It always intrigues me how humans tend to imagine matters of opinion to be empirically true – as if matters of fact – even when they are not. It’s a cognitive issue, one that I suspect is linked to the way some people validate themselves. And it leads to a logical disconnect, a favourite of… More When the conclusion doesn’t follow the premise it’s called – stupidity?
I need to tell you about a cognitive bias that keeps cropping up. It’s a very human thing. And – as a species – we keep tripping over it. What I’m on about is a form of attribution bias, as applied to groups: the supposition that the behaviour or attitudes of a few reflects the… More One bad apple doesn’t spoil the barrel, does it
Facts are curious things. There are empirical facts that can be independently shown to be true. And there are facts we ‘believe’ to be true, which most of us treat as if empirical. I have to share an experience I had involving the latter. Soon after my book on New Zealand’s engineering achievements hit the… More When ego intrudes into the facts of history
I discovered a web page last month alleging that my book Guns and Utu (Penguin 2011) was available for free PDF download from a company named Playster. According to the page I found, some 2048 copies had reportedly been downloaded in the last month. This was odd: I hold the copyrights and publishing license. Neither… More Somebody is illegally advertising non-existent pirate copies of my books
A doctor I consulted for a while in another town and time had the dynamite combination of incompetence, ego and an ability to intellectualise his ineptitude in a way that threw people on to the back foot. If he couldn’t diagnose something – which was just about everything – it was due to ‘psychological’ problems on the part of the patient,… More Why ‘psychology’ fails Popper’s falsifiability tests and isn’t a science
One of my pet peeves is judgementality – the way people draw a negative response to what they imagine to have happened, on what they superficially see – but without actually checking with the target of their judgement to discover the facts. It’s where the recent craze for ‘shaming’ comes from, among other things –… More Does judgementality annoy you?
Some of the ‘brain teaser’ puzzles doing the rounds at the moment annoy me. The problem is that if you don’t know the parameters on which the question is posed, you can’t get the ‘right’ answer. Take the one involving apples (10 points each), bananas and coconuts. Depending on how you read it, a banana… More Why I get annoyed with Facebook brain-teaser puzzles