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Monday
Oct162017

Motivated System 2 Reasoning (MS2R): a Research Program

Motivated System 2 Reasoning (MS2R): a Research Program

1. MS2R in general.  “Motivated System 2 Reasoning” (MS2R) refers to the affinity between cultural cognition and conscious, effortful information processing. 

In psychology, “dual process” theories distinguish betweeen two styles of reasoning.  The first, often denoted as “System 1,” is rapid, intuitive, and emotion pervaded. The other—typically denoted as “System 2”—is deliberate, conscious, and analytical. 

The core of an exceedingly successful research program, this conception of dual process reasoning has been shown to explain the prevelance of myriad reasoning biases. From hindsight bias to confirmation bias; from the gamblers fallacy to the sunk-cost fallacy; from probability neglect to the availability effect—all are psotively correlated with over-reliance on heuristic, System 1 reasoning.  By the same token, an ability and dispostition to rely instead on the conscious, effortful style associated with System 2 predicts less vulnerability to these cognitive miscues.

A species of motivated reasoning, cultural cognition refers to the tendency of individuals to selctively seek out and credit evidence in patterns that reflect the perception of risks and other policy-relevant facts associated with membership in their cultural group. Cultural cognition can generate  intense and enduring forms of cultural polarization where such groups subscribe to conflicting positions.

Because in such cases cultural cognition is not a truth-convergent form of information processing, it is perfectly plausible to suspectg that it is just another form of bias driven by overreliance on heuristic, System 1 information processing. 

But this conjecture turns out to be incorrect.

It’s incorrect not because cutlural cognition has no connection to System 1 styles of reasoning among individuals who are accustomed to this form of heuristic information processing. 

Rather it is wrong (demonstrably so) because cultural cognition does not abate as the ability and disposition to use System 2 styles of reasning increase.  On the contrary, those members of the public who are most proficient at System 2 reasoning are the most culturally polarized on societal risks such as the reality of climate change, the efficacy of gun control, the hazards of fracking, the safety of nuclear power generation, etc.

MS2R comprises the the cognitive mechanisms that account for this startling result.

2. First generation MS2R studies. Supported by a National Science Foundation grant (SES-0922714), the existence and dynamics of MS2R were established principally through three studies:

  • Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L.L., Braman, D. & Mandel, G. The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature Climate Change 2, 732-735 (2012). The study reported in this paper tested directly the competing hypotheses that polarization over climate change risks was associated with over-reliance on heuristic System 1  information processing and that such polarization was associated instead with science literacy and numeracy.  The first conjecture implied that as those apptitudes, which are associated with basic scientific reasoning proficiency, increased, polarization among competing groups should abate.  In fact, exactly the opposite occurred, a result consistent with the second conjecture, which predicted that those individuals most adept at System 2 information processing could be expected to use this reasoning proficiency to ferret out information supportive of their group’s respective positions and to rationalize rejection of the rest. These effects, moreover, were highest among subjects who themselves achieved the highest scores on the CRT test.

  • Kahan, D.M. Ideology, Motivated Reasoning, and Cognitive Reflection. Judgment and Decision Making 8, 407-424 (2013). The experimental study in this paper demonstrated how proficiencies in cognitive reflection, the apptitude most commonly associated with use of System 2 information processing, magnified polarization over the validity of evidence of the relative closed-mindedness of individuals who took one or another position on the reality of human-caused climate change: where scores on the Cognitive Reflection Test were asserted to be higher among “climate skeptics,” ideologically right-leaning subjects found the evidence that the CRT predicts open-mindedness much more convincing than did individuals who were left-leaning in their political outlooks; where, in contrast, CRT scores were represented as being higher among “climate believers,” left-leaning subjects found the evidence of the validity of the CRT more convincing that did Republivcans.

  • Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Dawson, E.C. & Slovic, P. Motivated numeracy and enlightened self-government. Behavioural Public Policy 1, 54-86 (2017). This paper reports an experimental study on how numeracy interacts with cultural cognition.  Numeracy is an apptitude to reason well with quantitative data and to draw appropriate inferences about such information.  In the study, it was shown that individuals who score highest on a numeracy assessment test were again the most polarized, this time on the inferences to be drawn from data from a study on the impact of gun control: where the data, reported in a standard 2x2 contingency table supported the position associated with their ideologies  (either gun control reduces crime or gun control increaeses crime) subjects high in numeracy far outperformed their low-numeracy counterparts. But where that data supported an inference conterary to the position associated with subjects’ political predispositions, those highest in numeracy performed no better than their low-numeracy counterparts on the very same covariance-detection task.

