Monthly Archives: January 2012

A wonderful exposition of the confirmation bias. “You want to be right about how you see the world, so you seek out information which confirms your beliefs and avoid contradictory evidence and opinions.”

Indeed! Seek and ye shall find evidence for your preconceived notions, unless you understand and actively fight the confirmation bias in your own mind. The first step toward fighting back is realizing that it’s not your fault. The confirmation bias is wiring built into your unconscious mind, but your conscious mind, now made aware of this normally subconscious flaw, needs to fight back!

You Are Not So Smart

The Misconception: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.

The Truth: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions.

Have you ever had a conversation in which some old movie was mentioned, something like “The Golden Child” or maybe even something more obscure?

You laughed about it, quoted lines from it, wondered what happened to the actors you never saw again, and then you forgot about it. Until…

You are flipping channels one night and all of the sudden you see “The Golden Child” is playing. Weird. The next day you are reading a news story, and out of nowhere it mentions forgotten movies from the 1980s, and holy shit, three paragraphs about “The Golden Child.” You see a trailer that night at the theater for a new Eddie Murphy movie, and…

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Groupthink or Solitude?

Author Susan CainIntroversion expert Susan Cain has written a great Op-Ed piece in the New York Times Sunday Review exploring introversion, groupthink, and the benefits of solitude. As a self-professed introvert, I found the piece compelling reading and I highly recommend it.

Here is an interesting excerpt:

People in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others’ opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure. The Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns found that when we take a stance different from the group’s, we activate the amygdala, a small organ in the brain associated with the fear of rejection. Professor Berns calls this “the pain of independence.”

The one important exception to this dismal record is electronic brainstorming, where large groups outperform individuals; and the larger the group the better. The protection of the screen mitigates many problems of group work. This is why the Internet has yielded such wondrous collective creations. Marcel Proust called reading a “miracle of communication in the midst of solitude,” and that’s what the Internet is, too. It’s a place where we can be alone together — and this is precisely what gives it power.

Read the rest of this entry

Comedian Todd Glass Comes Out of the Closet

Comedian Todd Glass

photo credit: fivepics

47-year-old comedian Todd Glass came out of the closet last Monday on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. If you have not listened to the podcast, you must check it out. Marc mainly interviews comedians and often delves into serious topics like bi-polar disorder, OCD, and suicide. This episode was the first time that someone came out of the closet on his show and you could hear the pride in Marc’s voice as he helped Todd share his true identity with the world.

Thank you Todd for having the guts to share this.  Here is one of the best quotes from the interview:

Time will tell you’re wrong. If you are homophobic and you’re out there you better be positive you’re right, because isn’t it gonna blow if all these kids are killing themselves and later how convenient in twenty years you get to write a book to say how wrong you were.  They’re dead, so why don’t you have a soul-searching moment now?

As a child I remember the unwarranted bigotry that adults espoused against gays in the conservative religious churches that I attended. Read the rest of this entry

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