Origin of variance heuristic

A possible summary of what has been going on

You might have notice that I’m a fan of Gigerenzer. One of his ideas (or rather Herbert Simon’s) that I really like is that rationality is the result of the mind and the environment functioning in unison. (The limitations of the mind as one blade, and the structure of the environment as the other blade, of a pair of scissors that, if adequate, cut correctly.) This lends itself really well to the idea of manipulating the environment to fit the structure of the mind (and Gigerenzer has explored this by presenting events in terms of frequencies instead of probabilities). Another part of this is the creation of heuristics adequate to a particular environment.

One thing that unites some former posts is a concern with map-making: From general considerations, to analysis of the properties of the terrain, dividing the lands, observations about the strange lands of the social and how to map those, thoughts about how the mappings affect the territory, limits of the  map-making mechanism, failure modes, and even whether a map is necessary at all.

My response to various challenges has been, inspired by Gigerenzer, the creation of heuristics to be used on certain domains that go beyond the limits of the map-makers and of naive conceptions of the domains to be mapped.

Origin of variance

One such heuristic which I have hinted at previously is the origin of variance heuristic.

Here is how it works. For any particular topic in which an opinion is held, and you care about, you want to figure out what things would have to change for that opinion to change. What would make the mind of the one holding the belief change the belief?

Sometimes the answer is nothing in actuality (Religious fundamentalists, probably). Sometimes the answer is birthplace in potentiality (Religious fundamentalists, probably.)

A position that is not contingent on such factors is invariant on them: that is, you would have ended up holding it independent of these factors.

What is the opinion contingent on? What is it invariant under? In potentiality and actuality?

This heuristic can be used in two senses:

  1. What would make you change your mind?
    1. In actuality
    2. In potentiality

Ideally you want beliefs that are invariant in potentiality, beliefs that you would, with a high change, reached across various possible worlds. You also want your beliefs to be variant, in actuality, with facts, with what is the case – and nothing else.







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