3. Second generation studies.  The studies described above have given rise to multiple additonal studies seeking to probe and extend their results.  Some of these studies include:

3. Secondary sources describing MS2R

 

 

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Reader Comments (31)

Very much a Freudian slip: "The studies described above have given risk to multiple additonal studies"

October 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBen

@Ben-- many thanks!

October 16, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Believing that motivated reasoning is a kissing cousin to tribalism, I am guessing that some folks here might find this interesting:

https://bloggingheads.tv/videos/47828

October 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I like Dan's formulation better - those studies have given RISK to additional studies, not RISE! Here is a wonderful demo:

1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/04/17/racism-motivated-trump-voters-more-than-authoritarianism-or-income-inequality/?utm_term=.08b8d5dce6e6
This is a Washington Post article purporting to show blah-blah "
>>>>Monkey Cage Analysis
Racism motivated Trump voters more than authoritarianism
By Thomas Wood April 17<<<<<<

2. http://quillette.com/2017/10/17/beware-emerging-field-trump-studies/

This analysis looks at the exact same data as (1) above and draws the opposite conclusions

>>>>>>>>>>>> Published on October 17, 2017
comments 3
Beware the Emerging Field of ‘Trump Studies’
written by Musa al-Gharbi <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

"..............social researchers overwhelmingly identify with the Left. They usually think of opposition to the political establishment or status quo as positive traits, and claim to champion those disdained by the rich and powerful. Therefore testing these omitted variables would require openness to the possibility that the very people progressives seem to despise most of all (Trump voters) might actually be motivated by–or outright embody–some trait they deeply admire.................."

---------------------------------------------------------

What is being measured as "cultural cognition" may include an omitted variable: extent to which respondents conflate policy prescriptions (on climate change, gun control, nuclear power, racism, authoritarianism, etc) with the underlying MATHEMATICAL cost-benefit analysis.

The conflation appears to lie entirely in the "left" contingent - on all items.

October 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Link for Dan:
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-supreme-court-is-allergic-to-math/

October 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Nonsense, Jonathan, and to see why math has nothing to do with the article just read this part:

"...McCleskey lost the case. It’s been cited as one of the worst decisions since World War II and has been called “the Dred Scott decision of our time.”..."

You may not LIKE the law applicable at the time of the Dred Scott decision, but it WAS the law at the time. And the court is not supposed to WRITE law, so that decision was correct.

The bias is entirely on your side and has nothing to do with mathematics. QED.

October 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Interesting:

Four of the eight justices who regularly speak during oral arguments1 voiced anxiety about using calculations to answer questions about bias and partisanship. Some said the math was unwieldy, complicated, and newfangled. One justice called it “baloney” and argued that the difficulty the public would have in understanding the test would ultimately erode the legitimacy of the court.

I wonder if we might be able to find a correlation between the justices' political orientation and their views on using calculations to evaluate the impact of gerrymandering? Motivated reasoning at work - despite the domain-specific expertise of the justices? Say it ain't so!

October 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Finally - if McCleskey was incorrectly decided, then it follows logically that graduates of all law schools except Harvard and Yale (currently all 9 justices) should keep getting nominated because their persistent exclusion violates their 14th Amendment rights. Same fallacy applies to current "efficiency gap" case. (For the record, I am a graduate of MIT and have no dog in this fight).

October 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

I see I should have read further into the article before commenting.

But maybe this allergy to statistical evidence is really a smoke screen — a convenient way to make a decision based on ideology while couching it in terms of practicality.

October 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Ecoute,

"Nonsense, Jonathan..." My reason for posting the link had nothing at all to do with that incidental Dred Scott comment (the article itself has little to do with that comment, after all). Dan knows some of the Supremes (he clerked for Kagan, I believe), and had previously proposed bypassing juries for judges because of judges superior abilities to review evidence with less bias. That, plus Dan's belief in the power of good statistics (along with interest in what makes some statistics good), equals likely interest.

Maybe I should be sorry that I didn't precede the link with a trigger warning.

October 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I am considering reading "The Influential Mind" by Tali Sharot - anyone have any opinions on her work? I have read what was available in Google books, which includes discussion of Dan's infamous skin-rash-gun-control result. I've also read several papers that cite her work, but none on which she was a (co)author.

