>> As someone else who has read a good bit of h&b literature, it really
>> is ridiculous how Richard, and now you, are reacting. Richard's
>> alternative proposal demonstrates ignorance of *basics* in a field
>> he's claiming competency in. The only thing further that Eliezer
>> might do in support of his point is provide direct references to
>> feminist bank teller articles... but, knowing that he's right on this
>> matter, I wouldn't really fault him for not going out of his way to do
>> Richard's research for him. But it would potentially clear up the
>> (very odd, because so basic, IMO) dispute regarding the feminist bank
>> teller and h&b.
>> Jeff Medina
>> Sr. Systems Engineer, Lockheed Martin
>> Sr. Programmer, Elemental Solutions
>> Fellow, Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies
>> "Do you want to live forever?"
>> "Dunno. Ask me again in five hundred years."
>> (_Guards! Guards!_, Terry Pratchett)
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