Friday, November 10, 2006

On Scott's mind 1: Finding causality

I just read "On the origin of preference" which extended the arguments in comment section of Econ101: Preference, questioning the origin of preference. Check out their blogs! His writing about Indonesia is consistently of high quality.

Using the question of "what is the origin of preference", I will show you how Scott Adams preference influences his approach to this question. :-)

Due to his obsession with occam's razor, he will try to find the simplest explanation on the origin of preference. The wittier it is, the more likely he will choose that explanation. He will also use evolution argument if possible since "survival of the fittest" is arguably a robust and flexible argument, that is evolution argument can support anything as long as you can explain how this anything gives human more chance to successfully reproduce. If the explanation is mocking humanity, it will be considered better.

Also consider that "What is the origin of preference" is open to various interpretation, where one of the interpretation might be answerable in a concise and witty manner.

Considering all of the above, I think he will answer that the origin of preference is cognitive dissonance. Here is how he might argue:

Given that we are allowed to twist the meaning of "preference" a bit, there is no constraint on whether preference influence decision or decision influence preference. Hell, we can even ignore the fact that cognitive dissonance has a complicated relationship with preference. Given this latitude, we can say that cognitive dissonance causes people to prefer anything they did. If the same person did an opposite thing, he would prefer the opposite thing too.

Also consider preference seems to change over time and events. If things happened and someone was forced to do things they didn't prefer, they would slowly have a preference at doing that things.

This kind of answer indignify humanity, which is something scott likes to do.

This answer also has an evolutionary argument component. Note that people whose cognitive dissonance does not change their preference, are more likely to die of boredom because they do things they don't prefer. If they die of boredom, they have less chance to reproduce. On the other hand, people whose cognitive dissonance changes their preference, will have more chance to reproduce since they are less likely to die of boredom.

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