October 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

"Dan knows some of the Supremes (he clerked for Kagan, I believe), and had previously proposed bypassing juries for judges because of judges superior abilities to review evidence with less bias. That, plus Dan's belief in the power of good statistics (along with interest in what makes some statistics good), equals likely interest."

It's an interesting article and an interesting issue, but it's not "good statistics".

The basic problem with the gerrymandering metric (and incidentally, in the McCleskey case) is that it uses the fallacy of confirming the consequent. If the district was gerrymandered, it would increase the efficiency gap: therefore a high efficiency gap is evidence of gerrymandering. If the justice system was biased against blacks, there would be more death sentences handed out: therefore a high death sentence rate implies that the justice system is biased against blacks. The problem with the logic is that there may be many other causes of the observed effect, and the contribution to the likelihood of one particular hypothesis may be tiny. Thus, it's perfectly apparent that if people's voting choices change, that will affect the efficiency gap metric - but without any change in electoral boundaries it's clear that no gerrymandering has taken place. So the metric is measuring other things besides gerrymandering. And if you was to deliberately wait until those other factors had randomly shifted in the direction you desired, and called for the boundaries to be adjusted precisely at that time, you could in fact use the anti-gerrymandering metric to gerrymander the district in your favour!

Suppose we took the ideal case of uniformly randomly selected voting districts. With 51% of the population voting X, you get exactly 51% of the electorate in each district voting X. 100% of party Y's votes are "wasted", and 2% of party X's are. The "efficiency gap" is massive! This utterly neutral, utterly impartial random allocation of electoral boundaries is massively gerrymandered! Crazy!

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.

(What the metric is really measuring is the difference between the observed outcome and the result of proportional representation. With a first-past-the-post system in perfect uniformly selected districts, you don't get 51% of districts for X and 49% for Y, you get 100% for X. The problem is FPTP, not the boundaries.)

Judges don't like playing the cups and ball trick with "experts" where they can't see what sleight of hand may be going on behind the scenes. Statistics is notorious for having lots of counter-intuitive traps for the unwary, and the electoral system in no place for complicated, badly-understood pieces of arcane statistical machinery that the ordinary Joe on the street cannot understand. The electoral system must not only be as fair as we can make it, but more importantly, it must be *seen* to be fair and transparent, by as many people as possible. That means not taking experts' word for it, but insisting on explanations we can all understand well enough to see the potential shortcomings in it.

"But maybe this allergy to statistical evidence is really a smoke screen — a convenient way to make a decision based on ideology while couching it in terms of practicality."

Or maybe this reliance on statistics is a smokescreen - a convenient way to make a decision based on ideology while couching it in terms of science.

The interesting question is, why didn't everyone here spot the obvious flaws in the argument? We read the article, interpreted it as a case of pure-science-versus-stupid-judges, good-versus-evil, truth-versus-falsehood, and started wondering "if we might be able to find a correlation between the justices' political orientation and their views on using calculations to evaluate the impact of gerrymandering?" Why did we not wonder instead about a possible correlation between the political orientation of academic political scientists and their views on using calculations to evaluate the impact of gerrymandering?

Motivated reasoning at work - despite the motivated-reasoning-specific expertise of the readers here? Say it ain't so!

October 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

The interesting question is, why didn't everyone here spot the obvious flaws in the argument?

The interesting question? Is there only one interesting question?

How about the question of why Roberts called the argument gobbledygook but didn't actually articulate a counter analysis? Or why did he express such antipathy to statistical arguments and social science? Another interesting question is whether his lack of respect for statistics and social science is inform. Does he always express such antipathy and reject statistics, or does he embrace statistics and social when they align with his ideology? Is it interesting that ecoute ignores the point of the article and gets triggered by criticism of Dred Scott? How about the question of why ecoute keeps testing us that he's a graduate of MIT? Many interesting questions, IMO.

October 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Other interesting questions, IMO.

If it's possible that gerrymandering, at some point, "goes to far," and how wild you measure that?

