↑ comment by Viliam ·
2015-04-20T10:25:16.728Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Yes, it is difficult to maintain balance when the other person is pushing in some direction. You feel the instinct to push the other way, as if to provide a balance on average. The problem is, balance on the average means imbalance in your head, if the other person is unbalanced.
It's like when we have a debate about how much is 2+2, and the other person insists that it is 3, then when I say 4, there is a risk that in the future we will achieve a compromise value of 3.5, which I already perceive as wrong. So people have the social instinct to say at least 5, so that the future compromise value may be 4. Even if they originally did not really believe it was 5.
One possible solution would be to make everyone write their opinion before hearing the opinions of others. But that can be done in artificial settings, not in real life -- we usually already heard the opinions of some people. Also, if we have iterated debates about the same topic (e.g. the vacations), we can already predict what our partner will say.
To me it simply means that to have a rational debate, it is better to exclude the people who are strongly mindkilled about something. (Obviously, deciding who they are, is a problem on a higher level.) Maintaining balance is difficult on its own, and almost impossible when someone keeps pushing you on one side: you either fall on the side you are pushed, or you tilt to the opposite direction and fall down later when you are alone. We should not overestimate our own ability to be reasonable in difficult situations.
I could totally see how it would make sense in groups that some members adopt some low probability beliefs, and that it would benefit the group overall.
I can imagine a debate where you flip a coin and you either present your true opinion, or you role-play a selected opinion. Problem is, how would you create the set of the role-played opinions?
What if you forget to include something important? What if most of the supposedly "random" opinions are actually variants of one side (which is already overrepresented in the sincere part of debate), and the other side is underrepresented (and some third side is completely absent). That would be quite likely if people who prepare the "random" options are from the same population as the sincerely debating ones: they would add many minor variants of their own opinion, because those would sound meaningful; and then a few obvious strawmen of their enemies, to create a feeling of a fulfilled duty.