Friday, 30 December 2011

The stupidity dilemma


Stupidity is something we observe – social data we collect while doing the rounds. In the climate change debate, both sides can’t be right. One side is stupidly getting the evidence wrong, but the question is - which side is stupid? Worth remembering and emphasising I think – one side is stupid because the issue isn't difficult. So how do we tell which side is stupid?

The stupid side is the one claiming to have the answers. 

This is an example of what I like to think of as the stupidity dilemma – too often we end up choosing sides when it might be better not to choose any side. If we toss a coin where there are only two sides to the question, we’ll be right 50% of the time. If there are more than two sides, then our chances of being right by making purely random choices goes down. So choosing our beliefs randomly might not be the optimal policy in spite of the obvious attractions. What to do?

Well surely the only sensible option is to go against the consensus except for logical and moral issues. Logical truths never change and moral values, at least the basic, socially cohesive ones, don’t change much either. Apart from these two, the remainder usually turns out to be rubbish.

So outside of logic and morals, the lesson is to disagree with the consensus. You don't have come up with something more credible, because the world would be a much better place if we simply chucked out the rubbish. We don't have to think up substitute rubbish.

It worked with climate scientists who have turned out to be a bunch of obvious frauds - hopeless dimwits who can barely be trusted to tie their own shoelaces without faking it. It also worked for the EU which has turned out to be the clumsy disaster it so transparently always was.

Pinpoint the official consensus and just slag it off – a tip for the New Year.


Mark Wadsworth said...

"the lesson is to disagree with the consensus"

Correct. I've always done that. If the consensus is right and I'm wrong, well nothing lost, and if the consensus is wrong and by fluke I am right (a stopped clock, and all that), then there is the small possibility that the consensus will change.

James Higham said...

So outside of logic and morals, the lesson is to disagree with the consensus.

Outside of logic ... y-e-e-e-s-s-s.

Old's wives tales had much currency because there was an element of truth to them, not relativistic truth but truth truth.

For example, red sky in the morning is a wise saying if you're a sailor. It's wrong to murder or steal from your neighbour is another good consensus.

A K Haart said...

MW - yes it's a good life tactic.

JH - my take on logic is very broad. If a wise saying works for you, then it would be logical to take note - that kind of thing.

Mark Wadsworth said...

JH, I think AKH covered that.

On stuff like The Ten Commandments, there is the moral override and this is the sort of millennia old and near-universal example of things which can't be merrily derided as 'consensus',