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/gerrymandering-is-on-trial/

... the Republican Party’s current “seat bonus”—a higher percentage of seats than of votes—aligns with the historic advantage for any majority party in the House over the last 70 years, back to 1946.... the total vote differential between the two parties for elections to the House in 2016 was 1.2 percent. But the difference in the number of seats is 10.8 percent,... This aggregate over-representation of the majority party is considerably extreme when looked at state-by-state. In red states (see Figure 2), Republicans garnered 56 percent of the vote but 74.6 percent of representation. In blue states, Democrats won 60.3 percent of the vote but 69.1 percent of representation.


https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2017/02/22/misrepresentation-in-the-house/amp/

If we think that proving the cause of the "efficiency gap" is hard, and the best we can do is show correlations, should we just throw up our hands and say we shouldn't consider addressing the situation? Should we just say that "thems the breaks," and dismiss concerns that politicians gerrymandering effectively disenfranchises minority voters (along different lines of categorization criteria)?

https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/upshot/as-american-as-apple-pie-the-rural-votes-disproportionate-slice-of-power.amp.html

October 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Discussion here about what the 538 article discusses...the partist closely related starts around 27 minutes in:

https://m.soundcloud.com/woodrowwilsonschool/politics-polls-62-does-gerrymandering-leave-voters-without-a-voice#t=0:08

October 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan - your motives for posting the article in no way affect the mathematical conclusion that the "efficiency gap" is statistical nonsense.

Joshua - your ever-widening descent into a spiral of meta- meta- meta- analyses is the sure way to paranoia. Am I expected to deny that Roberts, I, and an unknown number of others are involved in a dastardly plot of imposing Republican rule in the state legislatures? Well I am not going to.The universities were only mentioned to illustrate the fallacy of identifying perceived inequities to be remedied by the 14th - recall that nowhere does the Constitution specify justices should be lawyers, let alone graduates of specific schools.

But why speculate when the oral argument is available? Page 38, Roberts speaking:
"..And if you're the intelligent man on
the street and the Court issues a decision, and
let's say, okay, the Democrats win, and that
person will say: "Well, why did the Democrats
win?" And the answer is going to be because EG
was greater than 7 percent, where EG is the
sigma of party X wasted votes minus the sigma
of party Y wasted votes over the sigma of party
X votes plus party Y votes.
And the intelligent man on the street
is going to say that's a bunch of baloney."

October 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Jonathan - your motives for posting the article in no way affect the mathematical conclusion that the "efficiency gap" is statistical nonsense.

It might be worth looking elsewhere for a better explanation and justification for the efficiency gap, as for example here:
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2457468

However, even if you believe the efficiency gap is nonsense, the theme of that 538 article is still relevant. For example, suppose a court passed judgement based on some nonsensical mathematical premise - how would the Supremes rule on appeal of that case? Would they be capable of analyzing their way through the nonsense? Would they deny the appeal only due to their own issues with math in general? Similarly, suppose a court passed judgement involving some completely rational mathematical premise - would the Supremes overturn that ruling due to their mathematical ignorance?

We certainly can't expect judges (even the Supremes) to be fluent in all areas that may arise in cases, but we should at least expect them to not be dismissive of relevant areas of expertise, and to seek outside help in developing the understanding necessary for proper adjudication.

October 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan - the Court's standing jurisprudence considers mathematical and scientific problems as nonjusticiable. Redress of such grievances is the function of Congress and the Chief Executive.

Here's a 2-minute vido from congressional expert on plate tectonics, global warming, and related matters:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yT48wiRue4

October 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

"It might be worth looking elsewhere for a better explanation and justification for the efficiency gap, as for example here"

Several Justices expressed interest in the concept of partisan symmetry — the idea that a plan should treat the major parties symmetrically in terms of the conversion of votes to seats

This sort of thinking has been studied in depth - it led to Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, which showed that there was no non-trivial electoral system that met even minimal criteria for being "fair". It's simply a question of what sort of unfairness you're most willing to put up with.

That they're even considering tinkering in this way suggests they don't know about Arrow's theorem, and strongly suggests they don't know what they're doing. Personally, I'd find it seriously alarming that the proposal has got as far as it has without being shot down. What's going on?

"However, even if you believe the efficiency gap is nonsense, the theme of that 538 article is still relevant."

True. The question of how courts (and legislators) are to rule on deeply technical questions they're not competent to judge is an interesting and important one. The same issue arises in the GM debate, climate science, pesticides, medical and reproductive science, and many others.

"suppose a court passed judgement based on some nonsensical mathematical premise - how would the Supremes rule on appeal of that case? Would they be capable of analyzing their way through the nonsense? Would they deny the appeal only due to their own issues with math in general? Similarly, suppose a court passed judgement involving some completely rational mathematical premise - would the Supremes overturn that ruling due to their mathematical ignorance?"

Courts are meant to make judgement on the basis of what has been proven 'beyond reasonable doubt' or on the 'balance of probabilities' to the court. If the court didn't understand the proof, it's not been proven.

The same thing applies to any case where a litigant is telling the truth, but doesn't have evidence to prove it. The presumption is that it is preferable to reject even true claims if they are unproven, because it's far too easy to make false claims and make up some uncheckable nonsense in their support. If anyone objects, you just assert that they're incompetent to judge, or biased, or being paid to lie by oil companies, or whatever.

"We certainly can't expect judges (even the Supremes) to be fluent in all areas that may arise in cases,..."

Anyone who had got deeply into any technical area knows that *everyone* can understand only the tiniest fraction of the deeply technical areas of science and mathematics. *Everyone* has limits beyond which not only do they not know, but which they're utterly incapable of understanding even if it's explained slowly and carefully to them. The wisdom to be found in "Socratic ignorance" and the pitfalls of "double ignorance" has a very long history.

"... but we should at least expect them to not be dismissive of relevant areas of expertise, and to seek outside help in developing the understanding necessary for proper adjudication."

That can be interpreted in two ways - should they take the experts' word for it, and accept whatever they say without being able to judge the matter for themselves, simply because they are an "expert" - or should they ask experts to explain their reasoning and evidence, and how the conclusion has been verified and validated, in a way they can understand, and reject it if that understanding fails?

The judges here seem to be taking the latter position - they've clearly listened to the statistical exposition, but apparently neither they nor - they believe - the man on the street are able to understand it. Under the latter interpretation, they're right to reject it. We have to ask ourselves - did the justices who accepted the argument really understand it? Or did they simply take the expert's word for it? How safe is that as a legal doctrine, to hand authority and control of justicial power over to an "expert" expounding on their own personal pet theory? How do you even know they're an expert, if you don't have the expertise yourself to judge? Do you take their word for it on that, too?

An amazing number of these modern issues come down to whether Argumentum ad Verecundiam is to be taken as a valid mode of argumentation, with ruling power over other people's lives, wealth, and liberty.

October 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

NiV,

How does Arrow's Impossibility theorem apply in our prohibitively 2-party system? Even in districts where non R or D candidates run, they usually don't receive enough votes to make up the difference between the top 2 (R & D) candidates.

Are you implying that in the cases considered as possible instances of gerrymandering, there were more than 2 candidates such that the 3rd on down summed up made up more than the difference between the top 2?

Now, if you were considering just primaries, I'd agree. But, in a discussion of gerrymandering, we're certainly not discussing primaries.

October 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

they've clearly listened to the statistical exposition, but apparently neither they nor - they believe - the man on the street are able to understand it. Under the latter interpretation, they're right to reject it.

He didn't merely say that he doesn't understand it, and so therefore it shouldn't be the basis for his ruling. He didn't say that since he didn't understand it, he should seek expert advice about how to interpret its validity. He said that it is gobbledygook (without presenting a supporting analysis) . So, what he doesn't understand is gobbledygook? How does he know its gobbledygook if he doesn't understand it? Is it gobbledygook merely because he doesn't understand it? Merely because it was presented by social scientists? So as a justice on SCOTUS, he had no obligation to provide a contrasting argument before calling it nonsense?

So we have at least a couple of potential reactions to the statistical argument. One is to say, "I don't understand it, it is gobbledygook (which I know even though I don't understand it)." One is to say, "I don't understand it but I am inclined to think it isn't gobbledygook because I trust the seriousness, if not necessarily the infallibility, of credentialed experts whose analysis confirms my ideological bias." Another is to say, "I don't understand it, and I don't trust the infallibility of any particular expert, but I owe it to the American public to try to evaluate the veracity of the argument by (1) digging in to it to the best of my abilities and (2) seriously consulting with experts from a variety of perspectives to do the best job that I can to weigh the probabilities?"

October 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Somewhat related

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/10/18/opinion/supreme-court-justices-factcheckers.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

October 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua:
"........How about the question of why Roberts called the argument gobbledygook but didn't actually articulate a counter analysis? ......."

This question is not even wrong.

If I see in a shop window a really ugly dress, I'm not going to walk in and buy it just because I can't think of a better dress design. No person of sound mind would. Are you trying to cumulate enough fallacies in hopes their sum total will form a coherent whole? Do you know of any cases where this approach has succeeded?

October 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ecoute,

Thanks so much for straightening me out.

Imagine my embarrassment from being not even wrong.

