Bryan Caplan  

Here is Wisdom

PRINT
Defending Freakonomics... Offshorable Jobs...

From Eliezer at Overcoming Bias:

There is an old Jewish joke: During Yom Kippur, the rabbi is seized by a sudden wave of guilt, and prostrates himself and cries, "God, I am nothing before you!" The cantor is likewise seized by guilt, and cries, "God, I am nothing before you!" Seeing this, the janitor at the back of the synagogue prostrates himself and cries, "God, I am nothing before you!" And the rabbi nudges the cantor and whispers, "Look who thinks he's nothing."

Take no pride in your confession that you too are biased; do not glory in your self-awareness of your flaws... [W]e should not gloat over how self-aware we are for confessing them; the occasion for rejoicing is when we have a little less to confess.

Otherwise, when the one comes to us with a plan for correcting the bias, we will snarl, "Do you think to set yourself above us?" We will shake our heads sadly and say, "You must not be very self-aware."

Never confess to me that you are just as flawed as I am unless you can tell me what you plan to do about it. Afterward you will still have plenty of flaws left, but that's not the point; the important thing is to do better, to keep moving ahead, to take one more step forward.


Comments and Sharing





COMMENTS (3 to date)
mgroves writes:

I don't think being biased and admitting it is a flaw. Everyone and almost everything is biased, the sooner we admit that, the sooner we can get beyond name calling and sink into the meat of the arguments.

Barkley Rosser writes:

Ah, but one-upping those around you with your ability to brag about how more conscious one is of one's biases and flaws can indeed be pretty obnoxious. The original joke cited by Eliezer is just plain great.

Is there anywhere on the Overcoming Bias blog where they define what they mean by "bias"? I have looked briefly but not found their definition. When I was a teenager bias was a voltage applied to the grid of a triode (a kind of vacuum tube): a necessary thing, not a bad thing.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top