[SEQ RERUN] A Fable of Science and Politics

by jake9877221 min read26th Apr 201110 comments

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Today's post, A Fable of Science and Politics was originally published on 23 December 2006. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):

People respond in different ways to clear evidence they're wrong, not always by updating and moving on.


Discuss the post here (rather than in the comments to the original post).

This post is part of the Rerunning the Sequences series, where we'll be going through Eliezer Yudkowsky's old posts in order so that people who are interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was "I don't know.", and you can use the sequence_reruns tag or rss feed to follow the rest of the series.

Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day's sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go here for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.

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At one of my first jobs, the employees in my department wore either blue or green ID badges around our necks.

The blue badges were for the permanent employees (actually employed by the company) and the green badges were for contractors (actually employed by a staffing firm). The permanent employees had health insurance, higher status, company perks and worked on a salary. The contractors were paid by the hour, had lower status, used a time card, had more supervision, and had less flexible scheduling.

At the time, I hadn't heard the story of the Blue and Green Romans, but in undergrad we learned about a psychology experiment on ingroups and outgroups where they divided subjects into Blues and Greens. I found it hilarious that the company had decided to literally label their employees blue and green, as if setting the stage for an us-versus-them experiment.

And...? Did such effects occur?

Absolutely.

Only minor drama of course, but it definitely was not a cohesive group. Sometimes I heard the terms "blue badges" or "green badges" used pejoratively to refer to the different groups generically.

I'm just wondering if you're aware of this post: http://lesswrong.com/lw/lt/the_robbers_cave_experiment/

At first, I thought it's what you're talking about, but realized that the details are different (and kinda cool in a scary way).

This must have been said before, but when it's specifically about American politics, the metaphor of "blue versus green" standing for "red versus blue versus green-which-is-more-like-blue-than-like-red" can get pretty confusing. If the phenomenon is so common, surely history has many equally vivid examples.

I prefer that he uses something from completely beyond everyone's daily experience, helps keep the discussion about politics in general and its impact on rationality and away from [insert controversial political issue of the week].

Just to be clear, I agree; I was complaining about this specific metaphor applied to the specific domain that I mentioned.

[-][anonymous]10y 0

I was complaining about this metaphor, not metaphors generally.

Who said it's specifically about American politics? It isn't even specifically about politics.

Hence "when". I'd say that when the metaphor is used here, more than 10% of the time it's about American politics.