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Thursday
Jun072018

Hey, everybody--come to this cool " 'Hot hand fallacy' fallacy" workshop!

If in or can make it to New Haven next Wed:

 paper here:

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Reader Comments (25)

Jonathan *

How do you react when you read something like this?:

Among whites in particular, liberals tend to see inequality as rooted in society's ills, whereas conservatives tend to see inequality as rooted in individuals’ shortcomings.

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

"How do you react when you read something like this?"

I find it to be a very believable hypothesis, as it is interpreted in that Morin-Chassé paper. I've seen my share of anecdotal cases that conform to it. It also jibes well with other research I've read - such as the just-world and correspondence biases correlating with conservatism.

You might wonder how, since I consider myself a liberal and also am willing to embrace some essentialist views, can I possibly reconcile the inconsistency. I can point to the Pluchino et. al. "Talent vs. Luck" paper as roughly summarizing my personal stance: real world inequality and individual differences don't correlate well, with real world inequality being vastly larger in magnitude and very different in distribution than individual differences. If real world outcomes were normally distributed (around current mean wealth - as a truly proportional meritocracy would do), I think the result would be Utopian compared to what we now have.

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

"real world inequality and individual differences don't correlate well, with real world inequality being vastly larger in magnitude and very different in distribution than individual differences."

That's a very valid point. I'd respond that it's because a one-liner like "conservatives tend to see inequality as rooted in individuals’ shortcomings" vastly oversimplifies the economic theory behind the belief.

The idea behind trade is that we each help others in society in exchange for them helping us, in rough balance, to our mutual benefit. If you expend huge labours and prodigious talent to help one person, they will give you one reward. If you expend no labour and very little talent to help a hundred million people, you get a hundred million rewards in return. Trade doesn't care how clever you are, how virtuous your intentions, or how hard you work, although clearly they all have an influence. All it cares about is the good you actually do for the rest of society, as society measures it.

Where "individuals' shortcomings" come into it is when you ask why are some people poor? Because there's nothing they can do for society that society wants. They don't have the capability, the experience, the training, or the opportunity. All some people can do are simple things that everyone else can do just as easily for themselves. Sometimes it is indeed because of society's ills - there's no infrastructure, or legal framework, or capital for people in poorer societies to work with. And yes, something should be done about that. (There should be equality of opportunity, if not equality of outcome.) But often it's down to people's choices, or their culture. That's not meant as blame or condemnation, just as observation.

I'd say the fundamental difference between the economic philosophies is that (free market) conservatives try to solve poverty by making it possible for poor people to do things they can earn money with, and by making things more efficiently and cheaper so more poor people can afford them. Socialists try to solve inequality (a very different thing) by taking from those who can/do produce for the benefit of society, and giving it to those who can't/don't. The problem being that you take away much of the producers' motivation to help others, and don't enable the non-producers to produce any more, which makes society poorer and messes up the price signals that allow the economy to produce the right amounts of the right goods. All done with the best of intentions, but the method doesn't work.

The conservative overiding value is justice, the liberal overiding value is mercy.

Of course, that's all said from a biased, conservative perspective and I'd not expect those on the left to agree with the analysis! The aim here is common understanding, not necessarily agreement. It's also not something everyone on the right agrees on, just as there are many viewpoints on the left. (In every field of inquiry, it is true that all things should be made as simple as possible – but no simpler.)

For what it's worth - and it's not a widespread conservative view I'll admit - the free market philosophy sees persistent and extreme inequality of outcome as a problem too. It implies that there are certain skills people have that are in critically short supply, and there is some obstruction to creating more people with those skills. The idea of paying people more for doing stuff lots of people want and can't get enough of is to motivate others to go do the same thing. Every job you see that pays more than minimum wage is a job where there is a shortage of people to do it; where there are unfilled jobs. The fundamental problem to be solved is why don't the people earning less go and move into those jobs? That would be the right way to solve inequality.

As Hans Rosling's excellent graphs show, global inequality is reducing rapidly. Strong progress is being made - more than at any other time in human history. But there's clearly still a lot to be done.

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Remember when we had that discussion about why older Americans are more conservative?:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/05/31/because-poor-people-die-younger-in-the-u-s-our-politics-are-more-unequal-than-elsewhere/

non-paywall paper:

http://midus.wisc.edu/findings/pdfs/1757.pdf

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan -

Thanks,

Among whites in particular, liberals tend to see inequality as rooted in society's ills, whereas conservatives tend to see inequality as rooted in individuals’ shortcomings.

