“When faced with a set of complex information, you tend to turn the volume down on the things that are difficult to quantify and evaluate and instead focus on the few things (sometimes the one thing) that is most tangible and concrete. You then use the way you feel about what is more-salient to determine how you feel about the things that are less-salient, even if the other traits are unrelated.” boingboing
folks studying time perception have found, counterintuitively, that the idea that time speeds up as you get older appears to be a myth. if fact, as you get older you’re recording memories differently, “…first memories are dense. The routines of later life are sketchy. The past wasn’t really slower than the present. It just feels that way.”. when i first learned about the psychology of time perception, i discovered a simple way test how first memories affect perception of time. drive somewhere new and pay attention to how long it feels it’s taking ( we’re talking touchy feely perceptions here, not elapsed time ), then drive back at about the same speed and pay attention to how long it feels. the trip back will usually feel dramatically faster. eloquently on the perception of fast time and the aging mind, “It’s simple: if you want time to slow down, become a student again. Learn something that requires sustained effort; do something novel.” [ via daringfireball ]
the study of the the social psychology of human primates in elevators has a relatively long history, including contributions from a 1962 Candid Camera episode titled “Face the Rear” which showed how relatively easy it is to induce conformity to unusual “social norms” in the tight confines of an elevator which is just one way we act when the priority is “…to act in a way that cannot be construed as threatening, odd or in any way ambiguous…” which is pretty much what we’d expect in dressed up primates given how non-human primates react in enclosed spaces, “So, if you are a rhesus macaque and find yourself trapped in a small cage with another macaque, you know what to do: bare your teeth and start grooming. If you are a human and find yourself riding in an elevator with a stranger, I recommend you do the same: smile and make polite conversation.”. and now a more recent ethnographic study of elevator user experience finds we organize ourselves according to a clear social order with senior men towards the back, younger men in the middle, and woman in the front. no results were presented on the interactions with the “close door” button, but i assume it was a placebo. ( ethnography study via kottke ).
related to the cognitive basis for irrationality ( or maybe this is all just a big case of confirmaton bias? ), scientists say we just all aren’t collectively smart enough to elect the best candidates since we, “…simply lack the mental tools needed to make meaningful judgments.”. ( also, incompetent people too Ignorant to know it. )
perusing this exhaustive list of cognitive biases and it really is amazing that humans every have anything approaching a rational thought. for whatever reason, reading about research on confirmation bias has always been a favorite pastime. throw in cognitive dissonance, and motivated reasoning and you’ve got yourself a whole mess of irrationality.
“the central attribute of human conscious experience, so fundamental, in fact, that we take it for granted, don’t pause to think about it, is the sense of unity. You’ve got a diversity of sensory experiences. You see things, you listen to things. This harks back to what I was saying about synesthesia. You taste things. You have hundreds of memories throughout a lifetime. Yet you think of yourself as a unified person. Yet all of these happen to you… Despite this diversity of sensory experiences, this bewildering sensory cognitive blitz of memories and sensory impressions I experience unity. How does that come about?” – V. S. Ramachandran, author of the The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human ( quote via ). the balanced NYT review of The Tell-Tale Brain alludes to the controversy surrounding some his theories.
the science of why we don’t believe science is filled with glimpses into how are brains are wired to trick us into thinking we’re reasoning when we’re really rationalizing. “We may think we’re being scientists, but we’re actually being lawyers.” see also, reasons people persist in believing conspiracy theories even given overwhelming evidence to the contrary. so, i’m guessing this isn’t going to change many people’s minds: fox news can confirm that the president of the united states is a citizen of the united states. period.”
update: well that didn’t take long and the response is predictable. obama released the long form birth certificate which raised still more questions about obama’s past in many birther’s minds. and this is not the end of birtherism.