Friday, December 31, 2010

Hits, Misses, and Delusions

Fairly light article via Dan Gardner @ Psychology Today. 
So why do the media celebrate hits and ignore misses? There are many reasons. One is that the news media want people to feel their stories are important and informative, and when the story is an expert's prediction about the future, the best way to do that is by playing up the expert's hits and omitting her misses. Laziness can also be a factor since the expert will happily tell the reporter about his past hits but the reporter will have to do his own digging to find the misses. Then there's simple forgetfulness. Hits tend to be spectacular. They stick in people's minds. But misses? They seldom involve an "aha!" moment. Instead, they slowly and quietly emerge from the passage of time, making it likely they will be slowly and quietly forgotten.
Few people remember that one of the best-selling books of the late 1980s was The Great Depression of 1990. But if there had actually been a Great Depression in 1990....
But there's also some basic psychology at work. "The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits but not when it misses," Sir Francis Bacon observed, and centuries later psychologist Bertram Forer demonstrated just how right he was.
Click Here to Read: Hits, Misses, and Delusions

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