Bayesianism

The status quo bias is an emotional bias that has a preference for the current state of affairs. Consumerism could be an example of something that reinforces the status quo bias. This is because products and their advertisement carry prescribed attitudes, habits, and emotional reactions. Because consumerism is driven by profit, and not the well-being of the consumers, these ‘prescriptions’ provide affirmation over information. This reinforces beliefs consistent with the current mental models of consumers: that there is value in extrinsic goods that provide you with (1) pleasure without meaning, and (2) materialistic social status.

A healthy information diet + accountability to follow one’s own advice may be an effective approach to overcome bias. This may be vital for the progression of society given technology’s coupling with the extraction of addictive qualities, thus creating an acceleration of addictiveness. Unfortunately, most people won’t be able to adopt cultural antibodies against new addictions fast enough, “which means that as the world becomes more addictive, the two senses in which one can live a normal life will be driven ever further apart. One sense of ‘normal’ is statistically normal: what everyone else does. The other is the sense we mean when we talk about the normal operating range of a piece of machinery: what works best.” (Paul Graham)

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Bayesianism attempts to find “what works best.” Bayesian here refers to the idea of updating a prior model with evidence to get a posterior model. If the new evidence is appropriately integrated then the models will consistently improve.

Therefor, Bayesianism is fundamentally a function that represents a quality of change. This includes (1) where the person is coming from (the prior), (2) where the individual lies in relation to change, and (3) the way a person transitions from one mental model to another.

The prior is important because it determines how we interpret any event and the new information we get. #2 is important because Bayesians, like the theories they hold, must expose themselves to falsification. #3 is important because of the archetypes below:

Consider a person who holds a value X. Now suppose the person gets new evidence that supports another value Y, and that this new evidence also discredits value X. How does this person react in light of the new evidence? Character should be judged at its worst, so lets assume that replacing value Y with X would cause this person to suffer. There are many ways one could react. It could be with: (1) hatred, and wounded pride. (2) justification by calling the world evil. (3) fear, and forget about the new evidence, thus clinging to X, and forgetting Y. (4) understanding and acceptance. (5) cynicism, blaming the ignorance of the prior. (6) curiosity.

Valid Bayesian transitions include #4, #5 and #6 because those are the cases where the individual’s mental model authentically updates. However, curiosity is the ideal.

Bayesianism is an approach at constructing a memeplex that works best. It focuses on evidence (outside view) and experience (inside view). It seems that those motivated towards Bayesianism have a desire of wanting logically consistent narratives of both oneself and reality (aka coherence), while simultaneously understanding that any given observation has many different possible causes (i.e. narratives to a large extent are arbitrary, works of historical fiction, dramatic interpretations).

Insofar as the future favors a progression towards rationality, Bayesianism seems like an effective foundational approach to living in the future.

“A perfect Bayesian is someone who processes all information perfectly, and always arrives at the best conclusions that can be drawn from the data. When we talk about Bayesianism, that’s the ideal we aim for.”Kaj_Sotala

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