Resuming our regular programming

I know you’re frightened to see such a publicly display of man-love as the fat controller put on show in that last post.  I know it was every bit as gut-retching as he imagined it was heart-wrenching. I know, and I’m sorry.  This hasty post is designed to move it down the page, post-haste, for the good of the internets, hallowed be their name.


I have an passion for issues of cognition and cognitive bias, as regular readers will be aware.  (Although, not a passion so strong I’d call for any sort of YouTube montage to be made, so hold your ….  aah, too late.)

I recently stumbled across this article in the Boston Globe.  (I read my way across America, one newspaper per state, every 50 days.  Today was Massachusets. When you don’t hear from me, it’s usually because I’m stuck in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas…)

The Boston Globe article told me something I wasn’t surprised to hear (in fact, I’d heard it before, but I seek out articles that confirm what I already know).

People stick to their misconceptions…

…even if you show someone a fact that contradicts the fact they know…

They will still believe what they already believed.  No wonder all those engineering nerds shake their heads at the arts faculty. Sometimes I wonder how this species gets any succesful thinking done at all.

But wait, there’s more!  People presented with a fact that contradicts their belief, will in some cases go on to believe their disproved belief even more.  can i get an omfg?


And that, human beings, is a fact.  I encourage you to think about what that means.  It doesn’t just apply to rabid conservatives or wacky hippies.  It applies to you.  Something essential that you know for sure is likely to be wrong.  It could be the foundation of your belief system.  That belief may be wrong, and, what’s worse, wrong in the face of mounting evidence.

And just as it is never quite the right time to admit your public love for Lance Armstrong, it is never too late to admit you were wrong.

Here’s my contribution.  I thought it was a good idea to go to war in Iraq.  I thought we were winning in Afghanistan and that those lessons could be applied.  WRONG.

Here’s what I learned:  recency bias is a bitch.

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Thomas the Think Engine is the blog of a trained economist. It comes to you from Melbourne Australia.

3 thoughts on “Resuming our regular programming”

  1. I thought I was taking the piss out of people with an unnatural Lance love, not joining them.
    Was it not obvious that the tongue was in the cheek?


    1. Come on, Mr Fat Controller, we know you secretely want long spinning sessions together on the beach while the sun sets golden in the background…


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