It was so useful for you to explain how you buying a dress is exactly the same as a justice on SCOTUS rejecting an analytical tool, out of hand, as being nonsense, because of his presumption that the tool is too complicated for the public to understand.

What kind of an idiot would think that SCOTUS might utilize any variety of complicated analytical tools that the public might not understand, and consult with experts to help evaluate those tools, when determining rulings on such issues as environmental impact or voting rights?

Obviously, idiots who are paranoid and not even wrong, of course. Perhaps if I had gone to MIT I would come to such realizations on my own, but what's so wonderful about the internet is that I can have people who have attended such fine universities straighten me out on these issues.

Anyway, happy dress-shopping. I know that you will have a wide selection of choices, since being a libertarian you must not be fat, and you won't be relegated to shopping in the "plus size" sections.

October 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dresses or political candidates - the math never changes. NiV mentioned the classic reference above, here is a link:
https://books.google.com/books/about/Social_Choice_and_Individual_Values.html?id=y_rkX6QWOYMC
There is an extensive preview section, read it.

Choices in the plus-size section for women "of size" ("fat" is now banned from online communications) are mathematically equivalent to voters who really prefer a third-party candidate, but instead are forced to vote for the least disliked candidate of the main two parties to avoid having their votes wasted.

I know of no proof that right-wing-leaning persons are thinner than the left-wing leaning, but if interested you can observe thousands of both lots congregating at a campus of the University of Florida where Richard Spencer is about to give a speech. Antifa, police, even National Guard are out in force. Sounds like a complete zoo already, here is a livestream:
https://dailystormer.ai/

October 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

PS the preview on the book link includes the case of the shopper misrepresenting her tastes rationally (also answering Jonathan's question) so everyone ends up better off: see Chapter I (Introduction), section 2. (Some Limitations of the Analysis).

October 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

"How does Arrow's Impossibility theorem apply in our prohibitively 2-party system?"

Because minority candidates can split the vote and tip the election one way or the other.

"Are you implying that in the cases considered as possible instances of gerrymandering, there were more than 2 candidates such that the 3rd on down summed up made up more than the difference between the top 2?"

No. Like I explained above, the problem is the FPTP system, where their metric measures the difference from proportional representation.

However, the reason we don't just say "Well, let's use proportional representation then" is that it has other flaws, such as that in a 49-49-2 split, the 2% party controls the result of any 2-choice decision. *Every* system has such flaws and unfairnesses, which is why we stick with FPTP and accept that it has flaws. When academics turn up selling magic snake-oil electoral systems promising 'fairness', look out for the catch. Arrow's theorem tells us there must always be one.

"He said that it is gobbledygook (without presenting a supporting analysis) . So, what he doesn't understand is gobbledygook? How does he know its gobbledygook if he doesn't understand it?"

'Gobbledygook' means: "Language that is meaningless or is made unintelligible by excessive use of technical terms". (OED).

" Is it gobbledygook merely because he doesn't understand it?"

Yes.

"One is to say, "I don't understand it but I am inclined to think it isn't gobbledygook because I trust the seriousness, if not necessarily the infallibility, of credentialed experts whose analysis confirms my ideological bias.""

Argumentum ad Verecundiam, yes?

""I don't understand it, and I don't trust the infallibility of any particular expert, but I owe it to the American public to try to evaluate the veracity of the argument by (1) digging in to it to the best of my abilities and (2) seriously consulting with experts from a variety of perspectives to do the best job that I can to weigh the probabilities?""

It's the expert's job to make it intelligible. It's the litigant's job to find experts capable of doing that to present to the judge. It's not the judges job to do their job for them.

You could certainly ask why whoever was on the other side of this case didn't seek out some alternative expertise. If even I can figure out what was wrong with it in less than ten minutes, I'm sure there must be plenty of other people who could have done so.

"It was so useful for you to explain how you buying a dress is exactly the same as a justice on SCOTUS rejecting an analytical tool, out of hand, as being nonsense, because of his presumption that the tool is too complicated for the public to understand."

Buying a dress without being able to assess its quality because you're not a dressmaker yourself is analogous to buying a statistical formula without being able to assess it's quality because you're not a statistician. The dressmaker's skill is in making the complex aesthetic and technical skills of dressmaking design accessible and comprehensible to the public, so they'll buy it. The truly expert statistician's likewise. That seems obvious enough.

