[extropy-chat] Elvis Sightings

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Wed Jan 31 00:50:52 UTC 2007

"Do we simply have holes in our brains?"

After having read too much www.overcomingbias.com I'm ready to say that it
is true for all of us. It looks like Scott Adams was right, we are all
idiots some part of the time. Another good heuristic comes from my friend
Håkan: "the fraction of idiots in any two groups is likely to be equal
unless there is some factor concentrating them" (the Andersson Idiocy
Equipartion Principle). This doesn't help us resolve the cold fusion
quarrel, but maybe we can cool it down a bit by assuming there is a
sizeable amount of incompetence involved on both sides.

It would be useful to actually get some data on the frequency of
extraordinary claims evoking bullshit responses that later turns out to be
true versus the claims that don't pan out. We have an example bias of the
successes, but tend to forget the failures. It might also be interesting
to look for common traits of the claimants of the later verified claims
that could help predict whether they are right. Maybe polymaths are more
likely than average researchers to make such claims, but only people with
a solid grounding in *one* field are right (or vice versa).

Anders Sandberg,
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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