31.10.02

FASCINATING STUFF. Atlantic Blog has discovered Haggai's place, published by a graduate student in mathematics at the University of Michigan. The post I've linked to makes use of the Ellsberg Paradox (yes, that Daniel Ellsberg) in decision theory, the fundamental point of which is definite information is preferable to ambiguity. The connection to the debate over war on Iraq is this: "It is of the utmost importance right now that we understand that the decision to go to war is ideological, not informational: the reason people disagree vehemently about war in Iraq is not that the facts on the ground or the true prospects of American military success are being kept hidden. What they disagree about is under what conditions and by what means the United States should try to affect the governance of other countries. It's not what we know but what we believe in that makes all the difference." To which I can only add: and in the case of a war with Iraq, will the outcome be sufficiently decisive for debaters to renounce their prior beliefs? That's the part of these decision theory paradoxes that interests me: how much evidence does someone require to change one's prior. It's easy enough to model, but darned difficult to observe.

No comments: