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Overcoming Bias : How Idealists Aid Cheaters
I’ve been reading the book Moral Mazes for the last few months; it is excellent, but also depressing, which is why it takes so long to read. It makes a strong case, through many detailed examples, that in typical business organizations, norms are actually enforced far less than members pretend. The typical level of checking is in fact far too little to effectively enforce common norms, such as against self-dealing, bribery, accounting lies, fair evaluation of employees, and treating similar customers differently. Combining this data with other things I know, I’m convinced that this applies not only in business, but in human behavior more generally.

We often argue about this key parameter of how hard or necessary it is to enforce norms. Cynics tend to say that it is hard and necessary, while idealists tend to say that it is easy and unnecessary. This data suggests that cynics tend more to be right, even as idealists tend to win our social arguments.

One reason idealists tend to win arguments is that they impugn the character and motives of cynics. They suggest that cynics can more easily see opportunities for cheating because cynics in fact intend to and do cheat more, or that cynics are losers who seek to make excuses for their failures, by blaming the cheating of others. Idealists also tend to say what while other groups may have norm enforcement problems, our group is better, which suggests that cynics are disloyal to our group.

Norm enforcement is expensive, but worth it if we have good social norms, that discourage harmful behaviors. Yet if we under-estimate how hard norms are to enforce, we won’t check enough, and cheaters will get away with cheating, canceling much of the benefit of the norm. People who privately know this fact will gain by cheating often, as they know they can get away with it. Conversely, people who trust norm enforcement to work will be cheated on, and lose.

When confronted with data, idealists often argue, successfully, that it is good if people tend to overestimate the effectiveness of norm enforcement, as this will make them obey norms more, to everyone’s benefit. They give this as a reason to teach this overestimate in schools and in our standard public speeches. And so that is what societies tend to do. Which benefits those who, even if they give lip service to this claim in public, are privately selfish enough to know it is a lie, and are willing to cheat on the larger pool of gullible victims that this policy creates.

That is, idealists aid cheaters.
ratty  hanson  books  review  speculation  branches  ideology  cooperate-defect  coordination  alignment  social-norms  cynicism-idealism  unintended-consequences  propaganda  info-dynamics  cost-benefit  realness  truth  summary  contrarianism  things  rhetoric  phalanges 
9 weeks ago by nhaliday
15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook | WIRED
The streets of Davos, Switzerland, were iced over on the night of January 25, 2018, which added a slight element of danger to the prospect of trekking to the Hotel Seehof for George Soros’ annual banquet.
Pocket  trends2019  facebook  algorithms  SlavesToTheAlgorithm  trends2018  unintended-consequences  SilenceIsGold  DataMinimalism 
april 2019 by apolaine
How Cartographers for the U.S. Military Inadvertently Created a House of Horrors in South Africa
The potential for bad things to happen exists wherever a tool is used for a different purpose than intended by it's creators.


"It’s not that IP addresses are useless for evidence gathering, but the proper approach is to go to the internet service provider that operates the IP address and get it to tell you who was using it at the time it did the bad thing. This usually requires a subpoena or court order, so regular people turn to IP mapping sites instead. And those sites sadly don’t tell people just how imprecise IP mapping is unless they read the fine print or click into the FAQ."


"And that’s the problem, really. John and Ann’s problems weren’t necessarily caused by one bad actor, but by the interaction of a bunch of careless decisions that cascaded through a series of databases. The NGA provides a free database with no regulations on its use. MaxMind takes some coordinates from that database and slaps IP addresses on them. Then IP mapping sites, as well as phone carriers offering “find my phone” services, display those coordinates on maps as distinct and exact locations, ignoring the “accuracy radius” that is supposed to accompany them."
technology  usability  unintended-consequences 
january 2019 by num1
Japan's Hometown Tax | Kalzumeus Software
On the slightly weird market in gifting some of your tax to your hometown and the incentives to do so that have developed in Japan.
Japan  finance  tax  unintended-consequences 
october 2018 by mr_stru
Does left-handedness occur more in certain ethnic groups than others?
Yes. There are some aboriginal tribes in Australia who have about 70% of their population being left-handed. It’s also more than 50% for some South American tribes.

The reason is the same in both cases: a recent past of extreme aggression with other tribes. Left-handedness is caused by recessive genes, but being left-handed is a boost when in hand-to-hand combat with a right-handed guy (who usually has trained extensively with other right-handed guys, as this disposition is genetically dominant so right-handed are majority in most human populations, so lacks experience with a left-handed). Should a particular tribe enter too much war time periods, it’s proportion of left-handeds will naturally rise. As their enemy tribe’s proportion of left-handed people is rising as well, there’s a point at which the natural advantage they get in fighting disipates and can only climb higher should they continuously find new groups to fight with, who are also majority right-handed.


So the natural question is: given their advantages in 1-on-1 combat, why doesn’t the percentage grow all the way up to 50% or slightly higher? Because there are COSTS associated with being left-handed, as apparently our neural network is pre-wired towards right-handedness - showing as a reduced life expectancy for lefties. So a mathematical model was proposed to explain their distribution among different societies



Further, it appears the average left-handedness for humans (~10%) hasn’t changed in thousands of years (judging by the paintings of hands on caves)

Frequency-dependent maintenance of left handedness in humans.

Handedness frequency over more than 10,000 years

[ed.: Compare with Julius Evola's "left-hand path".]
q-n-a  qra  trivia  cocktail  farmers-and-foragers  history  antiquity  race  demographics  bio  EEA  evolution  context  peace-violence  war  ecology  EGT  unintended-consequences  game-theory  equilibrium  anthropology  cultural-dynamics  sapiens  data  database  trends  cost-benefit  strategy  time-series  art  archaeology  measurement  oscillation  pro-rata  iteration-recursion  gender  male-variability  cliometrics  roots  explanation  explanans  correlation  causation  branches 
july 2018 by nhaliday
How Pro-Eating Disorder Posts Evade Filters on Social Media | WIRED
“We have policies against saving this type of content from other sites and social media to our platform,” a Pinterest spokesperson said in a statement. “If this content enters our system, we have a number of automated and manual processes in place to remove it or make it harder to find, and we will not show results if someone searches for these terms. We take this content very seriously and are always working to get better.”
algorithms  social-media  technology  unintended-consequences  mental-health 
june 2018 by maxmamis

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