Relying on the octopus

There is an interesting story in Stuart Sutherland’s book Irrationality. In his chapter on the paranormal, he describes an experiment where subjects were asked to complete a bogus personality test. They were then all given a descriptions of their personalities – but the experimenter gave each person the same description. And 90% of the subjects thought that it was a very good or excellent description of themselves.

People are just very good at interpreting evidence to fit in with their prior beliefs. This coupled with the fact that people aren’t very good at assessing probabilities means that unfortunately we are somewhat gullible, and too ready to associate events with the paranormal.

Mind you, that psychic octopus is pretty special… Not to mention the parakeet.

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2 Responses to Relying on the octopus

  1. Hey there, just a brief note to say that i’m a new comer to your weblog however I am undeniably a new fan. Oh and also to cheer on ITALY for WORLD CUP 2010!! Viva Italia!!

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