According to Wikipedia, Cognitive Biases are psychological tendencies that cause the human brain to draw incorrect conclusions. So when I was the victim of petty larceny, I needed to be rational and keep my cognitive biases in check. A perpetrator brazenly jumped over my house gate and took some items that were left outside. Thankfully no one was hurt, and nothing too valuable was stolen. He never came in the house or even tried. Of course, everything was captured on camera and the police have begun an investigation. Either way, this event was unnerving, and it reminded me of the time my home in Chicago was robbed.
Cognitive Bias #1 Leveling or Sharpening: Memory distortions introduced by the loss of details in a recollection over time, often concurrent with sharpening or selective recollection of certain details that take on exaggerated significance about the details or aspects of the experience lost through leveling.
I remember coming home from a vacation; the house was ransacked, and all valuable items were gone. It left a strong impression on me to protect valuables or simply to not have any. It was a painful violation of personal property and a clear invasion of my personal space.
Cognitive Bias #2 Exaggerated Expectation: The tendency to expect or predict more extreme outcomes than those outcomes that actually happen.
What if someone was coming out of the house and he (the perpetrator) was there? What if that someone was my child? Was he working alone? How long had he been casing my house? Will he/they come back?
This thinking can grip you in fear and stress, but the reality is there is only so much you can control, and the likelihood of a severely bad outcome is remote. Of course, we have taken extra precaution, added security, and strengthened our guard. This week's Loupe is dedicated to (in)security and fighting the cognitive biases that make everything worse!
My brain: Availability Heuristic: There is crime happening everywhere, all the time!
The truth: Thankfully, there is very little crime where I live.
As you may suspect, I am an information junkie. I read anything and everything. I generally have an app for providing me with this information. Yet, there was a large gaping hole in my data acquisition. Thank goodness for fellow Louper Amy F. who shared the Citizen app with me. This app provides real-time alerts for crime and other emergency incidents in your area (only New York and San Francisco for now). It is like a technology-enabled police radio scanner! The idea is that it alerts you if something is nearby and then you can determine which way to run, towards it or away from it. All the items have been reported to 911 and Users are encouraged to add additional information (photos, videos, and comments), to inform interested parties. Let it be known that my 911 call regarding the petty larceny made it to the app. The Upper East Side is starting to be a high crime neighborhood ... the more I obsess over this app!
My Brain: Loss Aversion: It's obvious that someone in the gym wants to take my iPhone, wallet, and my dirty socks & underwear.
The Truth: No one wants your stuff, they want to work out and go back to work or home.
Who remembers the days of opening your locker at school? Three turns to the right, followed by blah, blah, blah. Sometimes the lock opened, sometimes it didn't. Thankfully the folks at Tapplock have created a lock that mirrors the functionality of an iPhone, and children everywhere do not need to experience this trauma. You can enter your fingerprints (as well as those of other trusted individuals) in this handy and effective lock. It is amazing to me that it took this long to make a fingerprint opening lock. Who can find the keys or remember the code to their lock anyway? I imagine 99% of lock owners set their combo to 1-2-3-4 or 0-0-0-0! Now you can have extra security for your bag, gym locker, or whatever else you might lock away. The battery comes into play, but supposedly it lasts one year on a single charge (mine seems to be).
Type A Deodorant
Cognitive Bias: Pessimism Bias: I stink, and everyone knows it. They can smell my fear ...
Truth: If you wear deodorant you probably don't/won't smell, and if you do no one is close enough (in your arm pit) to smell it anyway!
This one was introduced to me by fellow Louper Stephen W. I have been searching for a deodorant that is a deodorant (does the trick), reduces sweat (does that trick too), doesn't irritate my skin (I'm a sensitive guy), and won't do lasting health damage. Type-A is a new product that was built around what I am looking for in a deodorant. Their first innovation is eliminating Aluminum, which is the typical reactant for deodorants. By not using Aluminum, they are avoiding unnatural ingredients that aren't particularly good for you and may irritate your skin. This product is more like a cream, and it will take some getting used to. They have three different smells (or shall I say flavors): floral, mint, and citrus; try them all and see which you like best!
The Coddling of the American Mind
Cognitive Bias: 1) What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker 2) Always trust your feelings 3) Life is a battle between good people and evil people.
Truth: 1) What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, 2) Don't trust your feelings 3) Life is more complicated and nuanced than a battle between good people and evil people.
I am fortunate to participate in a Book Club founded by fellow Louper Larry B. This isn't just any book club, but rather one where the author attends. Having the author eliminates other attendees from espousing a wrong interpretation and counteracts the group dynamics of a typical book club. Our recent book was Jonathan Haidt's, The Coddling of the American Mind. It is a book that attempts to explain how we screwed up the Post Millenial Generation (I-Gen) ... yes, my kids! It started as a journey to explain why universities have become places where ideas hide or are shouted down, rather than debated and researched. What he found were some disturbing trends that are now woven into society with potentially disastrous effects. It is a scintillating read and will highlight what we may be doing wrong if the goal is to preserve a civil society!