I see this construct as losing meaning to the extent that it (1) ignores context or (2) is largely based on a backwards engineering that effectively hides context (specifically, tribal affiliation) more than reveals fundamentally different life views.

I fail to understand why these generalizations about asymmetry between libz and conz views w/r/t inequality should be seen as being more consistently traceable to underlying, core attributes, than libz and conz views on, say, whether Russia is an imminent danger or whether a politician's personal behavior materially impacts their ability to be a good leader.

Are they really matters of a different scale? If so, why?

Perhaps an illustration:

Do conz think that inequality in the power distribution at colleges is rooted in individuals' shortcomings, or in society's ills?

And what about the shift in recent years in how whites view their own likelihood of being victims of discrimination, or unequal treatment? Do they think that they deserved to be treated less well, more recently, than those immigrants who are stealing their jobs or than minorities who get assistance from affirmative action? Do they think that their lowering status is because they've changed over time to be less worthy?

I think of how a number of foreign clients and students I've worked with who have asked me why Americans seem to believe that those who are poor, deserve to be poor. Were they only looking at conz when they formulated that impression?

I think that the way that people try to gather data on these asymmetries are not actually free from contextual references, and so what they're reallyshowing that libz are libz and conz are conz, and that both groups formulate their views on equality according to their tribal orientation. Expressed views on equality don't necessarily reflect core differences, because their is no way to express those views divorced of political undertones (or is it overtones?)

And of course, i am genetically compelled to bring up the question about how this all overlays onto the differences between groups vs. differences within groups matrix. If anything, I am getting more and more confused as to how people formulate conclusions on these matters without such an orientation. I think that is perhaps a corollary to the Pluchino distribution framework?

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan -

As I thought about it more, I started thinking that another aspect is that framing reminds me of the "libz want equality of outcome and conz want equality of opportunity" framing - which I've been seeing so much of lately, and which I consider to be (at least usually) a specious framing (to a detrimental effect)..

So do you think that, also, is a very believable conjecture that conforms to your anecdotal experiences?

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan -

And that article about poor people dying earlier reminded my of another thought about that whole libz/conz/equality thingy.

The whole libz view it this way vs. conz view it that way gets highly distorting when you single out views among whites, only, if you're then going to go back and try to generalize about libz vs. conz more generally (which, is a natural tendency).

My guess is that, at least to some extent, you would get a different distribution if you asked white libz and conz whether they felt that inequality among whites was attributable to society's ills or individual shortcomings.

Again, I think that many non-Americans I've worked with (particularly Asians) are much more inclined to think that poverty is a matter of fate - and less to think of it as a matter of individual shortcomings or even as a matter of society's ills.

If these truly are foundational differences in the psychology of libz vs. conz. what would explain a different distribution cross-culturally (assuming I'm right)?

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

"I fail to understand why these generalizations about asymmetry between libz and conz views w/r/t inequality should be seen as being more consistently traceable to underlying, core attributes, than libz and conz views on, say, whether Russia is an imminent danger or whether a politician's personal behavior materially impacts their ability to be a good leader."

Nothing about that Among whites in particular... hypothesis suggests to me that the author is suggesting it is more consistently traceable to underlying, core attributes. I think, for the purposes of the article, all that matters is that this characterization is considered to hold well today in the US. It doesn't have to historically, or elsewhere. And, there is no requirement that it holds because it is traceable to core attributes. As with those other things you mentioned, it could be another case of follow the tribal leaders.

So, I agree that particular contexts would change the characterization. Why are former coal miners in WVa poor? Ask certain conservatives, and they might answer that the institutional forces impacting the coal industry are responsible. But, the article is about race - and I'm not sure I can come up with a similarly acting context in that case.

I agree that "equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome" is a specious framing, and pretty obviously false on both accounts. I don't know any libs who would want Martin Shkreli to have the same outcome as Norman Borlaug. And the conz I've talked to about it don't want equality of opportunity to mean similar school funding and no inherited wealth.

June 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

"I agree that "equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome" is a specious framing, and pretty obviously false on both accounts."

It's another level of approximation, yes. "All models are wrong..."

June 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

NiV,

It's another level of approximation, yes. "All models are wrong..."

How the model is used should matter. Consider a model used for understanding and prediction vs. one used for straw-manning opposition. A model used for prediction might be very practical and accurate, despite being formally wrong. A model used for straw-manning is being deliberately used to rhetorically induce opposition to defend a position they don't have - in a discourse collaborative sense, it is used to prevent accurate prediction and practicality. In the case of "equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome", this is often introduced into discourse as a way to iron-man the conservative position and simultaneously straw-man the liberal position.

