The Cold Machine Part I

There are so many experiments that prove that you have no clue as to what motivates you. Take the sock experiment. Four pairs of socks are laid out on a table and passers by are asked to pick the pair they like the best. They are labeled 1-4, with 1 being on the left side. Invariably, a majority picks the fourth pair, the one to the extreme right. 12% pick #1, 17% pick #2, 31% pick #3, and 40% pick #4. The socks are all exactly the same, but people have a natural bias to things that are on the right. Then the experiment is repeated, and this time after the person picks the pair they think are the best they are told that they are all the same, and they are surprised and skeptical. They are also told of the right side bias. Nobody believes it!

We all underestimate how much our beliefs and theories contribute to our observations and opinions, and are not all that open to how many other ways what we see could have been interpreted.

There is a ton of evidence that it is hard for us to reconcile our previous beliefs with new data that prove we are wrong. We have all experienced this. When I was a teenager I came down with an awful flu, I ran a fever that spiked up to 105 degrees. The last thing I ate before I got sick was a pear. For years I thought the pear had something to do with why I became so ill and couldn’t eat one. I also used to be a firm believer in not picking up heads down pennies to avoid bad luck. Do you believe the gambler’s fallacy? If you flip a coin and it comes up heads six times in a row, is a tail more likely on the seventh flip? No it is not, but try convincing the person that is hanging on at that losing slot machine because it has got to produce a win after so many loses. The hard cold data shows that each coin flip and each pull of the lever is an act not related to the one before.


 

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