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#1 Jun 16 2012 at 6:14 AM Rating: Excellent
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Why Smart People Are Stupid

Interesting little article in the New Yorker. I prefer to think of it as smart people are lazy, but this is also true. Of course, I think that this will also allow for not-so-smart people to just go ahead and assume they're smart but prone to making the mistakes highlighted in the "study", haha. Anyway, I got the first question wrong, but also assumed it was wrong, but didn't want to think about it anymore and just skipped to the punchline...how about you?

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#2 Jun 16 2012 at 8:05 AM Rating: Excellent
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I got the first question right, but, full disclosure, I think I'd heard it before.

Edited to add:

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Perhaps our most dangerous bias is that we naturally assume that everyone else is more susceptible to thinking errors, a tendency known as the “bias blind spot.” This “meta-bias” is rooted in our ability to spot systematic mistakes in the decisions of others—we excel at noticing the flaws of friends—and inability to spot those same mistakes in ourselves. Although the bias blind spot itself isn’t a new concept, West’s latest paper demonstrates that it applies to every single bias under consideration, from anchoring to so-called “framing effects.” In each instance, we readily forgive our own minds but look harshly upon the minds of other people.



This defines pretty much every forum, every meeting and every committee I've ever known.


Edited, Jun 16th 2012 7:10am by Samira
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#3 Jun 16 2012 at 11:57 AM Rating: Excellent
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Samira wrote:
I got the first question right, but, full disclosure, I think I'd heard it before.

Edited to add:

Quote:
Perhaps our most dangerous bias is that we naturally assume that everyone else is more susceptible to thinking errors, a tendency known as the “bias blind spot.” This “meta-bias” is rooted in our ability to spot systematic mistakes in the decisions of others—we excel at noticing the flaws of friends—and inability to spot those same mistakes in ourselves. Although the bias blind spot itself isn’t a new concept, West’s latest paper demonstrates that it applies to every single bias under consideration, from anchoring to so-called “framing effects.” In each instance, we readily forgive our own minds but look harshly upon the minds of other people.



This defines pretty much every forum, every meeting and every committee I've ever known.


Edited, Jun 16th 2012 7:10am by Samira


Yeah...*other* people...what's up with them?

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#4 Jun 16 2012 at 1:05 PM Rating: Excellent
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Stupid other people. Smiley: mad

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#5 Jun 16 2012 at 1:06 PM Rating: Excellent
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I see the logic behind question 1, but I don't necessarily agree with their conclusion on it because it is very common for people to associate "more" and "in addition to". Maybe it's a regional thing. To me, a total bill that costs $1.10, contaiing a ball that costs $0.10 and a bat that is $1.00 "in addition to" the $0.10 you already spent also works logically. Or "I spent $0.10 and then spent a dollar more in addition" I think the correct response to the question would be to ask the person with the question to clarify it to remove ambiguity and then give your answer.

I get where they are going, and I agree with the rest of their premise. i just think that particular question is flawed in that both answers are technically correct, though one is going to be a much rarer answer than the other.
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#6 Jun 16 2012 at 1:17 PM Rating: Excellent
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One dollar is not one dollar more than a dime. That's the point. There's no technical different answer.

Edited, Jun 16th 2012 3:19pm by lolgaxe
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#7 Jun 16 2012 at 1:28 PM Rating: Excellent
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You spent one dollar more than the dime though. Which arguably meets the conditions of the question.
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#8 Jun 16 2012 at 2:39 PM Rating: Good
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Your explanation would work Kao, if the question was phrased that "The bat and ball are 1 dollar more than just the ball". But it was phrased that the bat alone is one dollar more than the ball alone.

Now, we are completely ignoring any bundle deals that purchasing the bat and ball together may yield. It could very well be that if I went out and purchased a bat and ball separately, they'd cost 1.10 and 0.10 by themselves, but buying the special package deal, I save 10 cents!
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#9 Jun 16 2012 at 8:28 PM Rating: Good
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I get where they are going, and I agree with the rest of their premise. i just think that particular question is flawed in that both answers are technically correct


The ball being 10 cents isn't technically correct, the question isn't ambiguous at all. This question was developed through decades of research in behavioral economics, it's used in a myriad of inventories controlled for understandability.
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#10 Jun 16 2012 at 8:35 PM Rating: Excellent
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The question is "how much did each thing cost?", not "how much more did you spend on the bat?" - that's given in the setup. It's clear.
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#11 Jun 16 2012 at 10:44 PM Rating: Excellent
the math ones probably won't often get me, but I'm used to writing up a mental equation for word questions anyway. I expect word based math questions to mislead me, so my first instinct is to go x+x+1 = 1.1. It also helped that I went in expecting to be tricked more then usual from the first post of the thread. The lilypad one was an obvious half life question, so part of it is familiarity with the subject matter.

The whole thing about being really harsh with other peoples flaws and not your own is totally true. I know for me, learning to work with people who work very differently from me has been a learning experience with this exactly.

Edited, Jun 16th 2012 11:45pm by Xsarus
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#12 Jun 17 2012 at 1:28 PM Rating: Good
Yeah... I shared this on facebook a little while ago and am now having difficulties explaining to a couple of friends how the first question works. >.< This is amusing as hell. They're both pretty smart too.
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#13 Jun 18 2012 at 7:25 AM Rating: Excellent
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Follow up by asking them about an airplane on a treadmill.
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#14 Jun 18 2012 at 7:29 AM Rating: Good
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That'd be an awful big treadmill.
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#15 Jun 18 2012 at 9:20 AM Rating: Excellent
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It was.

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#16 Jun 18 2012 at 12:03 PM Rating: Decent
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Sir Xsarus wrote:
The whole thing about being really harsh with other peoples flaws and not your own is totally true. I know for me, learning to work with people who work very differently from me has been a learning experience with this exactly.


