All of ed_johnson's Comments + Replies

Positive Bias: Look Into the Dark

Constant made an important point: infinitely many rules are consistent with the evidence no matter how many instances you test. Therefore any guess you make must be influenced by prior expectations. And like lusispedro said, based on experience students probably put a lot more weight on rules based on simple equations than rules based on inequalities.

I'm sure I could get the percentage of people who guess correctly down to 0% by simply choosing the perfectly valid rule: "sequences (a,b,c) such that EITHER a less than b less than c OR b is a multiple of 73."

Why? Because rules of that sort are given low weight in subjects' priors.

Fake Explanations

I agree with AC...you're being too hard on the students. I doubt very much they were stating anything with confidence. It's quite possible that some of them didn't really care about understanding physics and were just trying to get the right answer to please the teacher, but others were probably just thinking out loud. Thinking "maybe it's heat conduction" might just be the first step to thinking "no, it can't be heat conduction," or even to realizing "I don't really understand heat conduction," and there is nothing wrong w... (read more)

I think that EY's problem with this point of view is a typical one that I find here at LW: a consideration of the rational thinker as loner in heroic mode, who is expected to ignore all contexts (social, environmental, whatever) that are not explicitly stated as part of the problem presentation. On the other hand, these students were in a physics class, and the question is obviously not part of normal conversation.