I wanted to post about a blog that I check out regularly, called "Overcoming Bias
", that I thought might be of interest to some here.
It's a somewhat strange blog, written by an economics professor and futurist (Robin Hanson), that discusses human behavior and societal interactions and incentives.
I'm not endorsing his opinions, and it's a little hard to describe what I find interesting about the blog -- except that the tone of it is quite different (perhaps the author has Aspergers or is able to view issues unusually dispassionately) -- it's hard to put my finger on it.
The blog often comes across to me as matter-of-factly talking about things that seem slightly off-kilter, but in a very plain and logical way. Like an alien analyzing human behavior without our normal social moorings. Think "spock" from star trek. I suppose this is the kind of approach you expect from an economist but the results when applied to human behavior can be quite interesting. He's often talking about "signaling" -- like the signals that people give off to attract mates, and proposing unusual hypotheticals and thought experiments in order to make a point.
For example, from some recent excerpts:
"So my advice is to choose a focus for your honesty, a narrow enough focus to have a decent chance at achieving honesty. Make your focus more narrow the more dangerous is your focus area. Try to insulate beliefs on your focus topics from beliefs on risky topics like your own value, and try to arrange things so you will be penalized for dishonesty. Don’t persent yourself as a “rationalist” who is more honest on all topics, but instead as at best “rationalist on X.”
"There’s a simple signaling explanation here. We like to do big things, as they make us seem big. We don’t want to be obvious about this motive, so we pretend to have financial calculations to justify them. But we are purposely sloppy about those calculations, so that we can justify the big projects we want."
"Consider two possible work strategies. One strategy is just to try to do a good job. The other is to try to kiss ass and please your boss any way you can. Of course you can try either strategy, both, or neither. Which makes four different kinds of workers. Now ask yourself, of these four kinds of workers, which ones do you think achieve the most career success? Which ones have the most job and life satisfaction?"
Anyway, it's an interesting and unusual academic blog -- worth checking out if you like that kind of thing.