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Is Inequality The Product Of Cognitive Biases?

DonaldMcIntyre          3 May 2015 04:46 PM




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Dahlen 3 May 2015 05:36 PM
75%

There are many kinds of inequality; I'm assuming you mean social stratification into status groups (formal or informal hierarchy), rather than ability inequality or even strictly economic inequality.

At the core of it, I'd say no. Hierarchy arises out of an appetite for domination, that can exist as a terminal goal even among hypothetical perfectly rational beings. Whenever it works to do so, it can be justified through arguments that exploit flaws in human reasoning, but those are not a necessary condition.

By the way, this is going out on a limb, but the question can also be interpreted as whether a desire for egalitarianism, or the perception of inequality (and the need to combat it), is the product of cognitive biases.


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melian 4 May 2015 02:57 PM
71%

How people are perceived by others is an important factor. Still, cultural traditions, parental socioeconomic status and genetics are probably much more important.
Some groups (e.g., East Asian emigrants) tend to rise in almost any cultural environment, be it in Europe, Africa or Latin America. If cognitive biases were the dominant factor, success and failure would vary strongly depending on the local culture.


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DonaldMcIntyre 3 May 2015 05:08 PM
63%

My first impression regarding this issue is that yes, inequality is the product of cognitive biases, fallacies, bad heuristics, and other erroneous information packets.

Examples:

Group thinking: I belong to a group and the fate of that group is my fate, therefore I need to benefit members of my group and discriminate against people of other groups.

Stereotypes: A guy with a hoodie in a dark alley must be dangerous, if he is Black or Latino even more.

Association: If I mingle with rich people I might get rich myself.

Lazy vs hard working fallacy: The poor are lazy and the rich are hard working, therefore their wealth situation is fair.

Free market for the sake of free markets: Network effects, increasing returns, corruption, unfair practices, etc. don't exist, wealth is only the product of fair market distribution.

Small or big government as opposed to sound government: Government only subtracts value or government is the only way to makes things fair.


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melian 3 May 2015 06:14 PM
69%

inequality is the product of cognitive biases, fallacies, bad heuristics, and other erroneous information packets. Examples:

Stereotypes: A guy with a hoodie in a dark alley must be dangerous, if he is Black or Latino even more.


Isn't this stereotype statistically correct?

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DonaldMcIntyre 4 May 2015 09:03 AM
65%

I don't know the statistics, but the question is if biases in general create inequality, you can leave this example out.

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Fwiffo 7 May 2015 03:18 PM
57%

Even if it is correct it might still be a problematic way of handling danger. You wouldn't profile a might-be-criminal by the shoe brand that they wear. It can also be argued that black people are treated like criminals where the belief is part of the mechanism that makes it come true. If you see a gun on someone that is dangerous. If you see a knife that sure can do damage. But what can one do with a dark skin? Blind you? Or blend into shadows? Usually these types of effects are not meant or emoted about. That is even if it owuld be valid to fear that you fear for the wrong reasons can have consequences (one big is that by using bad indicators of danger you label some non-dangerous situations as dangerous).

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VoiceOfRa 3 May 2015 10:48 PM
61%

Yes, the better you are at overcoming your cognitive biases (and at instrumental rationality more generally), the higher your status is going to be.


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DanielLC 4 May 2015 01:15 PM
67%

But if you're above average to start with, raising your status will only increase inequality.

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VoiceOfRa 4 May 2015 07:33 PM
62%

That's my point.


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antat 4 May 2015 09:23 PM
67%

I don't see a relationship between "overcoming biases" and increasing status. I could see a relationship in an individual not caring about status as a terminal value (in and of itself), but a lack of bias affect how others see you? I don't see the connection.

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VoiceOfRa 7 May 2015 06:28 PM
63%

Lack of bias makes it easier to, say, run a successful business, which affects who much money you have, which affects your status.


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