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People who jump to conclusions show other kinds of thinking errors (scientificamerican.com)
160 points by pseudolus 3 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 143 comments



"Jumpers," as described mostly just lacked a fear of consequences of being wrong and were presented with an incentive to guess. Not to be conspiratorial, but one can't help but notice a recent preoccupation in mainstream outlets with pathologizing conspiracy theorists, dissenters, and now, "jumpers."

Referencing Khaneman and Tversky's "system 1 and system 2" from their bestseller Thinking Fast and Slow without crediting it seems to be more about avoiding the scrutiny that would draw, and instead, appearing authoritative with statements about how ancient psychological researchers commonly distinguish between these types of thought. We should even be concerned someone who could be a "jumper," may also have schizophrenia, as our thinking may have applications to that.

Maybe it's interesting, or maybe on closer inspection and thoughtful consideration it resembles propaganda to ignore your instincts, trust the narrative, and provides blunt tools for being suspicious of others who don't. If only most people were smart and comfortable enough to jump to conclusions and then course correct as needed, we could avoid the consequences of groupthink by those who fear criticism above all.


I've always felt like the belief in a large group of "conspiracy theorists" is probably one of the biggest "conspiracy theories".

A friend of a relative is an apparent flat earther - my relative is always saying things like "oh you wouldn't believe what this guy thinks, he says the world is actually shaped like a UN map, what a goof". In this situation, which of the two is actually the more gullible? From the situations I hear described, it's pretty clear the guy just likes to tease, and enjoys the "intellectual exercise" - for some value of intellectual - of tearing down commonly held truths by providing alternatives, even if they are silly. I've seen the same thing with moon landing and 9/11. People like to use these as strawmen about look at all the nuts out there, we need to control what people can read, but this is just an excuse for shutting down opinions they don't like.


> From the situations I hear described, it's pretty clear the guy just likes to tease, and enjoys the "intellectual exercise"

This was the default assumption for plenty of people when they first hear about real flat earthers, but unfortunately it appears to quickly devolve into actual, very firm beliefs for many people.

This whole phenomenon of "LARPing" your way into a conspiracy (I'm going to start posting about the Jewish cabal controlling the world because it's "edgy," it triggers people online, and it's a fun intellectual exercise to see if I can gather as many pieces of evidence as possible) and then actually believing it seems to honestly explain how a lot of these conspiracy theories end up gaining so much momentum.


It's hard to get into peoples' heads, but in my experience, I've known people who were into conspiracy X, but did not want to admit that they believe in conspiracy X at first, so they told their friends that they were just joking, being edgy or learning more about it, etc.

After a while, they just grow tired of keeping up appearances, or maybe a famous person talks about conspiracy X, so they are no longer embarrassed by their belief, etc.


It's a common misconception that other people think alike oneself, and that everybody think rationally. As always, it depends.


> but unfortunately it appears to quickly devolve into actual, very firm beliefs for many people.

Is it possible to quantify "many people"? Like, what percentage of people that are ostensibly flat earthers are actually genuine flat earthers vs. trolls? I would guess trolls make up the majority of internet flat earthers.


Trying to ascribe the intent of an action rather than focusing on the action itself is part of the problem in this circumstance. It's impossible to know how many are sincere, or how many are trolls pretending to be sincere, or how many are sincere but are pretending to be trolls so as to plausibly deny their sincere beliefs, etc. At the end of the day, the intent doesn't matter. If one is in a public forum (especially an anonymous/pseudonymous public forum) then the only thing to judge is one's actions, not their intentions, and if their actions are deliberately stupid, then we must assume they are simply stupid, and not merely pretending to be stupid. This approach obviously has problems, but there's no other tractable solution. The internet (especially Poe's Law) has killed satire.


Flat earther trolls that I saw didn't look sincere or stupid, they looked ironic.


"Irony", or what passes for it these days, is too often a deliberate tactic to equivocate a sincere belief while retaining plausible deniability. Unless they deliberately call out their comments with something like an explicit sarcasm tag, we are forced to assume they are sincere.


In my culture irony equivocates amusement, not sincere belief.


This may simply be a function of your inability to believe that they could be sincere.

There are without question plenty of "real" flat earthers our there. People willing to spend actual money on experiments doomed to fail. People cutting ties with their families because they don't agree with them.

When we read people espousing flat earth views on YouTube or Reddit or wherever, out natural assumption is to think that they must be trolling, because nobody could be that stupid, but in fact there really is a subculture that does.


You want to say irony must be imagined and can't be seen?


You are being way too charitable. While there certainly are people that fall into the category you claim... there are many who are full blown Jewish space laser, government ice wall, lizard people shadow government, 5g microchip tracker crazies.


The entire "Jewish space laser" thing was never actually said. She mentioned names of people who are Jewish, but that terminology/connection was made by the media. Nothing she said illuminated this connection in any way.

Was her point grounded in reality? Hell no. But the exact point being made above is highlighted by your comment.

Her original post: https://politizoom.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Greene-las....


The phenomenon of the exaggerations of "Jewish space lasers" and "horse paste" is an interesting topic.

There's a perfectly reasonable point to be made in each case, but many of the people making it feel the need to overstate the case and make it even more absurd.

I think it's because mockery spreads faster on the internet than a simple debunking. And so the thing being debunked is turned into its most extreme form. Perhaps even a step or two beyond a valid interpretation of what's being asserted by the subject.

So with the Mockery Maximization Principle, you get a meme that can spread very quickly and discredit the target at the same time.

The problem with this technique is that it can backfire if people start repeating it as what was actually being asserted. For example, the horse paste meme has backfired when it came to Rogan and the CNN doctor. When this happens, now the debunkers are on the defensive and they don't have a great way out of it since they're no longer on the side of accuracy and truth.


> Mockery Maximization Principle

That's a great term.


Let's go Brandon!


> The problem with this technique is that it can backfire if people start repeating it as what was actually being asserted. For example, the horse paste meme has backfired when it came to Rogan and the CNN doctor. When this happens, now the debunkers are on the defensive and they don't have a great way out of it since they're no longer on the side of accuracy and truth.

This is the problem with tribal audiences. CNN can say to its audience (mainly older liberals) that ivermection is horse paste, and face no repercussions. Conformity is so valued by society as a whole, that no one is going to stand up for the truth on CNN itself. But then in those brief moments when the outside world comes in, their bluff is called.

The right does it as well, and your mockery maximization principle (great name BTW) mandates that the meme is produced solely for their primary audience to sell clicks.


To me, “Jewish space lasers” is a slight hyperbole of the kind of rubbish we read from low-efforts trolls. I’ve obviously read about Marjorie Taylor-Green, but not being American I missed this gem.

That one could write that she did not quite say that, instead of the sane universe’s version that she did not say anything remotely like it truly is shocking. And horrifying.


"but that terminology/connection was made by the media"

She put enough of her thoughts and 'research' into her post that it was a 'dog whistle' for like-minded-thinkers.

You do not always have to explicitly say something, to actually say something...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_whistle_(politics)


No. This is a rationalization for a belief that is incorrect.


It can be both. Typically one doesn't need to rationalize publically - by posting this thing to a large enough audience, this was past the point of rationalization - but was instead performative and seeking agreement/attention and acknowledgment.

And rather than stating the incorrect belief explicitly, she was using dog-whistle rhetoric techniques.


Again, you're rationalizing. You're making assumptions about her intent without any evidence to the contrary. This sort of thinking is the exact problem. You're finding your own conclusion, accepting it as fact, and then (in the case of the media) promoting that as what took place. That's a lie, no matter how you twist it.


The lie is pretending that people who post statements on a platform like Twitter and have a wide-spread audience or follower-base do not have any intent.

The lie is pretending that someones' written words are not actually enough evidence to show their intent.

The lie is pretending that statements exist completely isolated from any cultural or historical context. Marjorie Taylor Green has a well documented history of making very controversial statements.

The lie is ignoring the fact that time and time again conspiracy theorists keep bringing up the same scapegoats. Perhaps you are simply unaware that historically, attempting to link things with "Rothschild" is a very long-standing anti-semetic conspiracy and a known dog whistle.


> The lie is pretending that people who post statements on a platform like Twitter and have a wide-spread audience or follower-base do not have any intent.

Assumption.

> The lie is pretending that someones' written words are not actually enough evidence to show their intent.

Assumption.

> The lie is pretending that statements exist completely isolated from any cultural or historical context. Marjorie Taylor Green has a well documented history of making very controversial statements.

Assumption.

> The lie is ignoring the fact that time and time again conspiracy theorists keep bringing up the same scapegoats.

Generalization.

---

You're desperate to align reality with your opinion and offering nothing but characters attacks and assumptions as argumentation.


Ditto. Wether someone is "insincere" or not matters less when one can judge their words and actions.


Looks like we got one of the conspiracy theorist conspiracy theorists. /s


Yeah, I dunno. My mother-in-law picked up bona fide crazy beliefs when she started using Youtube about 4 years ago. She started with "Proof the world is going to end in 2018/19" videos that she would email me, then moved into some kind of weird anti-CCP guo wengui / steve bannon phase, and currently watches a daily update from "restored republic" which is basically a monotone voice explaining all sorts of crazy shit (energy and internet will soon be free, mass arrests are happening, president trump is taking control of the military, we're going to have a quantum banking system and everyone will get free money back that the vatican stole from the US through the federal reserve, ...)

This isn't a strawman intellectual exercise. If we're in the car and talking about charging it, she will excitedly bring up how electricity will be free soon and laugh when we suggest that's a load of bull. She chose to not get vaccinated because she believes the vaccine was engineered to make you more susceptible to the "next virus" that the CCP is planning to release.

I don't really understand how she can possibly believe so much drivel, but she tunes in for her update every day, and this is the only "news" she cares about.

edit: just to be clear, the "free energy" thing isn't about government subsidizing electricity, it's about a device that nikola tesla invented that creates electricity from nothing but was suppressed for generations by the rich and powerful vested interests of the fossil fuel industry.


Something like this happened on Reddit, with the /r/the_donald subreddit. At first it was jokes at expense of the man, then it transformed into jokingly supporting his presidency. Then it became some quasi-intellectual support of his presidency. Then it became actual non-ironic serious support of his presidency through memes. And then when it actually happened, it became a sort of cult worship site that was eventually banned for supporting the more extreme viewpoints that have been attributed to his supporters.

I like the idea of intellectual exercise, and I enjoyed reading the sub when it was just fun and games. I stopped reading it when they started to seriously support his election. But people for sure lose themselves in the delusions, especially if some part of it connects to them. It's like some sort of cheat code into their minds. I have friends who fell to the QAnon situation. If you told them 5 years ago that our government officials were satanic ritualistic baby eaters, they'd laugh you out of the room and tell you to have another beer. It doesn't really work that way. No way in any serious debate could you ever convince them of this. But now, after they've fell down the rabbit hole some of them seriously unironically believe these things could actually be true.

It's like they saying goes: If you open up your mind too much, your brains will fall out.


I wonder to what degree anybody's mind changed in that subreddit, as opposed to the individuals being replaced with others of different beliefs. That's always a question when people attribute a collective with beliefs and other similar characteristics. The 'collective' is an ever-shifting amalgamation of different individuals.


That's an interesting narrative framing. I'm reading Berger[1] at the moment and of course the social reproduction of knowledge is a component of the work. Pg. 76-77(in the linked copy) parallel your description of this process though on a longer timescale. In social media spaces, the playfulness and joking nature of the progenitors, becomes habituated, and eventually institutionalized over time.

What's surprising is the speed at which this happens. In Berger's conceptualization is that this happens over the course of lifetimes, while in the social media space, this happens over the course of months.

My final point is that this is the reason why "jokes"[2] are insidious. They will attract people who earnestly believe they aren't just jokes which normalizes harassment.

[1] The Social Construction of Reality. Berger, Peter http://perflensburg.se/Berger%20social-construction-of-reali...

[2] A specific kind of harassment designed to habituate abuse while also taking advantage of plausible deniability by ostensibly also being a "joke".


I think that was a great example of; 'normalization of deviance' - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normalization_of_deviance


Maybe it's LARPing or "intellectual exercise" for some, but for many if not most, it's their reality. I've personally tried to reason with some - it is truly and deeply a waste of time.

They literally cannot see beyond their own senses, e.g., want to see for themselves the curvature of the earth, yet they believe that it is the case that every one of the billions of photos of the earth from space or high altitude is faked, but won't believe that people can go to space.

The psychological research that seems to best explain it is that these people prefer to believe that the world is full of and controlled by an evil secret cabal than live in the reality of a world that is deeply random and uncertain.


Not disagreeing, but I think this idea of theorists believing there are hidden patterns as an impotent attempt to impose control on a random and uncertain world falls into its own categorical/binary/blackandwhite trap that also overlooks complexity.

Someone seeing periodicity or even symmetry, fractal self simlarity, or isomorphic structure in something noisy could just as easily be accused of apophenia until they produce proof. That there is structure in the noise matters to the theorist, but to the hegemon it's unimportant, if not subversive and dangerous.

I prefer to look at it as having to do with how people relate to power and truth and how they perecieve it.


Yes, I kind of gave the research short shrift summarizing it in half a sentence. IIRC, they found quite strong correlations between intolerance for uncertainty and conspiracy thinking.

I'm not sure it conflicts, and likely even correlates well with your view of how people relate to power and truth.

Whatever the root cause is relatively unimportant, until an aspiring authoritarian starts herding those who have trouble with objective reality - creates support for a regime that will constrain the rest of us.


Read the conspiracy subreddit and get back with us.


The conspiracy subreddit gets discredited for the random stuff that gets posted on there, which ought to be expected since they do little moderation.

On several key points, the conspiracy subreddit has been correct. For example, in March 2020, they accurately predicted the course of covid, namely that vaccines would be developed, that there would be large-scale hesitancy, and that this would be used to justify the keeping of covid lockdowns / masking requirements / eviction moratoria far beyond the stated 15 days. Regardless of your belief in whether this was justified or not, this happened.

Similarly, the subreddit was correct about things later revealed by edward snowden.

Of course the next post will be about lizard people, but frankly, that doesn't mean we ought to discount the well thought out, presented, and reasonable 'conspiracies' that get trotted out there. Some of them actually happen.

It's just a bad place to trust, because they do no moderation. On the other hand, the places that do moderate are always behind on the things that end up being true.


Go outside and get back to us.


> we need to control what people can read

Why do we need that? I find this type of control suffocating and it is just a patch for deeper seated problems, mistrust of authority for example.


I wrote "People like to use these as strawmen about look at all the nuts out there, we need to control what people can read"

The grammar was very poor. I meant the "look at all the nuts out there, we need to control what people can read" as the false conclusion that might be drawn by someone who believes conspiracy theories are rampant.


Fair enough


I think the people falling for conspiracy theories are thoroughly demoralized. They are so far in the rabbit hole that they cannot even acknowledge reality any longer. That won't be fixed by stopping people to read things. I think it will only add to the underlying mistrust and make it worse.

You need to find out why that happened and fix that.


"Reality" is so huge and so opaque, it often feels like there aren't any answers only more questions. We're hairless apes on a rock hurtling through endless space, reality is terrifying.

I imagine a lot of these people just want/need something to cling to , because even the conspiracy theory sometimes seems more real then reality.


I don't understand why "conspiracy theorists" are so discredited. Conspiracy is a crime and people are charged with it often if not every day. It's essentially a coordinated effort by any group to do something others disapprove of. Pretty much any human organization with is capable of it.

It doesn't take long to find evidence of truly outlandish conspiracies perpetrated by the US government itself. Dosing citizens with drugs in an attempt to control their minds. Exposing citizens to radiation on purpose without their knowledge or consent in order to study the effects, measurably causing increased rates of cancer in that population. Anyone can find stuff like this just randomly browsing wikipedia. Yet somehow we're supposed to disbelieve when "theorists" speak?

I've also concluded there's people out there who want to discredit these "theorists" in any way possible. Abusing science and medicine to do it? Why not? They must be mentally ill, right? All those insane ideas must be evidence that something is literally wrong with their cognition. Their brains must be scrambled or something. Schizophrenia? Throw in words like paranoia and suddenly people will agree that maybe we should involuntarily institutionalize these people. Put them on medication to calm them down. Yeah.

Paranoia is not a symptom when they really are after you. I don't understand how anyone can accuse people of paranoia in the 21st century when we know there are a hundreds of government agencies out there spying on literally everyone on the planet at all times. We know they conspire to do all sorts of completely unacceptable actions. We know they always deny the truth afterwards for as long as they can get away with.

Some people have silly beliefs like flat earth. That's just wrong and it's safe to ignore them. The problem is when people raising perfectly legitimate concerns about COVID-19 vaccines are dismissed as anti-vaxxers. The truth is their risk-benefit profiles are not fully known at this time, scientists are still studying their effects. It's absolutely possible that some vaccine has higher risks than benefits. Yet people saying anything that isn't glowing support for vaccination get moderated on social media for spreading disinformation.


> It doesn't take long to find evidence of truly outlandish conspiracies perpetrated by the US government itself. Dosing citizens with drugs in an attempt to control their minds. Exposing citizens to radiation on purpose without their knowledge or consent in order to study the effects, measurably causing increased rates of cancer in that population. Anyone can find stuff like this just randomly browsing wikipedia. Yet somehow we're supposed to disbelieve when "theorists" speak?

I have become more skeptical of bashing of "conspiracy theorists", and rapid mislabeling from numerous experiments gone awry, due to great examples of crazy things in government like Operation Midnight Climax [1]

>The problem is when people raising perfectly legitimate concerns about COVID-19 vaccines are dismissed as anti-vaxxers. The truth is their risk-benefit profiles are not fully known at this time, scientists are still studying their effects. It's absolutely possible that some vaccine has higher risks than benefits. Yet people saying anything that isn't glowing support for vaccination get moderated on social media for spreading disinformation.

I think this had to do with Science-as-a-process vs "Scientism". When you treat science as a methodology it works great, because I truly believe science is regularly self-correcting, even if the correction period is in centuries. But, when science becomes mixed with narrative truth, painted through a partisan lense, or a dogma, then we devolve into something out of Frankenstein. Or, perhaps, better, The Fly.

[1] https://archives.sfweekly.com/sanfrancisco/operation-midnigh...


Because most of it is absence of critical thinking and facts. There are many real conspiracies, but they become real when backed by facts for the allegations.


Yeah. I'm not saying we shouldn't exercise some healthy skepticism when dealing with new ideas. However, there seems to be such a widespread stereotype plaguing these people saying they shouldn't even be given the time of day. They even create conspiracionist characters in movies. Dude is always treated as some funny nutjob even when they're right.

The US is a country with documented examples of doctors injecting microorganisms into unsuspecting patients. There's a truly astounding list of unethical scientific experiments performed there on wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unethical_human_experimentatio...

So I don't fault americans for assuming there's some kind of conspiracy behind vaccines and I would most certainly not be surprised if they turned out to be right. I don't fault them for not trusting doctors, especially psychiatrists. I've read some truly horrifying stories.


Just stop entertaining generalizations, and do some research to back up claims.


Yeah, I agree with you with the fact that there have been conspiracies. They do exist. And I agree with you on the 'obvious' looney tunes ones but what I don't agree with you on is your emotional fear of vaccines. There is not conspiracy there.


I'm not afraid of vaccines. I took two shots of coronavac. I'm not being "emotional" either. Pointing out the fact that these things are still being studied is information. It's possible that these things have risks we don't know about. It's possible that some vaccines only have favorable risk/benefit in certain populations such as the elderly. All doctors I know are reporting cases correlated with COVID-19 vaccination.

People should be able to make informed decisions with regards to these vaccines, not get manipulated into taking them because governments are desperate to contain the situation.


You can say that about anything. It's better to point out real concerns. There always are, than unknown unknowns that doesn't really tell anybody anything real.

The vaccines have side effects, though are regarded as a very safe method. It's very targeted, as broad corona vaccines are not deemed to be good. Medical experts know this much better.


> Not to be conspiratorial, but one can't help but notice a recent preoccupation in mainstream outlets with pathologizing conspiracy theorists, dissenters, and now, "jumpers."

No conspiracies needed. QAnon type conspiracies are more visible than ever (as they get blown up on social media) and personally I've seemed to notice a pretty big uptick in 'uncle so and so went off the deep end so we had to cut off communication' type stories.

This increase in attention feeds news stories about conspiracy adherents (and anybody that can be lumped in with them, even if it's not warranted).

> maybe on closer inspection and thoughtful consideration it resembles propaganda to ignore your instincts, trust the narrative, and provides blunt tools for being suspicious of others who don't

This is almost all "news" nowadays. Antifa is running the left, QAnon is running the right, somebody is out to get you and ruin the American way of life and we're going to tell you who the bad people are if you just tune in for our next segment.


> I've seemed to notice a pretty big uptick in 'uncle so and so went off the deep end so we had to cut off communication' type stories.

I wonder how long that sort of cutting off has been happening in the past. I know there are members of my extended family I don’t associate with due to their crazy beliefs, but I haven’t talked about it.


My personal opinion is that the pandemic offered a unique opportunity for hidden 'crazy beliefs' to expose themselves.

If Uncle Bob in 2017 believed that the federal reserve was run by a cabal hoarding 90% of our tax money to enrich themselves, nobody would really care unless he feels the need to bring it up in every conversation to the detriment of normal human interaction.

If Uncle Bob in 2020 believes that, he probably also believes that the cabal is using masks to control the population, which causes an immediate conflict when he insists on going unmasked everywhere, including visits to elderly grandma. And then in 2021 that belief probably gets extended to vaccines.

In other words, the pandemic offered a unique opportunity for conspiracy theories to conflict with day-to-day life in a way that wasn't true before the pandemic.


This is an interesting one because the pandemic policy response divide is right on the line where it created an unlikely coaltion of superstitious villagers, with 2+ stddev intelligence people in the habit of checking their priors and rejecting perceived obvious untruths. To extend the metaphor, perhaps it's a coalition of people beyond a stddev in both directions, who together form a huge cohort, if not even potentially a small majority. They share the same sentiments and instincts about concreteness and untruth, but have radically different tools to express it.

What broke pandemic policy is it was run by people who believe sincerely that they need to deceive people for their own good. It's the maternalism of noble lies. While there is a lot of uncertainty in policy circles about science and truth, there is very little uncertainty about power, and when you have that, truth is what you say it is.

The policy response is absolutely using the crisis as leverage to ensconce measures that would not have been legally or politically possible without it. The only meaningful question (I think) is whether the people behind the policies and supporting them are protagonists or antagonists. Almost nobody is asking, "wait, are we the baddies?" The reason "the banality of evil," is such a controversial idea is it places more intellectual and moral responsibility on each of us than the long tail of people are willing or able to accept, and so it's easier to attack the person with the idea than clear the bar it implies.

That's not conspiratorial, that's critical, and I'm sympathetic to people accused of conspiracy thinking because we've let the culture conflate those - to whose benefit is left as an exercise to the reader. ;)


Discussing pandemic policy here is off-topic, but going back to my previous post:

> This increase in attention feeds news stories about conspiracy adherents (and anybody that can be lumped in with them, even if it's not warranted).

Emphasis on the last bit: whether your contrarian position is "+2 sigma" (as you state) or -2 sigma, you will definitely be lumped in with the other group by some targeted news program.

> to whose benefit is left as an exercise

To everyone's detriment really. Every accuser is also accused. Mainstream news these days is as much a target of conspiracies as they are accusers of conspiracy theorists. So too are leftists, rightists, contrarians, and of course actual conspiracy theorists. Everyone is accusing everyone else of something, to a net negative on society.

Every leftist is accused of marxism, every conservative accused of white supremacy, and so on. It's a miserable state of affairs with no nuance or productive discussion. Even the platforms (Facebook et al) that promulgate the inflammation of public discourse are themselves increasingly under fire by both sides of the aisle for various reasons to the point that both breaking up tech companies or heavily regulating their platforms are regularly discussed and promoted by lawmakers (ie Facebook and family face existential threats because they are so accused of poisoning the well, which well they have done to be fair but that's really just the nature of social media).


So we're not talking past each other, your example of conspiracy uncles was attitudes toward masks, which is pandemic policy, so it is precisely on topic as an example.

Conspiracy theories are rooted in (if not defined as) the logic of uncharitable interpretations, and I'm saying the source of that is whether the subject of the theory is viewed as a protagonist or antagonist. Conflating the dumb and the smart in that stddev/sigma view is an artifact of that uncharitable thinking as well, where the average person has been trained to think the common are stupid and the exceptional are insane.

Optimistically, we can dislodge that, and I'd emphasize this uncharitable cognitive bias as the source of the divide.


> he probably also believes

The entire problem. You're not speaking to this person to figure out what they actually believe, you're forming a belief based on your own assumption.


This is a hypothetical person, so no, I am not speaking to the hypothetical person.

My point is that IF uncle bob's belief system segued into beliefs about masks and vax, then it becomes more visible and causes conflict with family members who didn't give a shit about the previous belief system; not that all conspiracies will necessarily turn into beliefs about masks and vax.


It seems to me that there's been an uptick in cutting off family members because it sends a social signal to those you're speaking with that you're the kind of person that only cavorts with rational people. Given how individualistic america is today, cutting off your family for 'rationality's sake is seen as a good thing, whereas to most cultures, this is seen as utterly horrific.

Well that and the preponderance of cutting off hypothetical family members.


>It seems to me that there's been an uptick in cutting off family members because it sends a social signal to those you're speaking with that you're the kind of person that only cavorts with rational people.

It seems to me there has been an uptick in people wrongly assuming someone else's attempts to fix a problem are all down to social signalling.


haha touche.


> lacked a fear of consequences of being wrong

This is interesting. It used to be that some of the people we're discussing, let's use flat-earthers as an example, were just really, really committed to their idea. It was their whole identity and persona, and they would just never be able to accept anything different. This seems to me to be the opposite of what you describe. It's like they were terrified of being wrong, so they embraced not admitting it no matter what. They would never accept that they had been wrong. (With a few exceptions - I've engaged with A LOT of flat-earthers and some of them do give me the impression they just like playing devil's advocate, etc.)

Lately though, QAnon seems to have embraced this idea. They've made statements that will be very quickly falsifiable, and will actually say "Who cares if it's not true - we just support patriotism / freedom, etc. and what part of that do you disagree with?" They'll make statements that will be very quickly falsifiable (for instance, I saw a post claiming Nancy Pelosi had been arrested for high crimes, and Trump was now making his move - but a few days later obviously that wasn't true). That's what I call a lack of fear of consequences of being wrong. But to me it seems a new phenomenon.


I'm a right winger. I don't know any Q people. It seems to me that mostly left wingers know Q people and know all the details. My leftist father in law will explain in detail to me everything Q said, and I just nod along going like... why would you even bother reading this stuff?


I know several in person. I'm probably right of center and definitely live in a predominantly right area. They put it on their IG stories and they bring it up in person. Without cutting them off socially, not really sure how I can avoid hearing it from time to time.


The article opens with a couple of examples of people allegedly not doing research:

1. Most people make two trips or fewer to a dealership before buying a car

2. when picking a doctor, many individuals use recommendations from friends and family rather than consulting other health care professionals or “formal sources” such as employers, articles or Web sites

And, of course, the last person I would look to for objective advice on buying a car is a car salesman! Surely people have a good idea what they are going to buy, what they are prepared to spend and how they are expecting to finance it etc before going to a dealership for the car?

Ditto too the doctor; if you are searching for a doctor, do you go and cold call other doctors for an opinion? Or read the blurb on a website provided by or sponsored by the employer? Its much more straightforward to ask people you know which doctors they recommend.

Is the subtext of the starting examples meant to be saying that people should defer to car salesman and should ask doctors rather than friends and family to recommend other doctors?


My wife and I have made one trip for every car that we bought.

1. We wanted a used Honda Civic. We found a used Honda Civic online, at a good price relative to Blue Book. We went to the dealership and bought the Honda Civic.

2. We wanted a used Honda CR-V. We found a used Honda CR-V online, at a good price relative to Blue Book. We went to the dealership and bought the Honda CR-V.

