Overcoming Bias dot com = Robin Hanson’s group blog on truth discovery and decision rationality

A Web-based “forum”, rather, he says:

To me “forum” connotes that we [CFM: the blogging scholars] are primarily talking to each other, though we don’t mind if others join in to comment or listen.

Blog” to me connotes that we are primarily writing for other people, and we are just sharing the load of putting together something for those readers.

URL: Overcoming Bias dot com

Overcoming Bias

Addendum: Robin Hanson has just posted a comment…

Chris, the picture is a famous painting of Ulysses bound to the mast listening to the Sirens; the rest of the crew has their ears plugged to avoid the severely biased Siren Song. 

What Is The Meaning Of His Blog Header? No idea. I wonder whether his 2005 Marginal Revolution post (”Hanged For Accuracy”) gives us a clue:

I came across an even more dramatic example of such thinking in Dava Sobel’s Longitude (1995:11-12):

Returning home victorious from Gibraltar after skirmishes with the French … the English fleet … discovered to their horror that they had misgauged their longitude … the Scillies became the unmarked tombstones for two thousand of Sir Clowdisley’s troops. [Admiral Sir Clowdisley] had been approached by a sailor, … who claimed to have kept his own reckoning of the fleet’s location during the whole cloudy passage. Such subversive navigation by an inferior was forbidden in the Royal Navy, as the unnamed seaman well knew. However, the danger appeared so enormous, by his calculations, that he risked his neck to make his concerns known to the officers. Admiral Shovell had the man hanged for mutiny on the spot. … In literally hundreds of instances, a vessel’s ignorance of her longitude led swiftly to her destruction.

Even though shipmates had a strong common interest in knowing their longitude, other social incentives apparently prevented them from sharing their information. As a consultant on the use of prediction markets within organizations, I’ve also noticed that managers are often surprisingly uninterested in the prospect of more accurate forecasts and more informed decisions. Could these phenomena have similar explanations?

About Overcoming Bias:

How can we better believe what is true? While it is of course useful to seek and study relevant information, our minds are full of natural tendencies to bias our beliefs via overconfidence, wishful thinking, and so on. Worse, our minds seem to have a natural tendency to convince us we that are aware of and have adequately corrected for such biases, when we have done no such thing.

Overcoming Bias dot com will be authored by 14 (academic or not) scholars. Among them, 5 usual suspects from the field of prediction markets, including the owner of this microscopic little blog (who would do just anything to get linked to by Midas Oracle).

Speaking of bias, is our good doctor Robin Hanson as innocent as Snow White? Let’s take a look at “The Wisdom Of His Crowd“. Here’s an excerpt of the 2005 poll he asked his acquaintances (the author of these lines being one among many) to fill in, so as to discover what could be his next academic project.

Here are the ten main choices as I see them now:

1. Disagreement Book – Expand “Are Disagreements Honest” and related papers into a book, adding new material on data about who is right in real disagreements. I’ve been telling people this is my plan. This could establish my reputation as a deep thinker on a big issue. Fun, as there are still things for me to learn on this topic. No real competition on this topic (as least re the more technical angle), and it is nicely not aligned with an ideology. But not clear this will really change much in the world.

See the key sentence??? “I’VE BEEN TELLING PEOPLE THIS IS MY PLAN.” Ha. ha. ha. Totally biased poll. And, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, of course, that poll gave the option #1 (”the disagreement book”) as the most popular answer. NO WONDER. And so we are here, today, with our Robin Hanson opening a group blog on “overcoming bias”. (The “idea futures book” came as a close #2. Had he suppressed the bias in his poll, we would have had Robin Hanson opening a group blog on prediction markets, today, instead.)

Maybe the first topic of discussion among these 14 luminaries (or so they think they are) should be: How to overcome Robin Hanson’s biased polls?

How To Subscribe To Robin Hanson’s Group Blog:

His Royal Highness publicizes the “RSS 1.0″ site feed, on his right sidebar. It’s an old format; complete crap.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *