[SEQ RERUN] Absurdity Heuristic, Absurdity Bias

Today’s post, Absurdity Heuristic, Absurdity Bias was originally published on 05 September 2007. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):

Under some circumstances, rejecting arguments on the basis of absurdity is reasonable. The absurdity heuristic can allow you to identify hypotheses that aren’t worth your time. However, detailed knowledge of the underlying laws should allow you to override the absurdity heuristic. Objects fall, but helium balloons rise. The future has been consistently absurd and will likely go on being that way. When the absurdity heuristic is extended to rule out crazy-sounding things with a basis in fact, it becomes absurdity bias.


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This post is part of the Rerunning the Sequences series, where we’ll be going through Eliezer Yudkowsky’s old posts in order so that people who are interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was “Science” as Curiosity-Stopper, and you can use the sequence_reruns tag or rss feed to follow the rest of the series.

Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day’s sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go here for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.