Both cars have been great. No need to overcomplicate things.

Stepping back, I've noticed a certain cognitive bias that's very common, but I don't know what its name might be. Basically, the bias is the idea that spending more time gathering information and analyzing is always good. To which I respond... maybe in some limited, abstract, ceteris paribus sense, but in real life? Not really.

1. You're not taking account of the opportunity cost, the things you could be doing that you're not because you're stuck on this one thing.

2. There is such a thing as overthinking / analysis paralysis, where your thinking actually gets worse the more you obsess about something. You may be better off unplugging, taking a walk, and coming back with a clear mind. You may be able to make a quick decision that's reasonably close to optimal and ends the sinking of your time into this one particular thing.


People think they have to be clever/smart when simply not being stupid and not doing stupid things is often more than enough.

Then they will go onto gold digging exercise to prove that they are smart to be smarter than those pesky dealers.

In the end when thing they bought turns out crappy (no gold in that mine:)) they will get defensive about it and will pull all kind of mental gymnastics to confirm what they did was worth investing time.

So such person won't even feel the opportunity cost, because they will make themselves believe that effort was necessary to find that good and they 'gamed the system'.


1. I researched car reliability, resale value, makes and models and determined that a Honda Accord best met my requirements.

2. There was exactly one Honda dealership within driving distance in the state where I wanted to buy the vehicle

3. I acquired this vehicle.

Later on, I was told that this was actually a Japanese Honda, and not an American Honda, and that the allegation was that although the same design, the Japanese Honda had superior reliability records and less variance around fittings, because the Japanese teams had a great deal of experience around assembly (at that time). More than 20 years later I am still driving the same vehicle, and I've had no major issues of any type.

>1. You're not taking account of the opportunity cost, the things you could be doing that you're not because you're stuck on this one thing

I do appreciate the point you made - there is an opportunity cost to your thinking, and overly focusing on one thing may be contrary. If I have learned anything from thinking about SV business models, it is that attention is a limited resource. Every moment we spend overanalyzing one thing, is time spent less on something more productive.

> There is such a thing as overthinking / analysis paralysis, where your thinking actually gets worse the more you obsess about something. You may be better off unplugging, taking a walk, and coming back with a clear mind. You may be able to make a quick decision that's reasonably close to optimal and ends the sinking of your time into this one particular thing.

"paralysis by analysis" is definitely a real thing. Although I believe it is important to go through the cognitive exercise of analysis, it can be counter-productive. Saw this at a workplace or two where budgets to execute projects were highly limited, so staff would analyze-to-death options for fairly low dollar activities. Spent more on analysis of paper projects by a factor, than actual project execution.


Yeah the car example did not resonate with me either.

(a) I hate car shopping, in particular any interactions with the salespeople

(b) I have the internet

(c) I don't believe there is some special deal I can unlock, I think that is a mistaken belief that many dealers like people to hold so they can make them feel like their getting them a special deal, when in reality the "negotiations" are just a bit of theatre

(d) I value my time and it's not worth a few $100 to drive all over looking for deals


c) - haha, that is probably true. I have a relative that just bought a new car. After a little negotiation, got a couple thousand (?) knocked off the price of like a $35k car. "Great deal" - but I'm pretty sure the dealer is prepared to offer a price that is only as low as a great deal for the dealer as well.


This is price discovery in action. From the dealer’s point of view it’s worth jacking up the price that they are willing to take because some consumers will just pay it. Other consumers will try to bargain and they’ll find a (slightly) lower price. When someone just pays the first price the dealer says, the dealer makes a few thousand more than they otherwise works have. This is the same reason there are food coupons. Very price sensitive people will go out of their way to use them but others will pay full price.


Exactly - that dealer could be negotiating dozens of car deals a day, has a ton of experience, PLUS he knows much more about his side of the deal (actual costs and back end rebates, etc)

A typical buyer negotiates for a car only a few times in their life.

Who do you think is likely to come out on top?


I had to fix my car once - the defroster wasn't working - and the bill came out wayyy higher than I had expected - like $1100 on a car that was probably only worth 3 or 4k by my estimates. I was pretty unhappy and I was trying to figure out where the breakdown had occurred. The dealer had talked to me about some complications they had run into and some options they could pursue to fix the heater, and I had given my approval. But I hadn't put together the labor rate and time spent. Was it my fault for not asking? If I had known up front I would have thought twice about sinking 1k into a 3k car. Ultimately I think the dealer held the power in that situation and while it was my fault, the dealer certainly didn't help make it clear. Anyways, that's how you lose trust and business.


Perhaps the author jumped to a conclusion that number of dealership visits correlates with informedness.


It seems reasonable to me; maybe I'm not modeling "most people" well, but it's hard to imagine someone going to dealerships multiple times for information; rather, they are shopping around for the dealerships to underbid each other so they can get a better price. That's a tip I read on the internet.


That's a tip that was valid before internet pricing became a thing. Essentially, the price you see online is the price you pay now, because dealers have (mostly, and FINALLY) learned that if I don't see it at a good price, I'm not interested. Some still have the 'come in to see the price' and they don't move the volume of those with robust internet sales teams [source here that i don't have. Anyone have one?]

Now the extra costs come in on accessories, service plans, and warranties, whereas they used to make more profit on the actual sales.

We just bought a vehicle in March, and it was the best, least friction experience buying a car. I found the package I wanted, I found the color I wanted, I evaluated the price against online sources such as KBB, truecar, and those types of things, then I contacted the dealer who had it in stock online and set a date to come buy it. They didn't try any weird old-timey car sales tactics, because the price is the price. They offered extras, add-ons, the warranties, and service packages, with clear prices, and were respectful when I declined.


I judge my doctors by wait time. I found a doctor where I never have to wait in the lobby more than 10 mins past my appointment time. Unless you have a really unique health condition I don't understand the culture's behavior around patient doctor relationships. Who cares what other doctors think of him or what his Yelp review is. When I have a sinus infection does he write a prescription for z-pack. End of story.


True for 90% of medical issues. The problem is those other 10% - will the GP you chose be able to handle them? Or, perhaps more critically, bow-out, and refer you when they cannot?

It's a tough problem to solve - wait time is certainly part of the solution, but so is bedside manner, the doctor's willingness to punt and refer you elsewhere for unique problems outside their area, price, location, and a hundred other things.

And that doesn't even address picking a specialist. You break your hand, how do you pick a hand surgeon on short notice? The cost of picking the worst guy could be high, but you know what they call the guy who graduated last in his class? Doctor.


I'm a little spectrumy so I often forget how important emotional support/bedside manner is to many people. I see my doctor as an automaton who I feed problems to and he feeds me solutions.

Even something like a broken bone falls under the category of "normal" health issue. It happens all the time. You will be fine with a perfectly mediocre doctor dealing with your broken bone.


My wife broke her hand a few years ago, it required surgery to repair. It was not a "normal" issue. I suppose it could be considered normal for a hand specialist, but when thumb mobility could be permanently compromised, you really don't want to pick the wrong surgeon.

As for bedside manner, I'm mostly with you - it's largely irrelevant. For me, it's more of a minimum acceptable level - as long as they're above it, all is good.


