Rev­er­sal Test

TagLast edit: 23 Sep 2020 18:37 UTC by Ruby

The reversal test is a technique for fighting status quo bias in judgments about the preferred value of a continuous parameter. If one deems the change of the parameter in one direction to be undesirable, the reversal test is to check that either the change of that parameter in the opposite direction (away from status quo) is deemed desirable, or that there are strong reasons to expect that the current value of the parameter is (at least locally) the optimal one.

For example, if it became possible to increase the human lifespan, some would argue that it would be undesirable for people to live longer because, say, overpopulation would be difficult to manage. The reversal test is then to check that the same people accept that shorter lifespan is desirable, or that there are really strong reasons to believe that the current lifespan happens to be optimal.

The rationale of the Reversal Test is simple: if a continuous parameter admits of a wide range of possible values, only a tiny subset of which can be local optima, then it is prima facie implausible that the actual value of that parameter should just happen to be at one of these rare local optima [...] the burden of proof shifts to those who maintain that some actual parameter is at such a local optimum: they need to provide some good reason for supposing that it is so.

Obviously, the Reversal Test does not show that preferring the status quo is always unjustified. In many cases, it is possible to meet the challenge posed by the Reversal Test

—The reversal test: eliminating status quo bias in applied ethics

Main article

See also

External links

Ap­plause Lights

Eliezer Yudkowsky11 Sep 2007 18:31 UTC
317 points
99 comments2 min readLW link

Nor­mal Cryonics

Eliezer Yudkowsky19 Jan 2010 19:08 UTC
104 points
964 comments4 min readLW link

Diseased think­ing: dis­solv­ing ques­tions about disease

Scott Alexander30 May 2010 21:16 UTC
517 points
357 comments9 min readLW link

Rev­er­sal Tests in Ar­gu­ment and Debate

Davis_Kingsley13 Sep 2019 9:18 UTC
32 points
2 comments1 min readLW link

See­ing Sta­tus Quo Bias

Liron8 Mar 2021 0:24 UTC
27 points
4 comments5 min readLW link
No comments.