The conceptual framework for a man's search for meaning

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Why does the car go crazy?! Because a MacBook told it to.

April 25th, 2011 by dimpledbrain

They call it superstition in the past BUT the people then believed them wholeheartedly.

Why? BF Skinner did a test with some pigeons and proposed the following theory:

  1. Over time an action followed by a reinforcement action will become a belief.
  2. If no reinforcement is forthcoming, it actually creates a sense of persistence in the believer.

It goes like this:

  1. Belief – Bad luck (reinforcement action) will happen to he/she whose path is crossed by a black cat (action).
  2. Over time, this belief is accepted as the truth.
  3. Subsequent events take place. Say 10 poor people’s paths have been crossed by black cats. Nothing happened to the first 9 but the last met with an accident.
  4. The believer of this ‘truth’ will persist in his belief throughout the first 9 people (even though nothing actually happened), and when he/she gets to know the 10th person’s misfortune will claim, “Aha, told you so. It’s the black cat!”

Quoted by Fortune as one of the 75 Smartest Books of All Time, Fooled by Randomness, the author of the book, Nassim Taleb explains the phenomenon:

  • we tend to overestimate causality. Correlation does not equal causation. Just because it rains every time I wash my car doesn’t mean that when I wash my car it will rain! Correlation between raining and washing car has been confused to mean a causation relationship (washing car causes raining).
  • we tend to view the world as more explainable than it it. Survivorship bias. 100 people in the room are playing a sudden death styled game. Losers will be eliminated till the final winner emerges, i.e. 50 people will play against the other 50. The remaining 50 will be split into 2 groups where 25 will fight against the other 25. The final winner is then crowned as the guru of the sudden death styled game. We must learn from the guru. It’s proven!

It then follows that there are 2 possible explanations for the title of this post:

  • Explanation A: I’m sorry if the title sounds complicated but the point is about being random. Read it again, makes sense doesn’t it?
  • Explanation B: I actually got the sentence from a random sentence generator, haha!

My friends, are we fooled by randomness? Stay tuned for Part 2 (I’m Crazy).

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