Tag: Psychology Cognition

Why we do the things we do.

February 5, 2008 | By | 10 Replies More
Why we do the things we do.

Does anyone really know the answer? Ever? That’s the point of this excerpt from a short essay by novelist Harlan Ellison: . . . [My] fourth marriage just sort of happened: It seemed like a good idea at the time. In fact—and this is the core of all my wisdom about love—whenever we try to explain […]

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We fail to notice important changes because we cannot attend to the entire world

February 4, 2008 | By | 4 Replies More
We fail to notice important changes because we cannot attend to the entire world

We don’t attend to everything we see. As Andy Clark has written in Natural Born Cyborgs, our brains don’t bother to create rich inner models of the world. We can’t create such models because there is simply too much information out there for us to process it all. Further, the world is generally available to revisit periodically, so why bother? In other words, we use the world as its own best model–we “cheat” (because we must cheat). But this cheating can be exposed through dramatic experiments. I’ve previously posted on some of those experiments here (by Quirkology).

Here are some additional experiments demonstrating our need to “cheat.” In this experiment, done by Dan Simons and Dan Levin, only 50% of the subjects noticed that the person to whom they were talking had changed. Here are additional demonstrations by Simons, along with a bit of explanation. Here’s a more elaborate write-up on the “door” experiment. And see here. When I use the word “cheat,” I’m being facetious. Our strategy of using the world as an adequate model is one of the many cognitive heuristics we must use in order to survive.

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Where are the wild Tigers? The danger of our obliviousness to incrementalism.

January 31, 2008 | By | 16 Replies More
Where are the wild Tigers?  The danger of our obliviousness to incrementalism.

In the February 2008 edition of Natural History Magazine (article not available online), you can learn where tigers still live in the wild.  At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 100,000 tigers living in the wild.  Today, there are only 5000 in the wild.  Tigers now inhabit only 7% of their original territory, […]

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I wish all of those silly people would quit believing things that they can’t prove.

January 21, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More
I wish all of those silly people would quit believing things that they can’t prove.

If you’ve ever had this thought that intelligent people never believe things they can’t prove, consider that some of the world’s sharpest and most skeptical minds have confessed in writing that they too believe things that they can’t prove.  You can read all about it in the 2005 Annual Question at Edge.org.  The question:  “What […]

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Can you spot a fake smile?

January 20, 2008 | By | 3 Replies More
Can you spot a fake smile?

Here’s a well-conceived website. Straight-forward and fun. You will be given 20 short video clips of people smiling. Are they genuine smiles or fake smiles? After you make your picks (this will take about 5 minutes), this BBC site will reveal the correct answers and give you some genuine pointers for determining whether smiles are genuine or fake. […]

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How to tell if you are a “fundy”

January 7, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More
How to tell if you are a “fundy”

I caught this list of telltale signs over at De-conversion:  Resources for Skeptical, De-converting or Former Christians.  Here are a few items from the list: You see nothing wrong with stating “facts” about what God thinks as if you are His personal secretary. You complain about Christians not being allowed to practice their religion in […]

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The Great Power of Defaults

December 30, 2007 | By | 13 Replies More
The Great Power of Defaults

In an article entitled “When Words Decide,” Barry Schwartz (writing in the August/September 2007 edition of Scientific American Mind [not available online]) gives some good examples demonstrating the great power of default choices.  These examples add more fuel for a long burning fire-that people are not the rational careful-thinking beings (homo economicus) economists have traditionally […]

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Giving religion its evolutionary due

December 29, 2007 | By | 12 Replies More
Giving religion its evolutionary due

If you’re tired of hearing heated yet worn-out arguments regarding religion and science, check out this intellectually nimble and energized exchange published by Edge.org: Responses by David Sloan Wilson, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, P. Z. Myers and Mark D.  Hauser to Jonathon Haidt’s “Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion.”  Here’s a link to Haidt’s […]

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Why does Bush keep smirking and laughing at such inappropriate moments?

December 27, 2007 | By | 2 Replies More
Why does Bush keep smirking and laughing at such inappropriate moments?

Bob Cesca raises the issue of Bush’s inappropriate smirking and provides the images to substantiate the problem. I went to Catholic grade school and high school and I’ve seen nuns beat the holy crap out of you for smirking at something innocuous. So here’s the alleged leader of the free world repeatedly smirking at matters […]

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