Aaron’s Disagreement Principle

Why do we disagree with each other?

This is a stupid question. But it’s not quite as stupid as it sounds. One winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics is famous for proving that people should never disagree with each other.

Okay, okay, it isn’t quite that easy. There are conditions we need to meet first.

The best informal description I’ve heard of Aumann’s Agreement Theorem:

Mutually respectful, honest and rational debaters cannot disagree on any factual matter once they know each other’s [beliefs]. They cannot “agree to disagree”, they can only agree to agree.

Sadly, when Robert Aumann says “rational”, he refers to a formal definition of rationality that applies to zero real humans.

But I think we can make his theory simpler: Instead of “both people are perfectly rational”, we can say that “both people have the same value system”.

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Google Experiment #1: Shared Humanity and Willingness to Help

It’s very cheap to experiment on people these days.

For ~$100 and ~5 hours of my time, I used Google Consumer Surveys (GCS) to collect over 800 responses to the following question:

Famine threatens Ethiopia. Thousands of lives are at risk, but U.S. help could save them. How important is it that the U.S. give $9 million in food aid to these Ethiopians?

This wasn’t just curiosity. This was an experiment. My question had three possible endings:

  1. …food aid to these Ethiopians?
  2. …food aid to these men and women?
  3. …food aid to these human beings?

 

We all know that Ethiopians are human beings, of course. But do our actions reflect that knowledge?

At least one study found evidence that we’ll donate more money to help rescue someone from our country than someone from another country. (Kogut & Ritov, 2007)

I have a similar question: Are we more willing to help foreigners when they are framed as our fellow humans, rather than as people from some other country?

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Alpha Gamma Gives A Tour Of The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

Alpha Gamma Gives A Tour Of The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

Welcome to the Met! My name is Aaron, and I’ll be your tour guide today.

Come again?

Oh! It’s kind of a funny story, actually. I was supervising Finger-Painting Day last week, and this four-year-old spilled yellow paint all over my uniform! It’s still at the cleaners.

Of course they have spare uniforms. But they don’t fit me very well. I have an unusual hip-to-waist ratio. Also, broad shoulders.

Anyway, let’s get started!

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The Best Music of My 2015

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”

Thus, I’ll keep my writing to a minimum.

I listened to ~500 new albums and ~5000 new songs this year.

This means that I wasn’t paying enough attention to most of the music. But to make this list, a song had to catch my attention and keep my thumb on the replay button. Some of the best songs did for me what I imagine powerful drugs do for other people.
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The Best Movies of My 2015

I get fancy when I review books and music. Not so for movies.

This is a straight-up list of the films that moved me this year. The first on the list was the best. The ninth was the ninth-best.

Most of these weren’t released in 2015 — that’s just when I found them. Whatever year you live in, I’d recommend them all.

 

The Best Movies of My 2015 (list)

  1. Chronicle
  2. Summer Wars
  3. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring
  4. Three Colors: Blue
  5. Ip Man
  6. The Tribe
  7. Spy
  8. Gimme the Loot
  9. Nightcrawler
  10. The Smash Brothers // “Be Right Back” (Black Mirror)

 

The Best Movies of My 2015 (reviews)

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