Saturday, May 22, 2010

Widespread Irrationality is Ultimately an Incentive Problem

You should check out Lesswrong from time to time. It's a rationality community. I used to pick on it as being essentially a society of people who played with logic puzzles, but their consistent focus on using reason as a better way to live has focused them on important problems and improved the group. Below is the abstract of a recent worthwhile post entitled The Tragedy of the Social Epistemology Commons:

In Brief: Making yourself happy is not best achieved by having true beliefs, primarily because the contribution of true beliefs to material comfort is a public good that you can free ride on, but the signaling benefits and happiness benefits of convenient falsehoods pay back locally, i.e. you personally benefit from your adoption of convenient falsehoods. The consequence is that many people hold beliefs about important subjects in order to feel a certain way or be accepted by a certain group. Widespread irrationality is ultimately an incentive problem.

And by the way, enough Saturday morning blogging. While I was typing this post we had an earthquake, same as last time (5.0+ at the epicenter). Clearly, when I blog on Saturdays, I cause an earthquake.

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