Did you owe it to the American public to try to evaluate the veracity of Ecoute's argument by (1) digging in to it to the best of your abilities and (2) seriously consulting with experts from a variety of perspectives to do the best job that you can to weigh the probabilities? Or was it easier to dismiss it as gobbledygook?

" I know that you will have a wide selection of choices, since being a libertarian you must not be fat, and you won't be relegated to shopping in the "plus size" sections."

Was that an attempt to be subtly offensive? Tut!

October 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

NiV -

As I know that you're always deeply concerned about the problem of appeal to authority, I thought I should let you know about the following example. Trigger warning: It's a very graphic example of the sort that could put a slippery sloper into a tailspin:

"If you want to go after General Kelly, that is up to you. If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that is something highly inappropriate.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/20/politics/sarah-sanders-john-kelly-press/index.html

October 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"As I know that you're always deeply concerned about the problem of appeal to authority, I thought I should let you know about the following example."

Thanks. But yet again I note that you're taking the opportunity to launch another partisan attack against your ideological enemies. It's a bit of a pattern...

"Trigger warning: It's a very graphic example of the sort that could put a slippery sloper into a tailspin:"

Why on Earth are you giving me 'trigger warnings'?! Why do you think it'll put anyone (me?) into a tailspin?

Technically, yes, it's an appeal to moral authority, and logically invalid. Which is a shame, because I think it would have been a lot more effective and appropriate to respond on the material content.

I've not really followed all the ins and outs of this story - it seems like one of those really trivial 'soap opera' style fights. So far as I can tell, a Democrat congresswoman was present during a condolence call made by the President to the widow of a killed soldier, and chose to use the opportunity to attack Trump politically, making statements that (I hear) turned out to be false. A general got very annoyed about that, and hit back against the congresswoman, mentioning in passing that she was known for political grandstanding previously on inappropriate occasions, and had tried to claim credit for getting some FBI buildings funded. It turns out this was an error - she had actually stood up and claimed credit for getting the buildings named. The Democrat-supporting press then went on to attack him for the error, called him a racist for using the well-known racist term "empty barrel" (?!!), and I think they got annoyed. The Democrat press are not above using Ultimate Moral Authority to shield their attacks on Trump when they want to, but they'll cheerfully attack a general who lost a child himself when he spoke on the proper respect due to soldiers who had given their lives for their country, and their families.

I suspect a Trump-supporter would just see it as another example of Democrats and the Democrat-supporting press being scummy hypocrites, and using yet another tragedy deserving of non-partisan patriotic respect as an opportunity to launch yet another deranged partisan attack on Trump. They would only mourn the lost opportunity to point it out, yet again.

I'm coming to think that the so-called "Bush Derangement Syndrome" has re-emerged in a new form!

But whatever. Appeals to moral authority are a weak (and logically invalid) response, when there are so much better counter-arguments available. See? No tailspin required.

Now, would you like to try talking sensibly for five minutes about any of the subjects we were discussing without inserting unbalanced partisan attacks on your ideological enemies into every example?

October 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

I'll give you this, NiV, that you don't disappoint (with respect to inane responses, although you continue to disappoint w/r/t reasonable engagement).

I offer a tease to your about your slippery sloping and alarmism about appeals to authority, with a reference to an example of an appeal to authority coming from an official representative of the most powerful institution in the world, and you (imo) blather on in reference to same o'l same o'l political gamesmanship - in a (imo) highly partisan fashiion of the exact sort I see daily in Fox News analysis (notably, I suspect not coincidentally using the precisely same syntax as Trump spokespeole - such as "grandstanding" - in defense of Kelly's inane political rhetoric in defense of the grandstander-in-chief).

Now in this case, your (imo) shiny object offering, which suggests that (imo) maybe you're not really that serious about the dangers of appeals to authority, I don't happen to believe that it's really a matter of great concern. Just as I think that your (imo) alarmism about appeals to authority are, well, alarmist, I also think that concerns about Sanders' appeal to authority aren't of much concern. I mean sure, it really is (imo) an example of an appeal to authority, and indeed it is of a sort that coming from the most powerful institution in the world would be very concerning were it backed with real action like someone being actually imprisoned for voicing a dissenting opinion about Kelly's inane press conference.

But, IMO, it's was pretty much just standard political rhetoric, where she probably just got "ahead of her skis" without fully realizing the potential implications of her rhetoric (and, as is the norm these days, doubling-down in defense when she might have simply shown some accountability).

