November 23, 2006

Transhumanist philosophers want to help you overcome your biases

A group of philosophers which include such transhumanist thinkers as Robin Hanson, Nick Bostrom, Hal Finney, Peter McCluskey and Eliezer Yudkowsky have launched a blog dedicated to the issue of overcoming bias. The blog is meant as a public forum and is part of Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute.

Economist Robin Hanson describes the collaborative blog,
How can we better believe what is true? While it is of course useful to seek and study relevant information, our minds are full of natural tendencies to bias our beliefs via overconfidence, wishful thinking, and so on. Worse, our minds seem to have a natural tendency to convince us we that are aware of and have adequately corrected for such biases, when we have done no such thing.

In this forum we discuss whether and how we might avoid this fate, by spending a bit less effort on each specific topic, and a bit more effort on the general topic of how to be less biased. Here we discuss common patterns of bias and self-deception, statistical and other formal analysis tools, computational and data-gathering aids, and social institutions which may discourage bias and encourage its correction. Other topics may be discussed to the extent they exemplify important biases and correction issues.
To get you started, here's a concise list of common cognitive biases.

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