June 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

....but some are useful

So then the question becomes..."Useful for what?"

Consider a model used for ... straw-manning opposition. ...


IOW, some models are useful for straw-manning the opposition.

I wouldn't say that the "equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome" model couldn't be useful as an abstracted model, or even that it couldn't be useful as a model for exploring the differences between conz and libz. As a model it lays out a useful oppositional framework.

Unfortunately, in my experience anyway, its rarely (in fact I've never seen it) used in such an exploratory fashion (as opposed to being used for the rhetorical, tribal purposes).

Thus...specious...

June 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan -

I think, for the purposes of the article, all that matters is that this characterization is considered to hold well today in the US.

I guess I'm asking whether it really holds well...that "white liberals tend to see inequality as rooted in society's ills, whereas conservatives tend to see inequality as rooted in individuals’ shortcomings.

...as I'm not sure that's really a valid general pattern.

IOW, I think it may be that in the current political context in the U.S., asking the question in a generic context: "Do you think that inequality is better explained by society's ills or individual shortcomings?" - there is an implied context.

Again, if you ask white conservatives whether coal minors are poor because of individual shortcomings or because of society's ills, the general pattern being described as a distinction between libz and conz may not hold very well. I wouldn't even be surprised whether, if you specify context, we might not find libz shifting somewhat towards assigning responsibility for inequality to individual shortcomings (i.e., working class whites fail to prosper because they're set in their racist ways...)

June 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"A model used for straw-manning is being deliberately used to rhetorically induce opposition to defend a position they don't have - in a discourse collaborative sense, it is used to prevent accurate prediction and practicality."

What, like "Among whites in particular, liberals tend to see inequality as rooted in society's ills, whereas conservatives tend to see inequality as rooted in individuals’ shortcomings" was?! :-)

The problem is that neither side entirely understands the other's position, and always interprets matters according to its own worldview - often without realising it. That was precisely why I said what I did about speaking with a conservative bias. You presented a story with a liberal slant. I presented the same story with a conservative slant. You complained that my story had a conservative slant. Of course it does! That's the point! And I can't unpack every nuance of an entire multi-layered belief system to cover every possible case in one short comment. (Although I often try!)

"Equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome" was in this case being used to argue for the supposed liberal position - that where the difference was due to society's ills, i.e. that there was a difference of opportunity, then this should be fixed. In other words, I was ascribing the so-called conservative "equality of opportunity" principle to the liberal "society's ills" side of the argument! How is this a strawman of liberals, unless you are claiming that liberals indeed *don't* agree with equality of opportunity? Or that they don't agree it is a societal ill? It's certainly a strawman to say that conservatives don't believe in society's ills, when they recognise the societal ill of unequal opportunity!

Sometimes it is indeed because of society's ills - there's no infrastructure, or legal framework, or capital for people in poorer societies to work with. And yes, something should be done about that. (There should be equality of opportunity, if not equality of outcome.)

Do you see what I mean?

Unfortunately, the fight has been going on so long that most people assume others are fighting whenever they use the lexicon of the other side, even when they're not. :-)

June 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

NiV,

I think there's a misunderstanding going on here...

In regards to our tussle over "equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome" - I was agreeing with Joshua that, in as much as the framing from that paper tends to bring to mind this particular rhetorical device, it's not very helpful. I didn't think Joshua was mentioning this as a result of anything you wrote, NiV. I had also thought your statement about models was being made in reference to the paper, not in reference to what you wrote.

"Unfortunately, the fight has been going on so long that most people assume others are fighting whenever they use the lexicon of the other side, even when they're not." -- well said!


Back to the Morin-Chassé paper: the "Among whites in particular..." statement isn't meant as much of a straw-man, or any other kind of argument. It's in the abstract, and is quickly followed by the statement "We argue that genetic explanations for racial inequality, in and of themselves, offer little appeal to white conservatives.". If anything, this is a case of: "So, you might think it's this simple - well, it's not!". This device is meant to boost interest in the paper itself. An academic paper's abstract is not an argument. It's a form of clickbait.

June 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan. -

I did find what followed the abstract to be quite interesting.

June 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan -

You might find this interesting - a discussion of the logos that goes into a good (IMO) if rather cursory (IMO) discussion of Peterson.

https://youtu.be/FJr9_zGqOPU

June 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Anti-vaxxers still winning in various spots in US:

http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002578

June 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Joshua,

Will definitely watch that (am a Pugliucci fan) after Sox day-game (priorities!)

