Ab­sur­dity Heuristic

TagLast edit: 3 Oct 2020 15:42 UTC by Swimmer963 (Miranda Dixon-Luinenburg)

The absurdity heuristic classifies highly untypical situations as “absurd”, or impossible. While normally very useful as a form of epistemic hygiene, allowing us to detect nonsense, it suffers from the same problems as the representativeness heuristic.

There are a number of situations in which the absurdity heuristic is wrong. A deep theory has to override the intuitive expectation. Where you don’t expect intuition to construct an adequate model of reality, classifying an idea as impossible may be overconfident. The future is usually “absurd”, although sometimes it’s possible to rigorously infer low bounds on capabilities of the future, proving possible what is intuitively absurd.

Blog posts

See also

External References

Stranger Than History

Eliezer Yudkowsky1 Sep 2007 18:57 UTC
127 points
335 comments1 min readLW link

Talk­ing Snakes: A Cau­tion­ary Tale

Scott Alexander13 Mar 2009 1:41 UTC
185 points
232 comments3 min readLW link

Why is the Fu­ture So Ab­surd?

Eliezer Yudkowsky7 Sep 2007 8:42 UTC
51 points
17 comments3 min readLW link

The Cor­rect Con­trar­ian Cluster

Eliezer Yudkowsky21 Dec 2009 22:01 UTC
66 points
255 comments5 min readLW link

Ab­sur­dity Heuris­tic, Ab­sur­dity Bias

Eliezer Yudkowsky5 Sep 2007 3:20 UTC
53 points
10 comments2 min readLW link

Com­mon sense as a prior

Nick_Beckstead11 Aug 2013 18:18 UTC
56 points
215 comments27 min readLW link

Glide #1: Learn­ing Ra­tion­al­ity from Absurdity

musicmage411423 May 2018 18:18 UTC
9 points
0 comments3 min readLW link

The Zom­bie Preacher of Somerset

Scott Alexander28 Mar 2009 22:29 UTC
62 points
34 comments5 min readLW link

Ex­ist­ing Ab­surd Ideas

endoself30 May 2011 18:35 UTC
2 points
0 comments1 min readLW link

[SEQ RERUN] Stranger Than History

MinibearRex15 Aug 2011 3:21 UTC
9 points
0 comments1 min readLW link

What is bunk?

[deleted]8 May 2010 18:06 UTC
26 points
108 comments4 min readLW link

Univer­sal Law

Eliezer Yudkowsky29 Apr 2007 6:41 UTC
98 points
28 comments3 min readLW link

Ex­ist­ing Ab­surd Technologies

Desrtopa30 May 2011 6:12 UTC
34 points
59 comments1 min readLW link
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