Rather than trust any one economist, whatever her gender or heritage, I’d rather trust a betting market estimating future African GDP conditional on various aid levels.
The site seems to be promising to later evaluate a rather large number of widely ranging predictions. If it manages to actually keep this commitment, it will make an important contribution. The five year limit on prediction horizons is unfortunate, but of course site authors have every right to limit their effort commitment. I do suggest that they post the date that each prediction was submitted, along with the date it was made, to help observers correct for selection effects.
I’ll admit lots of childhood experiences influenced my tastes and values, and that I don’t have good reasons to expect those to be especially good tastes and values. So I will let them change to the extent I can.
There is a vast space of possible things that can go wrong, so each plan will have to cover a pretty wide range of scenarios. Even to include a scenario as one with a plan will signal to viewers that you consider it more likely and/or important.
Eliezer, in most signaling theories that economists construct the observers of signals are roughly making reasonable inferences from the signals they observe. If someone proposed to us that people take feature F as signaling C, but in fact there is no relation between F and C, we would want some explanation for this incredible mistake, or at least strong evidence that such a mistake was being consistently made.
I’m not quite sure what you mean by “mere” signaling. If visible feature F did not correlate with hard to observe character C, then F could not signal C. Of course the correlation isn’t perfect, but why doesn’t it make sense to choose F if you want people to believe you have C? Are you saying you didn’t really care what people thought of your maturity?
It is functional for leaders to be more reluctant than most to “take sides” in common disputes. Our leaders do this, and so one can in fact signal high status by being “above” common disputes. Our leaders are in fact wiser than the average person, and in addition we want to say they are even wiser, so it makes sense to call people who signal high status as “wise.” Furthermore, on average across human disputes with near equal support on the two sides the middle position is in fact the more correct position. So in this sense it does in fact signal wisdom to take a middle position.
Sure if you set the idealistic-enough cut high enough then of course then only a small fraction will make the cut. But if we consider the median non-fiction library book, don’t you agree it is more idealistic than cynical?
The cynic’s conundrum is that while a cynic might prefer that others believe an idealistic theory of his cynical mood, his own cynical beliefs should lead him to believe a cynical theory of his cynical mood. That is, cynics should think that rude complainers tend to be losers, rather than altruists.
It bothers me that some folks complaint about the story seems to be that it is too realistic, that it too clearly shows the actual sorts of betrayal that exist in the world. Yes, perhaps they misunderstood the intent of the story, but I must take my stand with telling the truth, as opposed to “teaching” morals via telling misleading stories, where betrayal is punished more consistently than it is in reality.
By what process was this story selected? That could help me judge how representative is this story.
Eliezer, our choices aren’t between only the two polar opposites of only caring for the children’s “own sake” vs. caring smartly for their reproductive value. Yes, the fact that our grief has not update for modern fertility patterns rejects one of those poles, but that does not imply the other pole.
The parental grief is not even subconsciously about reproductive value—otherwise it would update for Canadian reproductive value instead of !Kung reproductive value. … Parents do not care about children for the sake of their reproductive contribution. Parents care about children for their own sake.
Anna’s point is similar to mine point that most behaviors we talk about are a mix of computation at all levels; this doesn’t seem a good basis for hard lines for dichotomous cynical vs. not distinctions.
Eliezer, wishes aren’t horses; strongly wanting to be able to tell the difference doesn’t by itself give us evidence to distinguish. Note that legal punishments often distinguish between conscious intention and all other internal causation; so apparently that is the distinction the law considers most relevant, and/or easiest to determine. “Optimize” invites too many knee-jerk complaints that we won’t exactly optimize anything.
Eliezer, you are right that my sense of moral approval or disapproval doesn’t rely as heavily on this distinction as yours, and so I’m less eager to make this distinction. But I agree that one can sensibly distinguish genetically-encoded evolution-computed strategies from consciously brain-computed strategies from unconsciously brain-computed strategies. And I agree it would be nice to have clean terms to distinguish these, and to use those terms when we intend to speak primarily about one of these categories.
Most actions we take, however, probably have substantial contributions from all three sources, and we will often want to talk about human strategies even when we don’t know much about these relative contributions. So surely we also want to have generic words that don’t make this distinction, and these would probably be the most commonly used words out of these four sets.
My latest post hopefully clarifies my position here.
Eliezer, when I said “humans evolved tendencies … to consciously believe that such actions were done for some other more noble purposes” I didn’t mean that we create complex mental plans to form such mistaken beliefs. Nor am I contradicting your saying “he wants you to understand his logic puzzles”; that may well be his conscious intention.
Eliezer, you have misunderstood me if you think I typically suggest “you told yourself a self-deceiving story about virtuously loving them for their mind” or that I say “no human being was ever attracted to a mate’s mind, nor ever wanted to be honest in a business transaction and not just signal honesty.” I suspect we tend to talk about different levels of causation; I tend to focus on more distal causes while you focus on more proximate causes. I’m also not sure you understand what I mean by “signaling.”
Eliezer, why so reluctant to analyze an actual equilibrium, rather than first order strategies ignoring so many important effects? My claims were about real equilibrium behavior, not some hypothetical world of clueless caricatures. And why so emphasize a few “writing” experts you’ve read over vast numbers of teachers of writing styles in law, engineering, accounting, academia, etc.?