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Let's apply the Principle of Charity here. Perhaps the researchers are idiots, far below the average education and intelligence of, say, Hacker News users. But perhaps they're as familiar with such notions as "complex phenomenon" and "environmental factor" as we are.

We should choose the more charitable interpretation, not because there aren't idiots out there, but because doing so leads to more interesting discussion in the long run—and usually in the short run too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity




Why not? Are researches not hungry for grants, quick fame and cheap sensations? Do they never neglect subtleties of statistical models, like necessity of a third "control group"? Are they all flawless and brilliant, or there might be some halo effect, overconfidence and jumping to conclusions? Are they never trying find a support for their hypothesis form correlations barely distinguishable statistically? Kahneman suggest that this is rather common.

The first question is "How does they manage to properly test this "link" with a distinct control group". Could you explain, please.

So, I prefer to read Simon Baron-Cohen.


Oh, I agree with you on all of that and more, but if we're to have substantive discussion, we need to guard against generic dismissals. This is the weed that grows most abundantly around here. (Generic endorsement is probably just as bad, but we don't have that problem on HN.)

If you have specific information about this or relevant research, by all means contribute it. But railing against idiocy in a generic way lowers the signal/noise ratio of the threads: if generic it must be predictable, and if predictable it can add no information. The Principle of Charity is so good for counteracting this that we may add it to the HN guidelines.

Intellectual charity doesn't require accepting anything false. It means that when there are several reasonable interpretations, you should pick the strongest. This goes against the default tendency we all have, to pick the weakest to then have the pleasure of overturning it. That pleasure is strong—so strong that one may begin seeing idiots for it—and it overpowers the pleasures of curiosity, which is what we're going for.




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