Cynical about Confidence
By Arnold Kling
1. Mike Munger.
The problem is that our last two Presidents, first GWB and now BHO, are freakishly overconfident even by the standards of human males. Neither is capable of imagining that anyone actually disagrees with them, unless the disagreer is evil or a stone idiot.
He refers to a paper by Dominic D. P. Johnson and James H. Fowler, which argues that
overconfidence maximizes individual fitness and populations tend to become overconfident, as long as benefits from contested resources are sufficiently large compared with the cost of competition. In contrast, unbiased strategies are only stable under limited conditions. The fact that overconfident populations are evolutionarily stable in a wide range of environments may help to explain why overconfidence remains prevalent today, even if it contributes to hubris, market bubbles, financial collapses, policy failures, disasters and costly wars
2. Robin Hanson.
Yes, sometimes confidence can be in part about assigning a high probability, or about the robustness of an analysis. But more fundamentally, confidence may be about status moves. It is just that in some circumstances we makes status bids via asserting that some event is high probability
For example, by asserting that the probability of the truth of Keynesian economics is so high that anyone who expresses doubts is either evil or a stone idiot.
[Bryan, too, was struck by what Robin had to say. By the way, this post was scheduled before Bryan’s. I am doing more long-range scheduling of posts, in order to try and reinforce a habit of not reacting to short-term stuff.]