1. Anchoring - the tendency to rely too heavily, or "anchor," on one trait or piece of information when making decisions, even if the information is completely unrelated to the decision. In an oft-cited and -replicated experiment, subjects are asked to submit a random number, like their Social Security Number, and then guesstimate another number, such as the population of Moose Jaw. Their answers are highly correlated to the number they had just contemplated, even though they shared no connection.
Example: I phone RJP to ask if he'd like anything from the greatest bookstore on Earth and he says no, he can't, because he went to a sale yesterday and bought 11 books. 11 books! That's quite a haul, even for him. So I venture forth with just my own internal list of desired books, which usually requires a few hours of browsing, reading, and agonizing before I settle on my stack, usually in the range of 2 to 5 carefully selected acquisitions. This day, however, I find myself checking out with 8 used and new beauties, each too precious to remain unpurchased. "8?" I say to myself with a shrug of the shoulders. "That's nothing. It's certainly not 11! Besides, 2 of them are gifts." But I'm getting ahead of myself...
2. Post-purchase rationalization - the tendency to persuade oneself through rational argument that a purchase had good value.
Example: There are so many. Of course we have those two "gift" books which I probably will bestow on their recipient very soon, after I've gotten a chance to read them. Then there's the lavish appreciation under which any meal out must suffer, to highlight its worth against the cheaper, homecooked equivalent. And of course any show I go to is totally worth the ticket price, because they're such a good band, or there are so many bands, or it's cheap movie night! The impact of this bias seems directly related to the purchase's cost; the more something is worth, the longer it is until I stop reminding myself of the great deal I got on it.
3. Omission Bias - The tendency to judge harmful actions as worse, or less moral than equally harmful omissions (inactions). There may be a reason for this that is unexplainable and undecodable by humans because it's part of a "moral grammar" innate in primates -- check this NY Times story for more details.
Example I went to see a new movie The Prestige with RJP and we had an argument (as we are wont) about the relative "badness" of the two main characters. Big spoilers here, so you may want to not read the following paragraph if you plan to see the movie. ( Read more...Collapse )
4. False Dilemma - or the 'All or Nothing' bias. People convince themselves that there are only 2 solutions to a problem, or 3, or some other discrete number, and ignore all possibilities other than these. Similarly, people feel that a problem either must be completely solved, or no solution should be attempted (all or nothing).
Example: I am not self-aware enough to identify all the problems for which I have ignored viable alternative solutions, but I do know that I am particularly prey to the "All or Nothing" fallacy, especially as concerns work or extended projects or really anything that will take more time than I have right now. If I can't finish something now, and do it perfectly, I would rather do nothing at all. Well, that's not actually true; I don't want to do nothing, but sometimes that's just what happens. For a few instances, we have the thesis for which I tell myself if I don't have time to tackle an entire issue with my experiments or an entire section that needs to be written/edited, then it's not worth sitting down with it at all. Then there are the drafts of emails left unfinished so long that one friend has just written: "I really considered that you might have died." And of course various household projects left on permanent hold. And then the blog. I figure if I don't have time to write everything I want to say (and time to do it well), then I shouldn't write anything. But the amount of stuff I want to say just keeps growing. So here we are; I'm just going to let that feeling go and do a short, incomplete list of the summer's highlights.... I'm just gonna do it and forget about it..... Here we go.... Has anyone ever seen Monk? It's about an obsessive-compulsive detective and I really relate to him. Most of my immediate family does too.
Anyway, The Highlights:
-a lot of great concerts
-9 straight hours of video games
-lots of drinking
-not as much gardening or hiking as usual, but there will be time for these later -- this summer I did things I won't be able to do when I'm older
-a website. If you ever need tutoring for students with learning disabilities, check these guys out.
-so much frisbee (3 nights a week, and frisbee golf)
-a steady (if stochastic) rise... in the stock market.
-an end to an era. Laburnum is finally dead. (Or is it? If it were a movie, there would be a pause, maybe even a credit, then a sneaky/shadowy cut back to the sole survivor, packing his nest deep in the basement, only his cat as companion. But alack, even that seems to be done.)
-a new life (2, really)
-so many books read (but far below my summer avg)
-a tidepool examined
-so many movies
And as I put off writing even this list, more stuff keeps happening:
-a new season of frisbee
-a car accident (I'm fine)
-my Mom's birthday
-more books read
-thesis nearing completion