Same here. When it comes to computer related stuff, I was a whiz kid out of the gate, but as my work experience expanded my horizons, especially into more management type stuff, I realized that some subjects just come easier to others and not everybody processes things the same way. Concepts that are incredibly simple for me might as well be astrophysics to others, and vice versa. Humility was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn as an adult.
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#17 Jun 18 2012 at 2:27 PM Rating: Decent
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Smasharoo wrote:

I get where they are going, and I agree with the rest of their premise. i just think that particular question is flawed in that both answers are technically correct


The ball being 10 cents isn't technically correct, the question isn't ambiguous at all. This question was developed through decades of research in behavioral economics, it's used in a myriad of inventories controlled for understandability.


Yup. But I think the point here is that it's a question designed to trick the person into thinking that they're being asked what Kao was talking about, but while actually asking something slightly different. I don't think most people answer that question thinking "a dollar is a dollar more than 10 cents". They answer the question thinking "A 10 cent ball plus a dollar more equals the total price for a ball and bat". The issue isn't really with a math error, but with an interpretation error. But the question is specifically designed to increase the odds of someone reading that question for the first time making exactly that error.


The value of such experiments isn't to make grand claims like "smart people are actually stupid", but "lean how to avoid questions which can be interpreted differently than you intend". The entire field of technical writing is basically devoted to learning what phraseology methods will result in such confusion and then avoid them. I guess from a psychological perspective, it's useful to know what sorts of questions act as tricks to human minds, but I wouldn't put much more weight on it than that.

Edited, Jun 18th 2012 1:28pm by gbaji
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#18 Jun 18 2012 at 2:29 PM Rating: Good
Or, really it just illustrates how confusing word problems are, and how they should DIAF.
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#19 Jun 18 2012 at 2:35 PM Rating: Good
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I initially read it as "A bat and a ball cost a dollar and ten cents, [respectively]." There was a brief moment of confusion as the following sentences contradicted that premise, before I figured out what they were getting at.

I chalk it up to the phrasing, which I don't run into very often. If it had been written numerically ("A bat and a ball cost $1.10") or with a modifier like "combined" I would have picked it up without a problem.

Edited, Jun 18th 2012 4:36pm by Eske
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#20 Jun 19 2012 at 8:13 AM Rating: Good
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Smiley: lol

I couldn't help but notice the turn this thread took -' smart' people making excuses for why they might have gotten the question wrong. Dummies.....
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#21 Jun 19 2012 at 11:13 AM Rating: Decent
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Elinda wrote:
Smiley: lol

I couldn't help but notice the turn this thread took -' smart' people making excuses for why they might have gotten the question wrong. Dummies.....


Which is exactly what the article says they'll do :). I got a good chuckle out of that myself.
#22 Jun 19 2012 at 12:21 PM Rating: Good
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Elinda wrote:
Smiley: lol

I couldn't help but notice the turn this thread took -' smart' people making excuses for why they might have gotten the question wrong. Dummies.....


I didn't get it wrong! It just took me a little while to get it right! Smiley: motz


Really, it's hard to get a trick question wrong when you already know it's supposed to be a trick...

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#23 Jun 19 2012 at 3:34 PM Rating: Excellent
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I got it wrong. But I'm not smart. So what does that make me?
#24 Jun 19 2012 at 4:32 PM Rating: Excellent
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I got it right, Nads. Guess you're smarter than you think, while I, sadly, go the other way.
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#25 Jun 19 2012 at 4:55 PM Rating: Good
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I got all of the questions posed correct, but went into it expecting to get tricked.

Had I not known they were going to be trick questions, I probably would have gotten the one about the lily pads covering the lake wrong.
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#26 Jun 19 2012 at 5:37 PM Rating: Decent
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Bigdaddyjug wrote:
I got all of the questions posed correct, but went into it expecting to get tricked.

Had I not known they were going to be trick questions, I probably would have gotten the one about the lily pads covering the lake wrong.


Opposite for me. I would have gotten the ball and bat one wrong if I hadn't already known it was a tricksie question. Just one of those where the "first glance" answer looks right until you actually stop and do math. The lily pad one I got immediately and didn't even think of as a trick. But I suspect that years of dealing with binary progressions helps a lot with that.
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#27 Jun 19 2012 at 8:45 PM Rating: Good
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gbaji wrote:
Bigdaddyjug wrote:
I got all of the questions posed correct, but went into it expecting to get tricked.

Had I not known they were going to be trick questions, I probably would have gotten the one about the lily pads covering the lake wrong.


Opposite for me. I would have gotten the ball and bat one wrong if I hadn't already known it was a tricksie question. Just one of those where the "first glance" answer looks right until you actually stop and do math. The lily pad one I got immediately and didn't even think of as a trick. But I suspect that years of dealing with binary progressions helps a lot with that.


Like somebody said earlier, when reading a word problem, I immediately picture an equation, so that one was easy. I haven't done a lot of work with half-lives, so the lily pad one would have been somewhat obscure for me.
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#28 Jun 20 2012 at 7:30 AM Rating: Good
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gbaji wrote:
The lily pad one I got immediately and didn't even think of as a trick. But I suspect that years of dealing with binary progressions helps a lot with that.
Or just reading the question.
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#29 Jun 20 2012 at 7:45 AM Rating: Good
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My brain got the first one right pretty quickly, with just a moment's thought. The second question, I read it, I knew the correct answer, "Oh, the day before the 48th day...", but the words "Half" and "48" were still on the screen, and my brain said "24", even though I knew that was wrong. It was weird. I suppose I can't complain though because I wouldn't be as good at Jeopardy if my brain didn't quickly fire and create logical answers from key words.
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