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2009-12-11
Overestimating or Underestimating the Proportion Who Agree with You
I wonder which way it tends to go.  On the one hand, various psychological results suggest that people overestimate the degree to which others agree with them.  On the other hand, it seems to me anecdotally that philosophers often feel that they are a lonely voice of truth in a crowd of errors.

This would be easy to check, if the data are compiled in the right way.

2009-12-30
Overestimating or Underestimating the Proportion Who Agree with You

Hi Eric,

I'm also interested in this question.  It seems to go both ways depending on the issue.

What are some of the ways you think it would be easy to check for this?  You need to survey for perceptions of consensus right?  To compare with real survey results?

I've always thought that free will compatibilism (my view) was a minority position.  Happy to see it has the highest consensus in this survey, but I've always figured that expert philosophers (the target of this survey) were compatibilists, while the general population is not.

I've always thought that the view that perception is representational was a minority view, even among expert philosophers.  Surprisingly, this, also, seems to be in the consensus here, though I suspect that a decade ago, it was much less well accepted?  Would anyone else agree?

It is definitely fun to find other people that agree with you, and to know definitively who disagrees with you and why.  The consciousness survey project we are working on at canonizer.com has sure been surprizing.  Though it takes much more work for the participators, it much more definitively defines what people do and do not agree with.  I'm always surprized to find out how many people do agree with me, and in various lessor important ways how they still disagree.

Brent Allsop









2009-12-30
Overestimating or Underestimating the Proportion Who Agree with You

Hi Brent.  Anyone with access to the full dataset with linkage between survey results and metasurvey results could easily test for this.  (I'm kind of hoping Dave and Dave might.)  Question-by-question, look at those endorsing A and whether they under- or over-estimate the proportion endorsing A and whether they are more likely to do so than those endorsing B.


2009-12-31
Overestimating or Underestimating the Proportion Who Agree with You
Just computed the stats on this. There's an overall tendency for proponents of a given position to rate its popularity higher than its opponents rate it. This is particularly pronounced for these positions: death/survival, invariantism, zombies possible, communitarian, qualia/representationalism, no-switch/switch, fregean/millian, epistemic theory of truth, deontology, nonskeptical realism. For these positions there are differences of between 8% and 15% between the average normalized estimates of proponents and opponents. There are a few positions whose popularity is rated higher by their opponents than their proponents: scientific anti-realism, all the internalisms/externalisms, idealism. The differences are smaller in those cases, though (between 1% and 5%).

2009-12-31
Overestimating or Underestimating the Proportion Who Agree with You
Reply to David Bourget
That's interesting, David, thanks!  It fits with the general psychological tendency to overestimate how much people agree with you and suggests that the feeling of besiegement often expressed in introductions to philosophy articles is to some extent rhetorical flourish (though there may be big individual differences in feeling of besiegement or consensus).

I'm trying to think what anti-realism, internalism/externalism, and idealism might have in common that explains their being outside the norm in that way, but nothing leaps to mind.

On the issue of individual differences, one could look for correlations across questions: Are those who overrate (or underrate) agreement with their own position on one question more likely to overrate (or underrate) agreement on other questions too?