I don't understand this behavior. Did you think you added something valuable to the conversation by replying with a special case?


You claimed we'd be fine with a mediocre doctor, I was providing a counterpoint - the risk of a botched repair was permanent loss of hand function - why risk that with a mediocre doctor?


> the risk of a botched repair was permanent loss of hand function - why risk that with a mediocre doctor?

You make an excellent point, and I will point out a related anecdote.

A plastic surgeon in my wife's practice fell into a glass table severing a number of nerves and tendons in his dominant wrist & arm. Basically a potential career ending injury. Short of an amputation that is one of the worst injuries for a surgeon.

He did not go to any regular hand surgeon, or plastic surgeon that may have done a fellowship in hand. Nope. He got driven to Hopkins where they have one of the best teams in the Mid-Atlantic for complex, nerve involved hand & arm related injuries. A year or so later and he is completely recovered.

Some of the other leading honor roll hospitals [1] like Mass General, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo, etc - they have leaders in their field, and collections of gurus needed for really complex injuries where best outcomes are critical. Regular surgeons refer the super hard cases to them, because they are often times the best care possible in the US.

[1] https://health.usnews.com/health-care/best-hospitals/article...


Do you believe that a normal literate person who reads:

>a mediocre doctor can deal with a broken bone

interprets that as

>there are zero cases of broken bones that are extremely complex requiring highly specialized doctors

I'm really curious to know if you believe that is how humans communicate.


Expecting every person to couch every statement with the exceptions is bad social behavior. Most fractures are set in the ER or even urgent care, maybe a cast, you are fine.

Your "gotcha" response of a relatively rare case of a hand fracture requiring surgery with a specialist is not a meaningful response.


What I've found is that unfortunately there are many GPs that are bad troubleshooters. They know their standard sinus infection or gastro etc. that 90% of patients come to them with but anything that requires actually problem solving is beyond them. You gotta do that yourself.

The best GP I have had admitted when she didn't know but knew how to search and searched together with me or gave pointers for further experimentation and troubleshooting. He wait times suck because she does this. I love it.

Re: manners. This can be so different. I had an Indian colleague complain to me once about a really bad doctor. The doctor apparently told her mother that she had cancer. I was dumbfounded why that would be bad (she did actually have cancer). Apparently the doctor was supposed to tell a family member about it but not the mother.

I very clearly told her that if a doctor did tell a family member but not me I would be really really mad. Never mind doctor patient confidentiality rules.

She didn't seem to understand.


I agree. As a person that has bought many new cars I try to spend as little time at the dealer as possible. I would assume most savvy buyers do as well. Getting a hard sell or bad information from an aggressive associate is not high on my list of things to do.

Same goes for doctors. I need a recommendation for somebody in my area that I can work with. If a close friend likes a doctor there is probably a decent chance I will like them as well. I can also google them and things like that before deciding to go. It also isn’t a lifetime commitment. If I don’t like them I can change doctors very easily.


I think the bias on this comment thread would lead most people here to be well researched and not do the two things you mentioned. I wouldn't buy a car without research. The example of a doctor is more fraught - in the US I met the doctor and would have changed if I didn't read them and believe them to be competent in my judgement (And the institution I went to had already a high bar for quality).

I think what is missing from their comment is that people go to do those things without doing prior research. In the case which you go to the car salesman once, you have already done your research - same with the doctor.

I know people who would exhibit the behavior without doing the prior research. I am not sure if they believe the car salesman or not, I can't read their mind.


What the article hints at but does not discuss is time to action. For example, a bad decision can be revisited but the time lost to indecision is forever gone.

Some people are comfortable making hasty decisions. Just because a person visited only one car dealer does not suggest a lack of prior research. A person may know exactly what they want and the price range they are willing to pay for it with features they want. The last time I bought a car I went to one dealer and told them I want these features. They called around to various other dealers on my behalf because they wanted my business and they knew what to look for.

Time to action stresses arbitrary decisions which may not be hasty (no planning or research). The goal of a well considered time to action is to act quickly but in balance for risk analysis. This means either having a remediation already available or transferring the risk to someone else in order to make a decision now consequences be damned.


People may spend 3-4x as much time trying out and choosing a car as buying an expensive TV, even though the car costs ~20X more and more research, haggling, etc. on the car could be worth 3 TVs, but more on the TV could only be like at most .2 TVs.


Yes, but you very soon reach the point of diminishing returns when you try to research any purchase. After a maximum a few hours it is hard to find any more useful information about most consumer goods. You have read all the specifications, and the tests and the reviews and went to the stores to look at the products in person. So even if you might spend half a day researching an expensive TV, you won't make a better buy of a car even if you spend more than a day or two researching. And if you spend ten full days to buy a car, you are most certainly wasting your time (and will lose more income than you can optimise your car purchase).


People don't value money linearly. You wouldn't pay an additional $10 for a cup of filter coffee, but most people wouldn't think twice about paying an additional $10 for a car. But it's the same amount of money, so surely that's irrational in that situation.

In other situations it makes complete sense. If you have $1M, losing $10 isn't nearly as big a deal as when those $10 were all you had.

If you try to apply game theory to economics you apply a utility function to money to model this, and a logarithmic function maps quite well to how humans think about money.


> But it's the same amount of money, so surely that's irrational in that situation.

Not necessarily, since many people buy coffee way more often than they buy a car.


Not disagreeing with your conclusion but there’s a difference between spending $10 more for 3 years of utility vs $10 more for 3 minutes of utility.


The last three times I bought or leased a new car I visited dealers zero times. I decided what I wanted then I faxed (yes, faxed!) my requirements to the dealer who seemed to have inventory with instructions where and when to meet me with the vehicle and paperwork. This seems to work, except the one time the dealer thought I wanted to negotiate over the price and I showed them the door.

Buying a car is all about understanding that dealers are usually pretty desperate.


I bought my latest car in March. I performed most research and all price negotiation online. Even at that, I still visited 4 dealers. The first two to test a large SUV, which I thought I wanted, but ended up not liking. The third to test drive two smaller SUVs. And the fourth to pick-up the SUV I eventually purchased.

I wouldn't think this was an unusual pattern for many buyers in the internet age.


Last time we bought a car we knew what we wanted and what it should cost, but had to visit multiple dealers because they kept lying about availability, prices, etc.


It's not even subtext. The media has been screaming at everyone to trust the experts and defer thinking.


No, the problem is rejecting experts in place of loud-mouthed pundits, who either make crap up or cherry-pick outlier expert viewpoints without telling you they are outliers or bringing in non-outliers to counter.


Yeah, this is an evolutionary adaptation. Even long ago the world had too many stimulus and we develop patters of how to handle different types of situations. This is talked about extensively in the book, "Thinking, fast and slow". In today's world, the world is infinitely complex. No one has time (or the desire, frankly) to do appropriate research on a single issue let alone all the issues that need considered. I'd bet that almost no one did 20+ hours of research reading about mRNA vaccines and FDA clinical trial data before decided to take or not take the vaccine. Everyone picked someone to trust whether that was the FDA or social media or news media and then got on with their life. And generally, once we find a "trusted" source, we tend to trust them for everything regardless of lack of evidence or contradiction. Humans have a deep survival instinct of having packs and trusting in the pack to protect them. Everyone just wants to get on with their busy life and not have to worry about all of this, whatever it is.


