> 1. Say you’re the local economist for a state government. You have some actions you really would like the government to take, even though your colleagues wouldn’t typically approve. You’re around a +4 on [an arbitrary scale of knowledge about macroeconomics], and your most knowledgeable colleagues are around a +2. Could you get away with pretending that macroeconomics has a very confident stance that happens to align with what you want to see happen? How would you do so?

> 2. You’re a local radio intellectual who’s a +3 on the macroeconomic scale. Almost all of your listeners are below a +1.5. You’ve been essentially lying to them for some time about macroeconomic theory because it helps your political message. A professor who’s a +5 starts writing a few articles that call you out on your lies. How do you respond? [...]

> I think the answers I’d expect from these questions can be summarized in the phrase “Overconfident talking down, humble or hostile talking up.”

> When you’re communicating with people who know less than you, and you have little accountability from people who know more, then you generally have the option of claiming to be more knowledgeable than you are, and lying in ways that are useful to you.

> When you’re communicating with people who know more than you, you have two options. You can accept their greater state of knowledge, causing you to speak more honestly about the pertinent topics. Or, you could reject their credibility, claiming that they really don’t know more than you. Many people who know less than you both may believe you over them.

> There are many examples of this. One particularly good one may be the history of schisms in religious organizations. Religious authorities generally know a lot more about their respective religions than the majority of citizens. Each authority has a choice; they could either accept the knowledge of the higher authorities, or they could reject the higher authorities. If they reject above authority, they would be incentivized to discredit that authority and express overconfidence in their own new beliefs. If they succeed, some followers would believe them, giving them both the assumption of expertise and also the flexibility of not having to be accountable to other knowledgeable groups.
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