All of dtm's Comments + Replies

Fair enough! I think the circuit analogy is fitting; the primary analysis is at a system-level scale rather than an individual unit scale. That said, my goal would be to turn it into a tool for better understanding and changing biases themselves (without losing the higher-level functionality). Some people have offered some ideas on how that might be done, and that’s exactly what I’m hoping to get out of sharing here.

You are a step ahead of my latest post with the CBT comment. Good points on being able to write out thought chains and add distortion notation later and symbols for common biases. Have you seen examples of belief network diagrams used in this way?

I have read about CBT but haven't done the exercise about spotting cognitive distortions.  I have created larger diagrams in the belief reporting context. My knowledge about the technique comes from a single two hour workshop at the LessWrong community weekend and not directly from Leverage. I'm not sure what kind of notation the Leverage folks use to layout belief networks. 

I think my comments about it being helpful in working through biases led people to think I intended these primarily as active problem-solving devices. Of course you can't just draw a diagram with a jog in it and then say "Aha! That was a bias!" If anything, I think (particularly in more complex cases) the visuals could help make biases more tangible, almost as a kind of mnemonic device to internalize in the same way that you might create a diagram to help you study for a test. I would like to make the diagrams more robust to serve as a visua... (read more)

You are overestimating the ambition of the diagram. I know it does not add any new information. I am (working on) presenting the information in a visual form. That’s why I called it a new way of visualizing biases, not a new way to get rid of them with this one simple trick. You can convey all the information shown in a Venn diagram without a diagram, but that doesn’t mean the diagram has no possible value. And if there were a community dedicated to understanding logical relations between finite collections of sets back in 1880, I’m sure they would have shot down John’s big idea at first too.

Venn diagrams allow one to visually see and check the logical relations between finite collections of sets. For example, it makes it easy to see that A-(U-A) = A (where U is the universe); or to give a more complicated example, U−(A∪B)=(U−A)∩(U−B). Argument maps allow one to visually see the structure of an argument laid out, which:  * helps avoid circular arguments;  * ensures that we can see what's supposed to be an unsupported assumption, which has to be agreed to for the argument to go through; * allows us to check whether any assumptions require further justification (ie cannot be justified by broad agreement or obviousness); * allows us to go through and check each inference step, in a way which is more difficult in an argument that's written out in text, and very difficult if we're just talking to someone and trying to get their argument -- or, thinking to ourselves about our own arguments. In other words, both of these techniques help stop you when you try to do something wrong, because the structure of the visuals help you see mistakes. Your proposed diagrams don't have this feature, because you have to stop yourself, IE you have to make a line crooked to indicate that the inference was biased.

It's a feature if the benefits of a more comprehensive model outweigh the costs. Whether that's true in this case is another question.

No, it is a bug in virtually all cases. A model which depicts a broad class of phenomena in a single way is a bad model unless the class of phenomena are actually very similar along the axis the model is trying to capture. These phenomena are not similar along any useful axis. In fact, there is no observable criterion you could choose to distinguish the examples depicted as biased from the examples depicted as correct. A biased inference, a correct inference where no bias you know of played a substantial role, an instance where multiple biases canceled out, an instance where you overcompensated for bias (e.g. "the world isn't actually dangerous, so that guy at the bus top with a drawn knife probably doesn't actually mean me harm"), and a Gettier case are all structurally identical. This diagram format is a pure placebo and any value you perceive it to have given you is incorrectly attributed.

I think I see what you're saying, but let me know if I've misinterpreted it.

Let's look at the planning fallacy example. First, I would argue it is entirely possible to be aware of the existence of the planning fallacy and be aware that you are personally subject to it while not knowing exactly how to eliminate it. So you might draw up a diagram showing the bias visually before searching or brainstorming a debiasing method for it.

According to Daniel Kahneman, “Using… distributional information from other ventures similar to that... (read more)

The point Czynski is making is that the diagram does not help us do that. Using the diagram, we mark an inference with a crooked line if we recognize that it is biased, and a straight line if we think it's unbiased. So if we forget a given bias, the diagram does not help us remember to e.g. take the outside view. Let's say the diagram had three spots: evidence, prior, conclusion. And let's say the diagram is a visual representation of Bayes' Law. (I don't know how to draw a diagram like that, but for the sake of argument, let's pretend.) Then you would be forced to take the outside view in order to come up with a prior. So that kind of diagram would actually help you do the right thing instead of the wrong thing (at least for some biases).
You have not so much misinterpreted it as failed to understand it at all. Drawing the diagram visually does literally nothing to make the situation in any way clearer. It adds no information which you did not have beforehand. There does not appear to be anything about this diagram format that could be used to add new information even in principle. You have replaced "I think this will take X hours; however, planning fallacy." with a drawing that depicts "I think this will take X hours; however, planning fallacy." This is not helpful. It is almost a type error to think that this could be helpful.

That makes sense; they are intentionally somewhat fluid so they can adapt to capture a wider variety of biases/phenomena. I'm trying to use the same framework to visualize emotional reactions and behavioral habits.

Capturing a wide variety of phenomena is a bug, not a feature.