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Scientific Inquiry SCI 105.020. The Psychology of Stupidity - I Something Out of Nothing. Data, Information, and Knowledge. Data Also known as random data, raw data Factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation Information

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scientific inquiry sci 105 020

Scientific Inquiry SCI 105.020

The Psychology of Stupidity - I

Something Out of Nothing

data information and knowledge
Data, Information, and Knowledge
  • Data
    • Also known as random data, raw data
    • Factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation
  • Information
    • The communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence
    • Presented as a message to another individual
  • Knowledge
    • The fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association
    • Presented as concepts, predicates, rules, etc
  • Let’s look at some data about a weather data set concerning whether a game is played under different weather conditions
    • The individual data entries, such as Outcast/Sunny, Humidity/High don’t mean anything by themselves
    • We can generate informative reports using these data:
      • Out of the 14 records, there are 6 with high humidity, 8 with normal humidity.
    • We can also discover some patterns
      • We are 85.7% confident that it will play when humidity is normal; 75% confident that it will play when humidity is normal and it’s cold
  • Human cognitive mechanisms do have flaws
    • The Gateway Arch illusion (Gilovich, p17)
    • A similar optical illusion caused by two arches
      • Which one is bigger?
    • The Muller Lyer illusion
    • More illusions can be found at
  • What’s more dangerous?
    • The illusions are so strong thatit is not eliminated simply byknowing the correct answer
illusions on random events
Illusions on Random Events
  • Finding patterns out of our observations is the right way to discover new knowledge
  • But, be careful, overuse such strategies can also cause problem
  • Erroneous beliefs are hard to eliminate once they are formed
  • In this chapter, Gilovich emphasized on people’s erroneous intuitions about how random events should look
nature abhors a vacuum
Nature Abhors a Vacuum
  • People are disposed to see order, pattern, and meaning in the world
    • Human nature abhors a lack of predictability and the absence of meaning
    • As a consequence, we tends to see order where there is none
  • We simply tend to see something out of nothing for no good reasons
    • Psychologists believe this is due to flaws in the cognitive machinery we use to comprehend the world
misconception of random data
Misconception of Random Data
  • The dislike of randomness and seeking for order and patterns may leads to
    • Cluster illusion
      • The belief in a “hot hand” in basketball
    • The regression fallacy
  • The representative heuristic is a major contributor to these errors
cluster illusions
Cluster Illusions
  • Erroneous human intuition about random events
    • A random event shouldn’t have any clusters at all
    • Rather, it should be perfectly evenly distributed
  • Coin-flipping exercise
    • First, make up a 20-flip sequence
    • Then, flip a coin 20 times
    • Compare
    • C2 test:
      • Can you reject the claim that the head-tail mix is evenly distributed?
representative heuristic
Representative Heuristic
  • Read this paragraph and answer the question
    • Steve is very shy and withdrawn, invariably helpful, but with little interest in people or the world of reality. He has a need for order and a passion for detail.
    • Is Steve more likely to be salesperson or a librarian?
the regression fallacy
The Regression Fallacy
  • The Sports Illustrated jinx
  • Which is more effective: praise or punishment?