Posts Tagged 'Confirmation Bias'

Rachel Maddow + Basketball + Bill Nye = Win

Yesterday’s Rachel Maddow Show provided me with yet another reason to love that woman. She uses footage of amazing 3-point shots in basketball to show how something out of the ordinary doesn’t disprove the ordinary. Washington has had some snowy weather recently, and the global warming deniers are loving it because they see that as proof that global warming isn’t real. They can’t tell the difference between weather and climate.

You can watch the video here, it’s fantastic and features an interview with Bill Nye the Science Guy. But her point can be summed up in this quote, which begins around 4 minutes:

If one person wins the lottery…it does not disprove the existence of the recession. When it rains in the desert, that does not disprove the existence of the desert…If you have smoked a cigarette in your life and you are not currently suffering from lung cancer or heart disease, your existence…does not disprove the fact that smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease. The evidence we have of flight (birds, bees, airplanes, what have you) does not disprove the existence of gravity. The existence of monkeys does not disprove evolution. The existence of tadpoles does not disprove the existence of frogs.

Full court shots are hard, evolution is real, gravity is real, the recession real, deserts dry, smoking bad, frogs exist, also so do storms.

The fact that it is snowing somewhere…does not tell you any useful thing about the overall climate.

This is why we get our information about climate change from scientists, not pundits.


Religious Email Forwards

Like most people, I hate getting email forwards. But some annoy me more than others, and some just insult my intelligence. I got one of these the other day and I have to wonder if the people that send them are actually reading what they’re forwarding on to their friends.

The subject line in this email was “I love the message,” but I didn’t see anything about the message that was worthy of my love:

Concentrate on this Sentence

‘To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.’ When God takes something from your grasp, He’s not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better. Concentrate on this sentence… ‘The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.’ Something good will happen to you today; something that you have been waiting to hear.

This is not a joke; someone will call you by phone or will speak to you about something that you were waiting to hear. Do not break!

Send it to a minimum of 2 people… JUST DO IT!

What a load of crap.

The will of god will never take me where the grace of god won’t protect me? Bullshit. You mean I’ll never be in too much trouble because god will always get me out of it? Pfft, talk about wishful thinking. Is┬áthe person that wrote this email living under a rock?

The thing that really gets to me about this email, though, is that it makes such vague claims about what will happen when you forward it on that if anything good happens that day people will take that as evidence of their god. That’s called confirmation bias, “a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions and to irrationally avoid information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs.”

The person who sent me this email is one of the sweetest people I know, so I know her intentions were good. I just wish people would actually read and think about things like this before passing them on.

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