BTW: saw a Peterson interview of Pinker recently (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kUuURByaXc) that was somewhat comical at one point late in the interview: after Peterson agrees with everything Pinker has to say, Peterson tries to get Pinker to discuss some of Peterson's own theories about the importance of pre-Enlightenment ideas, and gets nowhere fast (Pinker gives him the old "1000 years of nothing much!" line). So, they return quickly to talking up Pinker's ideas. A sad instance of unrequited bromance.

June 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

538 is starting a weekly identity politics column:

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/lets-talk-about-identity-and-politics/

June 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

am reading some things about ambiguity tolerance vs. risk tolerance, and spotted this (MTurk trigger warning):

Personality, politics, and denial: Tolerance of ambiguity, political
orientation and disbelief in climate change

Science concerning anthropogenic climate change is fairly new which may push low TA (tolerance of ambiguity) individuals towards more familiar explanations like the earth warming due to natural fluctuations in the weather. It is also possible low TA people reject scientific explanations because they tend to be complex and lack definitive conclusions. Scientists communicate in terms of available evidence and probabilities which may, because of its ambiguous nature, be repellent to low TA individuals.

June 15, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Actively open-minded thinking vs. motivated reasoning:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494418302834

Our results provide a very different picture of AOT's relationship to climate beliefs than the polarizing relationship found by Kahan and Corbin (2016). However, we still cannot be sure exactly why AOT is related to beliefs about the human causation of climate change. Our empirical results are consistent with several potential explanations that would have very different implications for our understanding of how AOT affects beliefs about science. The positive relationship between AOT and climate beliefs for liberals is problematic for our understanding of how AOT works. If our theoretical predictions were accurate, and high-AOT liberals attended to more arguments skeptical of global warming than low-AOT liberals, why would this make them more likely to believe in human-caused global warming?

June 15, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Dypoon - if reading this, kindly note I replied to your Daoism question on the thread on which you asked it.

Jonathan - there is no contradiction, express or implied, in the question you pose re AOT.
"....If our theoretical predictions were accurate, and high-AOT liberals attended to more arguments skeptical of global warming than low-AOT liberals, why would this make them more likely to believe in human-caused global warming?"

The answer - from my camp, at any rate - consists of dividing "liberals" into 3 groups: 1., the genuinely ignorant (innumerate/illiterate). 2., The ones who are both literate and numerate but suffering from an optical illusion attributable to what George Soros called "reflexivity", a little-known but very useful concept, he mistakenly attributes to Popper. 3., The ones both literate and numerate who deliberately skate over inconvenient details, aka the dishonest.

All 3 groups meet the AOT test in your question.

Here's an example:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/06/15/study-charts-change-hearts-and-minds-better-than-words-do/?utm_term=.c0fc761e1d9a

How many of those taking the test even noticed the temperature chart is in Celsius? How many can manage the quick conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit? Of those, anyone has heard of the Kelvin scale? Assuming anyone is left after passing 1,2,3, how many noted that start year is 1940, a laughably short time period considering the earth' s climate changes? Finally, of those who did, how many can pronounce with certainty that any change involving decimal points of a degree Centigrade is anything else but evidence for remarkable stability of average planet temperatures, AND know the mechanism by which said averages were computed prior to satellite data availability, which most certainly did not exist in 1940? I doubt more than a handful of quantitative experts would be left in the sample - but there's no telling unless Messrs Nyhan and Rifler run the experiment again.

Then the alleged misperception of Obama-years v current unemployment rate: that really shows they should have asked someone familiar with Bureau of Labor statistics. If they had, they would know people don't care about the unemployment rate per se, they care about the total employment rate, which is to be found here:
https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12000000

Allowing for population growth from 2008 to today, it clear that the employment rate never even recovered from the level Obama inherited until the day he left office. As to Obama's legitimacy, most people of the right do believe he was lawfully elected twice, but then went on to govern unconstitutionally as a king, using executive fiat. "A republic, Madam, if you can keep it." Benjamin Franklin's words upon leaving the Constitutional Convention ring down the ages.

Now I don't like to suggest anyone cited here is either wholly ignorant or a deliberate fraud, which leaves the screening test I just outlined mandatory for AOT and the latest Nyhan/Reifler study as an experiment not yet run.

June 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Birkenau, sorry typo.

June 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

PS the typo refers to a different post, which does not appear here right now, but was copied on my email. Presumably it will show up in the biblical fullness of time.

June 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

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