Haha i am a person who jumps to conclusions, and i actually bought my most recent car after 1.5 visits to dealerships (i tried BMW but the dealer was rude to me so i left before i actually found out anything, and went straight to Volvo and i am super happy with my new S60). So i think i am qualified for an opinion :D

One thing that hits me is conspiracy theories. Although i am not buying into any of the currently circulating ones (covid deliberately invented by Chinese, mind control chips and 5G, faked Moon landings), i understand people who do. Actually, hiding link between cell phones and cancer was a very viable idea through ~mid-2000s when cell phones became just way too numerous so if the link was true, it would become impossible to hide (and this is about the time when i heard of this theory a lot, then it gradually subsided, i haven't really heard of it in any serious manner in the last 10 years). After all, we know that they quite deliberately denied addictiveness of tobacco? They denied harm from leaded gasoline and lead water pipes? There is so much nasty crap authorities concealed or actively denied because they made money on it. They still deny how dangerous and addictive sugar is. Many of them still deny global warming.


Abiogenic origin of oil in the Earth's crust. There's no strong scientific evidence for it, so I can't bring myself to believe it; but I can't bring myself to dismiss it, either. It somehow strikes a cord in me as a reasonable thing.

I have to keep telling myself "It's probably not true," but if it ever turns out to be proven, I'd be shouting "I KNEW IT!"


It's related to the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect where you read something you are well studied in and you find it riddled with errors then you read something else you know nothing about, like say the origin of oil and you are more open to terrible mistakes. But then again I do think about how past generations had their own established theories, like 'the ether', or a geocentric universe only to have those be laughed at by our current understanding. But all that is more of romantic notion that I might be on to something that science has totally missed a romantic version of the Gell Man amnesia effect. Basically we can't know everything and have to trust something.


Conspiracy theories aren't 100% irrational. It's irrational to assume that they are all 100% wrong and don't contain any correct or at least useful information. People do make plans together and influential people do tend to hang out together... It's not illogical to assume that they hatch plans to maintain the social order in a way that works for them and that some of these plans will be at the expense of the general population. Of course saying this isn't mathematically rigorous but each person who reads this should know axiomatically from first hand observation that rich people do hang out together and that rich people are generally good at implementating their visions/plans (how else they got rich?).

This kind of logic is acceptable because decisions about one's life can never be made on the basis of mathematically rigorous information because you very rarely come across such kind of information in your day to day life. To suggest that the mainstream consensus is always accurate is to deny past history and present reality. No matter your religion, you can always point to incredibly large groups of people who believe some facts that you perceive to be incorrect.


People conspire all the time, so there's bound to be conspiracy theories that are true. I think it's telling that the author uses the moon landing as an example, which to me seems to be among the least likely (but somewhat popular) theories. All credible evidence points to the moon landing actually happening, making it a good candidate for this study. Simply labeling that "endorse conspiracy theories" is a bit thoughtless though.


The "fake" moon landings is an interesting example; although the number of direct eye-witnesses is tiny, there are thousands of scientists and engineers at NASA that will queue-up to testify they really happened, and nobody who actually knows anything will deny it.

But the affirmers are all people in white lab-coats, and many people automatically distrust anyone in a white lab-coat. No "ordinary people" went to the moon and witnessed it themselves. I believe you could pick out the lunar lander from Earth, using a BIG telescope, as a small dot. But no amateur stargazer could do that. So all the affirmative testimony comes from a group of people who were all working for the same team.

So if you don't trust that team, there's no reliable evidence against the CT. (There's no evidence for it either; but if you don't trust the people who know, then to doubt seems rational)


Yes, the level of evidence kind of depends on your world-view. I would have said that the fact that both the US and the USSR both claimed it happened, with the USSR seemingly only losing from that, is already strongly in support of the moon landing being real. But some people divide the world differently, to them it's politicians and mainstream media, and scientists employed by them, who are making that claim, which makes that group look much less diverse.

I imagine you could just as easily make a study "people who look at fewer partitions of datasets reach wrong conclusions more often". Just as you can sample more fish from a lake and see if there's a pattern in their color, you can try to look at more perspectives and see if there's a pattern one way or the other.


> Conspiracy theories aren't 100% irrational.

The term is often used to refer to implausible "theories" that make very strong claims, but have zero supporting evidence and make zero testable predictions.

Of course, it's true that people conspire all the time.

Implausible "theories" that make strong claims are exciting and entertaining. They're fun to play with. They become a problem when they go viral, among groups of people with limited critical thinking skills.

The internet has been responsible for this, by democratising information. Anyone who failed at school can still look up shifty research papers online, misunderstand them, and not not know how to evaluate the evidence.

This is a social pandemic, and I have no idea what the cure is. But I'm certain the cure isn't more censorship.

> you can always point to incredibly large groups of people who believe some facts that you perceive to be incorrect.

Hardly any propositions about the world are "mathematically rigorous" - there's nearly always a big chunk of judgement needed to decide the truth of a proposition. That doesn't mean that all judgements have equal value; some beliefs are "wronger" than others. There seem to be large groups of people with opinions that are screamingly, obviously, completely wrong, and as close to 100% irrational as makes no difference.

Some "conspiracy theories" lack adequate supporting evidence, but are at least arguable. For example, it's a fact that in the past, groups of people have been given vaccines that were deliberately contaminated by the manufacturer. It's therefore not unreasonable to ask for evidence that this hasn't happened in the case of e.g. COVID vaccines.

I prefer to reserve the term "conspiracy theory" for that class of opinions that is obviously completely batshit.


> They become a problem when they go viral, among groups of people with limited critical thinking skills.

Agreed, and to expand on this: I believe another problem is that these conspiracy theorists also believe that they have secret knowledge that the man doesn’t want you to have. Finally, they are smarter about something than those folks with education and success.

This makes them an easy target for real conspiracies, conspiracies by folks that merely want to take their money. See, for example, the anti-GMO movement and specifically the anti-GMO seed packs you can buy.


> See, for example, the anti-GMO movement

I'm against GMO. Not because I believe retail GMO food is likely to be harmful; I mean, harmful foods could be made, but we have testing.

I'm against GMO because (a) a lot of GMO plants have been engineered to be grown with heavy use of herbicides and pesticides, (b) GMO crops make a farm non-organic, and I'm in favour of organic farming for environmental reasons; and (c) GMO companies lobby incessantly against food labelling. If a food supplier doesn't want to label my food, then absent any other excuse, I presume there's something they don't want me to know (yes, I read food labels in supermarkets. I carry a credit-card-sized magnifier in my wallet, for that purpose).

What is an "anti-GMO seed pack"? Would that just be a pack containing seeds that are not genetically modified?


It's rational for them to lobby against GMO labeling because it's a lose-lose proposition, even if they honestly believe their food is safe and eat it themselves. Either it scares off consumers (some of whom won't know what GMO means but understandably assume it's bad because it's disclosed) or they have to spend a bunch of money on "consumer education" and lose some of them anyway.

That's whether GMOs are safe or not.

