Re: Extremists due to strong priors?

2000-07-20 Thread Robin Hanson

Fred Foldvary wrote:
  It seems you posit that people who reason will be inflexible, and those
  who don't will be flexible and go with the crowd, which won't happen to
  be where reason would lead.  But under this theory, how do you explain that
  the people on the *other* side from you of the crowd are also inflexible?

The concept of anchoring may explain such inflexibility An idea which is
not grounded in fact but sounds plausible can easily get anchored.  But I
don't see why this would be more prevalent among those we think of as
extreme.  The difference seems to be that for meainstream ideas ...
anchoring does not seem to be inflexible ... while for non-mainstream views
... their refusal to budge is more apparant and shocking.  ... the movement
would not seem like much when viewed from the center.

I don't think you're taking the two data sources cited seriously.  The
observe a correlation between extremism and apparently objective measures of
inflexibility.  So either you have to say the data doesn't measure what it
seems, or accept the data and try to explain it.

Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326  FAX: 703-993-2323

Re: Extremists due to strong priors?

2000-07-20 Thread Alex Tabarrok

Consider the following model.

If you are ignorant it's reasonable to adopt what you perceive as the
consensus view but unreasonable to hold that view firmly since you
haven't investigated the issue in any depth.

If you investigate the issue (you receive a series of signals) it may
turn out that the consensus view appears to be correct or it may turn
our that it appears to be incorrect in which case you are buffeted by
the signals towards an extreme.  As you are pushed towards the extreme
your views become firmer since they are the result of cumulative

It thus happens that everyone at the extreme is firm since they have
received many signals pushing them to that extreme.  Some people in the
middle who have received middle signals are firm but many people are in
the middle because they are ignorant and simply adopt the consensus view
as the best first approximation.  Thus, a positive correlation between
extremeness and firmness.

Dr. Alexander Tabarrok
Vice President and Director of Research
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA, 94621-1428
Tel. 510-632-1366, FAX: 510-568-6040

Re: Extremists due to strong priors?

2000-07-20 Thread William Sullivan

At 02:46 PM 7/20/00 -0400, Robin Hanson wrote:
Another problem is that people have to be unaware of other people's
otherwise they could update on that and then should all end up at the same

I'm not clear why they'd have to be ignorant of other people's positions.
It seems that they could be ignorant of the evidence that has swayed other
people or the methodology other people use in sifting through evidence. So,
with limited information and limited information using tools, they could be
quite aware of other people's conclusions while simply thinking that other
people are wrong.

Unless, by "position" you mean the evidence and methodology as well as the
actual conclusions. If that's the case, I agree with you.

William Sullivan

Re: Extremists due to strong priors? (Out of Country)

2000-07-20 Thread Shireen Pasha

I will be out of the country between July 21st and August 20th.  

Shireen Pasha