Complexity bias: true or false?

SlavaOn

Jedi Master
This is a good analysis of what is the complexity bias is:
Complexity Bias: Why We Prefer Complicated to Simple

I mostly agree with the author, but this part:
Conspiracy theories are the ultimate symptom of our desire to find complexity in the world. We don’t want to acknowledge that the world is entropic...
Conspiracy theories are invariably far more complex than reality. Although education does reduce the chances of someone’s believing in conspiracy theories, one in five Americans with postgraduate degrees still hold conspiratorial beliefs.

Shane stated it <the bolded part> as an axiom. Am I correct in saying, that the majority of people, that participate in this forum are highly educated and they do believe in some "conspiracy" theories? Thusly, debunking the above statement...
 

mkrnhr

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Things should be simple but no simpler. To overcomplicate and over simplify are equally bad. Most people tend to oversimplify because it's easier. Both those who see conspiracies everywhere and those who believe authorities uncritically base their thinking on oversimplified worldviews.
 

Joe

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
This is a good analysis of what is the complexity bias is:
Complexity Bias: Why We Prefer Complicated to Simple

I mostly agree with the author, but this part:

Shane stated it <the bolded part> as an axiom. Am I correct in saying, that the majority of people, that participate in this forum are highly educated and they do believe in some "conspiracy" theories? Thusly, debunking the above statement...

This guy has it backwards IMO. People who reject conspiracy theories out of hand are constitutionally driven to do that because complexity is difficult for them, NOT EASY, and they seek simplicity predictability and control. Complexity is difficult for most people, we're all 'wired' to want to make sense of the world, ideally in the simplest way possible to reduce the effort involved, but some people are able to put in more effort. They're called 'conspiracy theorists' by the 'simple minded', yet that is just because they are able to see more and hold more variables and more complexity in their minds at the same time. For them, the desire for the truth trumps the biological urge to seek the 'path of least resistance'.

Conspiracy theories don't posit an oversimplified version of reality, as some people claim, but a more complex one. For one example, when 'conspiracy theorists' claim that governments are engaged in conspiracies, the usual response to that is "things are more simple, they're not evil, they're just stupid/make mistakes'. That is clearly a more simple version of reality than that posed by 'conspiracy theorists'.

In that article, the guy says

We often find it easier to face a complex problem than a simple one.

A person who feels tired all the time might insist that their doctor check their iron levels while ignoring the fact that they are unambiguously sleep deprived. Someone experiencing financial difficulties may stress over the technicalities of their telephone bill while ignoring the large sums of money they spend on cocktails.

This doesn't seem correct to me. What he is describing here is a narrative not a "complexity bias". The person who goes for the iron levels instead of sleep or the telephone bill instead of cocktails does so because they (mostly unconsciously) want to keep the late nights and cocktails, not because those answers are more "simple" than the others.

In the task he mentions where participants had to establish an arithmetic rule, participants were using pattern recognition, not "complexity bias". They were going for the most simple explanation of the rule associated with the series of numbers, 2, 4, 6.

The guy's overall problem in the article (apart from a lack of understanding of human psychology) seems to be a belief that all humans are fundamentally the same and at the same 'level'. That's clearly untrue, and in fact, that is what produces a lot of complexity when trying to view the world as a whole.

When he says:

Uscinski and Parent found that, just as uncertainty led Skinner’s pigeons to see complexity where only randomness existed, a sense of losing control over the world around us increases the likelihood of our believing in conspiracy theories.

Again, I think he has it backwards. It is the "conspiratorial" suggestion that the world is much more complex than we can imagine that provokes a sense of losing control in some people - i.e. the loss of the ability to understand the world in simple, predictable, consistent, and unalarming ways - and increases the likelihood that they will REJECT conspiracy theories.
 
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Things should be simple but no simpler. To overcomplicate and over simplify are equally bad. Most people tend to oversimplify because it's easier. Both those who see conspiracies everywhere and those who believe authorities uncritically base their thinking on oversimplified worldviews.

Yes, I think the author of this article is guilty of "simplification bias" and has a large dose of confirmation bias. They are trying to account for many biases and put them all under one " simple" bias.

I get what the author is trying to say, and I agree, I have seen lots of cases of it and makes sense, it's part of life, but not always. There was no attempt to falsify any of his many examples, some of which were absurd.

I hope the author does not have type 2 diabetes and following the american diabetes association guidelines, but alas, I'm probably overcomplicating things.
 

Metrist

Jedi Council Member
Once something is understood, it becomes simple. And in the course of finding understanding, there is complexity. So, what is simple and what is complex is the truth - surrounded by possibility, and they are both parts of the phenomena, and then it is a matter of describing the parts of the phenomena you wish to start from - and leave it where it started, except you may want to change it first to the focus you want, then leave it there.

So, modern life is mechanized and automated, and many are left with nothing to do but make excuses for themselves and place importance on their thoughts, and so if you can convince others of your perspective, you gain fellowship in being able to make your perspective eminent, and reap the reward of having influence. And so it is like a race where people clamour for a piece of the pie, and the ones who get the most are the ones who have mastered the art of BS over the others who just want to do their service.

But it isn't all a scam, it's a dynamic system that described - is but a perspective that can only come from a starting point, and end where it started, and don't account for it's dynamic, living property. And so since many use BS, they can't speak of the dynamics, because that undermines their excuses and influence. And so everything is narrowed to perspective. But it remains that things are much larger and broader than their scope, it's just that they want you to think inside their sphere, and be channeled by their BS.
 
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