Future of Humanity Institute - Future of Humanity Institute. Less Wrong: Self-fulfilling correlations. Correlation does not imply causation.
Sometimes corr(X,Y) means X=>Y; sometimes it means Y=>X; sometimes it means W=>X, W=>Y. And sometimes it's an artifact of people's beliefs about corr(X, Y). With intelligent agents, perceived causation causes correlation. Volvos are believed by many people to be safe. Volvo has an excellent record of being concerned with safety; they introduced 3-point seat belts, crumple zones, laminated windshields, and safety cages, among other things. Presumably, you'd look at the accident rate for Volvos compared to the accident rate for similar cars driven by a similar demographic, as reflected, for instance in insurance rates. Perceived causation causes correlation No. Do Montessori schools or home-schooling result in better scores on standardized tests? Are vegetarian diets or yoga healthy for you?
Conditions under which this occurs This won't happen if your motivation or attitude has no bearing on the outcome (beyond your choice of X). Dynamic inconsistency. In economics, dynamic inconsistency, or time inconsistency, describes the situation: A decision-maker's preferences change over time, in such a way that a preference, at one point in time, is inconsistent with a preference at another point in time.
It is often easiest to think about preferences over time in this context by thinking of decision-makers as being made up of many different "selves", with each self representing the decision-maker at a different point in time. So, for example, there is my today self, my tomorrow self, my next Tuesday self, my year from now self, etc. The inconsistency will occur when somehow the preferences of some of the selves are not aligned with each other. One type of inconsistency is more closely affiliated with game theory, and "dynamic inconsistency" is the more commonly used terminology in this case. Lucas critique. The Lucas critique, named for Robert Lucas' work on macroeconomic policymaking, argues that it is naive to try to predict the effects of a change in economic policy entirely on the basis of relationships observed in historical data, especially highly aggregated historical data. The basic idea pre-dates Lucas' contribution (related ideas are expressed as Campbell's Law and Goodhart's Law), but in a 1976 paper, Lucas drove to the point that this simple notion invalidated policy advice based on conclusions drawn from large-scale macroeconometric models.
Because the parameters of those models were not structural, i.e. not policy-invariant, they would necessarily change whenever policy (the rules of the game) was changed. Policy conclusions based on those models would therefore potentially be misleading. This argument called into question the prevailing large-scale econometric models that lacked foundations in dynamic economic theory. Lucas summarized his critique: Examples Brain Workshop - a Dual N-Back game. Epistemology. Practical Ethics. Experimental Philosophy. I've been thinking a great deal lately about how best to study moral judgment.
Let me say a few things myself, but I hope others will be able to chime in and share ideas, especially since I'm in the process of designing some studies. What's best to measure? So far it seems most researchers focus on measuring something other than what we might call purely "evaluative judgments," such as whether someone did something good or bad. This seems right to me since these don't necessarily constitute judgments about whether an action is right or wrong, which is paradigmatically a moral verdict. Moreover, this just seems to be the main target of most people doing research on moral judgment. So I think rightly the focus has been instead on what we might call "deontic judgments" such as whether an act is right/wrong, permissible/impermissible, etc. How best to measure it? Some researchers present participants with a forced, dichotomous choice. Another approach is to present subjects with scales. Overcoming Bias.