Modesty Argument

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The Modesty Argument states that when two or more human beings have common knowledge that they disagree about a question of simple fact, they should each adjust their probability estimates in the direction of the others'. (For example, they might adopt the common mean of their probability distributions. If we use the logarithmic scoring rule, then the score of the average of a set of probability distributions is better than the average of the scores of the individual distributions, by Jensen's inequality.)

Put more simply: When you disagree with someone, even after talking over your reasons, the Modesty Argument claims that you should each adjust your probability estimates toward the other's, and keep doing this until you agree. The Modesty Argument is inspired by Aumann's Agreement Theorem, a very famous and oft-generalized result which shows that genuine Bayesians literally cannot agree to disagree; if genuine Bayesians have common knowledge of their individual probability estimates, they must all have the same probability estimate. ("Common knowledge" means that I know you disagree, you know I know you disagree, etc.)

--EY

The Modesty Argument was at least partially refuted by Eliezer Yudkowsky in the article: The Modesty Argument


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