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It's called neglect of probability.
Our brains are great for doing a lot of things. Calculating probability is not one of them. That flaw colors every argument you've ever had, from the tax code down to that time your friend totally cheated you in a coin-flip. Getty This game exists because your brain is bad at math.
In this experiment involving electrocuting subjects presumably conducted by Dr. Peter Venkman scientists found people were willing to pay up to 20 dollars to avoid a 99 percent chance of a painful electric shock. But the same subjects would also be willing to pay up to seven dollars to avoid a tiny 1 percent chance of the same shock.
It turned out that the subjects had only the vaguest concept of what 99 percent or 1 percent even means.
All they could think about was the shock. Continue Reading Below Advertisement It's no surprise that we're bad at this, since the whole concept of measuring probability is a recent invention. Early man didn't have any concept of what percentage of bear encounters ended in being eaten.
He only knew that he didn't want to be eaten. Our brains are not meant to instinctively understand any equation more complex than this: That worked fine for a hunter-gatherer trying to avoid being devoured by a bear like his father was.
Continue Reading Below Advertisement As experts point out, when there is strong emotion tied to the unlikely event, our ability to continue to see it as unlikely goes out the window.
Thus, any statement of "It's very unlikely your child will be eaten by a bear, these bear traps in the yard are unnecessary and keep injuring the neighborhood kids" will always be answered with, "Say that when it's your child being eaten! Again, everybody does it. The only difference is which issue is so charged for us that we're willing to throw probability out the window.
Getty "Math can blow me, I know that gardener is out to steal my babies. But maybe take a deep breath and think twice before the next time you tell someone: This is why we can excuse ourselves for using shady or flat-out dishonest tactics to win an argument.
We're sure the other guy is doing much, much worse. Getty "I will yield that the sky is blue, if you acknowledge that the moon landing was engineered by an unfrozen Walt Disney. And "whatever we can" is often code for lying. Think about all the people you've disagreed with this month. How many of them do you think were being intentionally dishonest?
Experts say you're almost definitely overshooting the truth. It's called the trust gapand scientist see it crop up every time one human is asked to estimate how trustworthy another one is.
In one study, subjects were asked to rate the likelihood that strangers would share pretend winnings with them. The subjects figured about half were trustworthy enough to share. When it came time to actually share, about 80 percent came through.
The subjects thought the world was almost twice as corrupt as it actually is. Getty "Most of the people in this calculus class would cut my throat for a value meal. You just walk away congratulating yourself on being able to sniff out an ambush from a mile away.
He loves surprise parties, poker and judging blow job contests. After all, if we assume the person we're arguing with is lying, the only thing they can prove to us is that they're a really good liar.
This is how racism, sexism and any other sort of discrimination work. Once someone's made-up their mind that color is the culprit, convincing them otherwise is going to be close to impossible, no matter how ridiculous the scenario.The title of this post pretty much says it all.
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Do you like curly fries? Have you Liked them on Facebook? Watch this talk to find out the surprising things Facebook (and others) can guess about you from your random Likes and Shares. Computer scientist Jennifer Golbeck explains how this came about, how some applications of the technology are not so cute -- and why she thinks we should return the control of information to its rightful owners.