Two thirds of what we see is behind our eyes. Homo Sapiens: wise humans


decorative star graphic

 Top of Page


Links:    •  Crossword
               •  Self Test
                •  Print Ready Version
                 •  SP Topic Areas

We often are swayed more by anecdotes than statistical facts

Ψ  Reasons for Unreason

    Ψ  Four reasons for unreason - common ways in which we form or sustain false beliefs:

    •  Preconceptions (often colored by overconfidence) control interpretations.
     •  Swayed by vivid anecdotes rather than statistics. (Availability Heuristic - Base Rate

      •  Misperceive correlation & control. (Illusory correlation - Illusion of Control)
       •  Beliefs can generate conclusions. (self-fulfilling prophecies)

    Ψ  The availability heuristic (a.k.a. The Anecdotal Fallacy) is a rule that we tend to apply when we make judgments. This mental shortcut suggests that we give importance to things that are easier to recall to mind & we give less importance to things that are harder to recall. There are circumstances in which the Availability Heuristic leads to false results. Unusual events do happen, & if they happen to us then we tend to overestimate their likeliness when using the heuristic.

    Ψ  The Base Rate Fallacy, also called base rate neglect or base rate bias, is a formal fallacy which expounds our tendency to ignore information that describes most people and to be influenced by the distinctive features of the case being studied. If presented with related base rate information (i.e. generic, general information) and specific information (information only pertaining to a certain case), the mind tends to ignore the former and focus on the latter.

    Ψ  The Base Rate Fallacy encompasses the belief that probability rates are false. When presented with statistics about the population as a whole, people tend to ignore them & think about themselves as completely different entities. For example someone has the symptoms of a disease which takes two forms, both fatal, requiring two different medicines. Only one medicine can be taken & medicine A does not work for form B of the disease & medicine B does not work for form A of the disease. Form A of the disease occurs 10% of the time in the population whilst form B occurs 90% of the time. After taking an 80% reliable A/B test it says that this person has form A of the disease. Therefore this person is likely to take the treatment for form A of the disease despite a 20% chance that he could have form B & only 10% of people in the population have form A. This is because people are not concerned with statistics, they are concerned with themselves.

    Ψ  An illusory correlation can occur when two things that "stand out" or are more salient are seen as going together, when in actuality there is no relationship between them.

    Ψ  Illusion of control is the tendency for human beings to believe they can control, or at least influence, outcomes that they demonstrably have no influence over.

       •  Illusion of control involves the idea that chance events are subject to our influence, e.g. when gambling. Research has found that people act as if they can predict or control chance outcomes.

       •  Illusion of control arises when we fail to recognize the phenomenon of regression towards the average (mean). Regression toward the mean is the tendency for any series mathematical events to average out. This simply means that events like extreme test scores or 'holes-in-one' tend to happen rarely. We can't count on them to repeat, but occasionally we do.

    Ψ  The concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy (a.k.a. the Pygmalion effect) can be summarized as follows;

•  Expectations of people or events are formed.
 •  The expectations with various cues are communicated.
  •  People tend to respond to these cues by changing their
       behavior to match them.
    •  The original expectation then becomes true.

It's a Mickey Mouse World , isn't it?

    Ψ  A special type of self-fulfilling prophecy that has engendered particular interest among social psychologists is behavioral confirmation, in which people's social expectations lead then to behave in ways that cause others to confirm their expectations.

Social Psychology
  Robert C. Gates

What good fortune for those in power that people do not think - Adolph Hitler