Interacting minds:
Since we are after the truth here, and since the truth can accomplish nothing unless it is accepted as such, I took an interest in this article. (Bahador Bahrami et al Optimally Interacting Minds SCIENCE vol. 329 no. … August 27, 2010 page … sorry the page number and issue number didn’t come through on my copy) What the researchers were interested in was whether indeed two heads are better than one.  If two people are asked to make a decision, in this case it was assessing a visual scene, is it possible that the combination of two can be more accurate than one person alone.

The researchers looked at four different ways the two observers could cooperate.  One thing they found was that a very astute observer would do better alone than in collaboration with a less astute one. 

All right.  I see what nobody else seems to care about – that the survival of a population depends on a sufficient degree of consanguinity in a sufficient number of couples.  I find it hard to believe that such an important concept really meets with indifference.  What could be more important than avoiding extinction?  All right, maybe your immortal soul is more important to you, but if souls are important, life must exist for there to be souls so you are back where you started from. 

In the case where observers are of roughly equal ability there is only one way found by the article by which the two can reach a consensus that is better than what the better observer can do alone.  Since I am not a total ego maniac (although I come pretty close) it is not conceivable that the dozens of experts and the tens of thousands who do not identify themselves are all total duds.  (All right.  There are a couple or three exceptions whose help I must acknowledge, but they are exceedingly rare.) 

Given two observers of comparable ability, the strategy for arriving at the best opinion is for each to provide both an opinion and an estimate of how certain the observer is of the opinion.  I have been out argued when I was right in the past.  Perhaps I should have been more dogmatic.  But my general attitude is, give ‘em the evidence and let ‘em make up their own minds.  This appears not to be the best strategy.

So for the record let me say that I am convinced to an exceptional degree.  To the extent anybody can be sure of anything, I am sure.  I would say I would stake my life on it, but that would be far too cheap.  Compared with human survival, a single life means little.  I mean I would stake my life on it.  But I would stake my life on it even if I were not sure, if let’s say there was a one in a thousand chance I might be completely mistaken.  In this case I am far more certain than that.  The mountains of evidence coming from so many different directions reduces the chance of error to far less than one in seven billion, which is about the number of people in the world. 

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