This is related to the ideological Turing Test, as well as the LW post Are Your Enemies Innately Evil.

The ideological Turing Test probably suffers from differences in language usage and style. It's the difference between understanding the theory, and being able to impersonate a style convincingly.

As for EY's article, I think he needs to update on the evidence for bedrock differences in people's values. Just because someone is a hero in their own story, doesn't mean they're not evil in mine. And certainly, vice versa.

So let's come right out and say it—the 9/11 hijackers weren't evil mutants. They did not hate freedom.

That's just silly. They do hate freedom - by what I mean by freedom, and by what EY means by freedom.

What you know that ain't so

by NancyLebovitz 1 min read23rd Mar 201522 comments


This is an analysis of the Yom Kippur war (Egypt vs. Israel, 1973)-- the Israelis were interested in how Egypt managed a surprise attack, and it turned out that too many Israelis believed that the Egyptians would only attack if they had rockets which could reach deep into Israel. The Egyptians didn't have those rockets, so the Israeli government ignored evidence that the Egyptians were massing military forces on the border.

The rest of the article is analysis of the recent Israeli election, but to put it mildly, an election has much less in the way of well-defined factors than a surprise military attack, so it's much harder to say whether any explanation is correct. 

I'm sure there are many examples of plausible theories keeping people from getting to the correct explanation for a long time. Any suggestions? Also, is there a standard name for this mistake?