Water companies would also lobby against "Warning: heavy water" and Cisco would lobby against "gigahertz radiation" labels, but not because they have something to hide.


> Doesn't mean they're hiding something.

No it doesn't.

But without a label of the form "contains GM ingredients", I am being deprived of choice about what I eat. It's reasonable to expect people to care a lot about what they eat.

> Water companies would also lobby against "heavy water" labels

If you mean labelling ordinary water as "heavy" because it contains a tiny amount of deuterium, I'm not that's analogous. Even if it is, I'm not sure that saying "They would say that, wouldn't they" makes their arguments against labelling more persuasive.


It's not a prefect analogy because it only really captures the producer's point of view. They are hiding the product's heaviness or GMOness itself, but because they think that doesn't tell you anything about its safety or general worthiness and so should not be part of your decision.

You should still be able to avoid the product for environmental reasons, or just because, but of course they don't think so. (HN's favorite Sinclair quote about men and salaries and understanding.)


You probably mean "hard water"?


A heavy water molecule has deuterium in place of hydrogen; the extra neurons make it "heavy." Most water has some miniscule amount of heavy water in it.


(Neutrons.)


I think the problem is that people don’t follow through their thinking or double check their facts, leading to flights of fancy.

This is why Occam’s razor is such a useful tool. Suppose your conspiracy is correct. Now how many things do you have to explain to make this conspiracy work? If it’s too many, maybe your ideas are wrong and you need a simpler answer.


There are degrees of conspiracy theory, and as a term it's been highly undermined and politicized, sort of like 'fake news'.

I think that it's easy to fall into a false dichotomy between 'believing that everything conventional is true' and 'conapiracy theories are real'.

Sometimes conspiracy theorists defend themselves by asking things like 'do you trust the government/corporations/church...?' as if I must either trust everything a government has ever said or (eg.) believe it's harbouring secret ET bases. Or that no doctor has ever lied or they are hiding the secret cancer cure.

And yea, maybe I am missing something that's real. The issue is that there is such a deluge of crap, that no one can possibly know every theory. You could spend months or years just researching one of (9/11, crisis actor, qanon, moon landing, telepathy, etc).

We may just be talking about different types of conspiracy theories though, as mentioned by the other responder.


The article lacked a single counter-example to show when jumping to a conclusion might be advantageous.

And yet much of life is dominated by such cases.

Great ball players jump all the time.

Hunters jump or go hungry.

Soldiers jump or get jumped.

Financial traders jump all day long. It doesn't mean they don't study at night, but during they day, they don't spend time pondering trades that disappear as fast as a gap in traffic.

Maitre d's jump.

Taxi drivers jump.

Fork lift drivers jump.

Customs inspectors jump.

Politicians jump.

Not everyone jumps.

Engineers work things out. But they still have to jump sometimes before the factory explodes or the heat shield disintegrates or the oxygen runs out.


Fortune favors the bold. People telling you to never be bold want all the fortune.


Conspiracy theories are a manifestation of skepticism.

One insight recently in the political theater is to determine what your audience is skeptical of. Everyone is skeptical of something, and these biases, when pinpointed, can be illuminating.

On any topic you can split skepticism into groups. Are you more skeptical of government? The pharmaceutical industry? Corporations? Which?


> Conspiracy theories are a manifestation of skepticism.

They're a manifestation of biased skepticism. Conspiracy theorists tend to be skeptical of everything except their own favorite conspiracy theories.


All skepticism is biased by one’s background. The ‘quid est veritas’ of our age will become more difficult with all the noise, deep fakes, powerful interests, etc.


IMO, they are born from distrust rather than skepticism, even though they are clearly related.


That lake fishing example is terrible without any indication what "most" really means. If I take that to mean that 99% of all fish in one of the lakes are red, then seeing one red fish already makes me pretty confident which lake it is from.

There is also this massive assumption in whole thing that investing time to study or decide actually increases positive outcomes. Might need to show that and then see if time spent vs. possible upside is well allocated.


I'd wager that's part of the puzzle - lacking information, you jump to the conclusion that 99% are single color in a given lake. But, "most" could be 51% or anywhere in between.

How many fish do you need to catch to be relatively confident you've covered the 51% possibility? 2-3? 9-10? I'm sure there's a mathematic solution, but my gut tells me I'd want more than 2-3. Maybe as many as 10 or 20, depending on how frequently fish are caught.


The confidence is pretty easy to calculate with Bayes rule. p(redLake|redFish)= p(redFish|redLake)*p(redLake)/p(redFish).

If you're doing multiple experiments, then you can say that p(redLake) is your belief and update it by multiplying by p(redFish|redLake)/p(redFish) every time you see a red fish, and its inverse whenever you see a grey fish.

If both of the lakes are 49-51, the update size is 0.51/0.50 = 1.02. Each red fish you see should increase your confidence in the red lake by 2% over whatever it was before, and vice versa.

Assuming your original assumption is 50-50: After you see one red fish, you can be 51% confident in the red lake. If you've seen 5 more red fish than grey, you can be 55% confident. If you've seen 10 more red fish than grey, you can be 60% confident. If you've seen 30 more red fish than grey, you can be 90% confident.

If the proportion of fish in each lake is more substantial, your bayesian update is larger and your confidence increases faster. If each lake is 90% one color, a single piece of evidence should give you 90% confidence.


It's a "Jump to Conclusions Mat". You see, it is a mat that you put on the floor, and it has different CONCLUSIONS written on it that you could JUMP TO.


That is the worst idea I've ever heard.


I envy you.


I think most people on this thread have jumped to apply this generally when I think it is intended to be focused on schizophrenia. I also think the research shows that bias intervention training doesn't really take over the long run and I question how useful this is for the average joe.


I always thought I was too quick to jump to conclusions. After reading this, I'm not so sure I am any more.

I guess the true conclusion-jumpers don't think they are.

David Dunning strikes again!


Haha. (I had just come here to note one of the authors is the Dunning from the Dunning-Krueger effect -- I honestly didn't know anything about him, such as whether he was still alive!)


Lots of people hum and haw and get things totally wrong. The question is not how fast you jump but how well prepared the ground of your thought was for the situation.


This describes my world in programming. I have learned to be careful and deliberate in software efforts, and it pays. But I work with quite a few type 1 jumpers that spend countless wasted hours trying to solve problems because they jump too fast to conclusions. FD, I’m often accused by friends and family of overthinking things.

I’m curious if there’s a correlation between type 1 jumpers and people who are more entrepreneurial risk takers.


It's about impulse control.

Most criminals do not have it either.


An experiment based on drawing red or grey balls/fish/things...

You know, this really isn’t a valid experiment. If you do the probability calculations then 2-3 draws is all you need. All this is based on the assumption getting red or grey is high probability, >90%.

This is exactly how distributors do defect testing on lots incoming goods.


people underestimate the cost of dwelling on problems. There is great value to coming to conclusions quickly.



Wonder if this outcome can be reproduced if asked in other spoken human languages and "AI"


This headline and article are essentially, "Foolish people are often foolish."


This thread is basically chock full of people jumping to conclusions, including myself. It seems to me that jumping to conclusions is part of the human condition, and I find it difficult to blame them for that.




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