Applying Things to Other Things

On Thursday in composition class, we listened to an excerpt of Freakonomics about skepticism and critical analysis (The Truth is Out There . . . Isn't It?) and in it-- 17 minutes in, if you want to listen-- a professional skeptic summarized the concept of a Type 1 Cognitive Error-- this is a false positive, and in an evolutionary sense, it's not a bad mistake to make . . . you're a hominid on the plains and you hear a rustle in the grass and even though it might be a squirrel or the wind, you err on the side of caution and head back to your cave-- because that rustle might be a saber-toothed tiger and even though it probably wasn't, by making this error, you survived to see another dawn . . . we humans are designed to make lots of these errors, because they aren't very costly (as opposed to a Type 2 Cognitive Error, where you think the reverse and decide that that rustle in the grass is probably nothing-- because it's usually nothing-- and then you get eaten . . . think about this in modern terms with an electrical socket: better to assume it's live, than actually stick a fork in it to check) and later in the day on Thursday, when I was at the high school turf for soccer practice, and I ran into a mom that I thought was someone I knew (but wasn't quite sure because she was out of context) and realized that I had possibly just sent this person an email about when I was going to pick up her son-- if it was the mom I knew-- and while I wasn't sure it was her, I instinctively knew that it was much less costly to make a Type 1 Error and say hello and tell her that I had sent her an email-- and if she turned out to be someone else, all I would suffer would be a moment of awkwardness-- but if I ignored her and she was the kid's mom, then I would come off as very rude and weird, so I addressed her and she was the person I thought she was and the interaction went as well as it could have (though I couldn't remember her name) and so I'd just like to thank the evolutionary processes that shaped my pattern seeking brain and its ability to suffer through so many Type 1 Cognitive Errors (and I'd like to apologize to all you people that I started waving at, but then-- mid-wave-- realized I didn't actually know you and so started weirdly scratching my head . . . because it's better to wave at a stranger then ignore one of your friends or acquaintances).

10 comments:

rob said...

continuing the discussion from the previous post (and this is a really inefficient way to communicate - if only you were a normal human and texted and such - i hope you and the boys are planning to go to comicon in full cosplay glory.

zman said...

Dave finally gets to wear his latex Pikachu costume.

Dave said...

we did not, but alex and his friends swear that next year he will. and i got a smartphone! more on that once i figure out how to use it

zman said...

zmom and zson wandered away from us at the zoo (zzoo?) and I tried calling her to find them and eventually we did, they were in a bench and zson was crying because he thought we were lost forever. zmom doesn't turn her phone except to make a call. So she sat lost in zzoo for about an hour with a phone and didn't use it. Either Dave is really a 70 year old woman or we're related.

Dave said...

tell zmom that's exactly how i use my phone. it's not really good for emergencies or anything like that, but i have figured out how to put some music inside it.

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