But really, it's quite amusing to see you (imo) pretty much ignore an issue about which you have expressed much concern, to offer a (imo) vapid run-of-the-mill partisan response, to (it is my guess) rationalize an example of that issue about which you have expressed much concern as manifest by the Trump administration. It seems to be a (imo) well-established pattern, although I will admit that I'm a bit confused as to why, you (imo) have such a reflexive habit of defending Trump and his administration. .

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"I offer a tease to your about your slippery sloping and alarmism about appeals to authority, with a reference to an example of an appeal to authority coming from an official representative of the most powerful institution in the world"

It's not the most powerful institution.

"and you (imo) blather on in reference to same o'l same o'l political gamesmanship - in a (imo) highly partisan fashiion of the exact sort I see daily in Fox News analysis"

I see you're getting better with the IMOs! Well done!

Yes, it *is* the same boring old partisan bickering. Which is why I find it so annoying when you serve up a big steaming slice of it every five minutes, and then moan when people offer the standard responses to your bottom-of-the-birdcage rubbish. If you don't want us to play the political games, stop playing them. You're capable of better.

More to the point, when Dan's put in such a lot of effort telling everyone that the big problem with political polarisation and bad policy making on scientific topics is people entangling it with politically toxic memes that prod people into a it's -who-we-are-not-what-we-know response, it's pretty rude to constantly drop this toxic political sniping all over the science on his own blog. I can't think of anything better calculated to discredit cultural cognition as just another lefty-liberal politically-driven attack on Republicans' rationality, than to constantly and selectively use it for that purpose.

Is it that you don't believe Dan when he says we've got to stop mixing science with messages that threaten people's political identity? Or are you deliberately trying to pollute the science communication environment hereabouts with as much politically toxic waste as you can dig up?!

"Now in this case, your (imo) shiny object offering, which suggests that (imo) maybe you're not really that serious about the dangers of appeals to authority"

That's a strawman argument. It's not about the dangers of Appeal to Authority per se. What I was referring to was the use of obviously invalid logical fallacies (of any sort) being used blindly by judges in court cases deciding life-and-death liberty-and-ruin decisions over other people's lives; not accidentally, or as a matter of malfeasance, but as a deliberately chosen policy. It would be like serious people seriously debating whether judges should decide cases in future by reading chicken entrails. The fact that people are seriously discussing it is worrying, not because of the fallacy, but because it's being proposed for use in the courts. (I'm similarly bothered by them using it in schools, because of what it does to the public understanding of science, but even that's not as serious a matter as using it in court.)

The dangers in using invalid methods depend on the weightiness of the decisions you're using them to decide. If generals start using arguments from their own Absolute Moral Authority as generals to decide which countries to invade or which side to shoot, then I'll worry about that too.

" It seems to be a (imo) well-established pattern, although I will admit that I'm a bit confused as to why, you (imo) have such a reflexive habit of defending Trump and his administration."

It's not a reflexive habit to defend Trump. There's quite a lot I disagree with him on. But I do have a reflexive habit of arguing with idiocy. The left-wing media in America have this idea that they're a trusted authority, so they can use that to discredit and destroy Trump by bombarding him with constant inane political attacks - figuring people will think 'there's no smoke without fire'. But instead the effect of which is going to be to destroy their own reputation, and to immunise Trump against any genuine scandals because viewers are going to become confused about whether any of it is real. Keep crying 'Wolf!', and people eventually start ignoring you.

If Trump was a wolf, his best tactic would be to keep poking his nose over the fence every five minutes until everyone gets tired of running to every alarm, and then walk in calmly and snatch up all the sheep. I do seriously think that some reasoning like that is a large part of why he does it.

For anyone who doesn't have an obsessive, hysterical hatred of Trump and his administration, it eventually gets boring. Like anyone else, Trump's not perfect, and as American Presidents and politicians go I don't think he's notably better or worse than any other. But there's something about an especially unhinged obsession with him that makes the contrarian in me want to poke it with a stick. Every time you launch yet another blistering attack on Trump, it makes me want to defend him, just for the fun of watching your reaction to that. :-)

In view of your theories of identity-protective behaviour, you might want to think carefully about that. What better way is there to entrench support for Trump and his approach in the national consciousness than to make it a shibboleth issue, like gun rights or abortion or teaching evolution? If opposition to the Trump approach becomes inextricably identified with the left, like Climate Change, then what respectable Republican will ever again be able to publicly dissent from it?

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

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