Tag: bias

Why Our Brains Stick Their Heads in the Sand (Metaphorically) When We Hear Bad News

By Sophie Bushwick | September 26, 2012 3:09 pm

head in the sand

We humans aren’t the most logical creatures. Take information processing: if we were perfect reasoners, we would absorb all the new facts we learn and use them to modify our view of the world. But while we do something like this with good news, bad news tends to go in one ear and out the other. While this good news / bad news effect gives you a more positive outlook on life, it can make you blindly optimistic, unprepared for the real consequences of medical problems or natural disasters.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain

True or False: Illustrations Make Information More Believable

By Sophie Bushwick | August 13, 2012 9:31 am

bias

“John Key is alive.” Quick, is this statement true or false? Unless you’re well versed in international politics (or a resident of New Zealand), you probably have no idea who John Key is, so you’ll have to rely on your gut feeling. And it turns out, according to a recent paper, that your gut is a sucker for pretty pictures. People are more likely to believe a statement is true when it is accompanied by a picture—any old picture—or verbal description.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain
MORE ABOUT: bias, instinct, intuition, truth

Study: Stephen Jay Gould, Crusader Against Scientific Bias, Was Guilty of It

By Veronique Greenwood | June 15, 2011 12:59 pm

skull
Early anthropologist Samuel George Morton, accused by
Gould of bias in his measurements of skulls, may finally
be exonerated.

What’s the News: Harvard biologist and popular author Stephen Jay Gould was a well-known advocate for evolution and denouncer of scientific bias. But a new study shows that one of his most famous claims—that an early researcher unconsciously manipulated his measurements of skulls to make Caucasians seem smarter—is baseless.

The researcher actually made few errors, and it looks like Gould never bothered to measure the skulls himself, as the study’s authors did, before crying bias. “Ironically,” the authors write, “Gould’s own analysis…is likely the stronger example of a bias influencing results.”

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Human Origins
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