Posts Tagged ‘psychology’
For those who haven’t seen a demonstration of cold reading before, here is an excellent one:
Thanks to “A Candle in the Dark”, a blog that turned up in my Google recommended feeds.
So what kind of thought processes contribute to belief in conspiracy theories? A study I carried out in 2002 explored a way of thinking sometimes called “major event – major cause” reasoning. Essentially, people often assume that an event with substantial, significant or wide-ranging consequences is likely to have been caused by something substantial, significant or wide-ranging.
I gave volunteers variations of a newspaper story describing an assassination attempt on a fictitious president. Those who were given the version where the president died were significantly more likely to attribute the event to a conspiracy than those who read the one where the president survived, even though all other aspects of the story were equivalent.
(Update: The “copy” is down, but you should be able to access the New Scientist. If not, here’s a sentence from the article you can Google for: “How can we account for the link between race, income level and conspiracy theories?”)
A bunch of related things that I have been (coincidentally) encountering:
Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book Fooled by Randomness, which I was reading, mentions in passing that the relative performance (how much more did I earn this month than last month) and relative wealth (how richer my neighbours are) matter more to people’s happiness than their absolute counterparts do. Also that the pleasure of “having” things wears away quickly.
Anne Truitt Zelenka says similar stuff in her blog post, and also says “spend your money on experiences. Focus on doing things rather than having things”.
Paul Graham recently wrote an essay saying we overvalue stuff, and that clutter is exhaustive, get rid of it.
And 43Folders ran a series of posts on getting rid of clutter.
Hmm… getting rid of clutter. Maybe I should start with this “blog”.
[And I really mean coincidentally/accidentally: The book I picked up because I was bored, the blog I found while looking at something about a Python module, Paul Graham is on my feed list, and the last one I found while looking at some other random blog.]