Monday, 2 July 2012

Psychology stuff from the week 25/6 - 1/7/12

'The lemon you reach for is not the lemon you taste'
When primed with colour distinctions, people judge lemons and canaries to be more similar.
This is one of a long line of studies expounding on the cognition functions behind synaesthesia - something i call 'magnitudinous thinking'.
Bascially, all variables are equated to a 'more or less' scale, and in synaesthesia, two or more of these scales overlap, causing a confusion between the two.
In this case, the perception of the lemon's colour blurs into the perception of its flavour, and its structural identity as a lemon.
It's a known trick, in food photography, to replace some foodstuffs with substitutes, and to spray others with WD40, to recreate their oily content.
This is because photographs of food have to evoke the experience of food, while limited to just the visual stimulus.
In order to convey the oily/stickiness of our favourite foods, they have to spray them with something, so that they don't literally look like the food we eat, but they do match up with the ideas of the food we eat, in our minds, that consist of multiple variables.

Profound lack of ANS (Approximate Number Sense) is called dyscalculia. All mathematical thought involves scalar/vectoral cognition - spatial thinking.
Me, with my Physics background, am used to understanding concepts with a spatial/graphical mental representation of the phenomena involved.
But there's good news for people who struggle to think like this - as the LGBTQI people say - "it gets better".
Experience crunching numbers in our heads provides us with the practice necessary to grow our brains to be better at it.
In the older members of the population, ability increased in variance, suggesting that while some retain their abilities, others 'go slack' and lose them, or maybe just lose it with dementia.

'Thinking about choice diminishes concern for wealth inequality'
When primed with ideas of choices, people are far more likely to fall for the notion that people's choices can determine their wealth.
"After controlling for certain characteristics like political orientation, socioeconomic status, and gender, Savani and Rattan found that participants in the choice condition were less disturbed about wealth inequalities in the U.S. than participants in the control condition."
This is a common error made by advocates of capitalism - that rich people are rich, and poor people are poor, because they choose to be and/or deserve to be - ergo the wealth disparity is perfectly fine.

When promised greater federal spending (in the US), voters praise the President in preference to their regional senators and members of congress.
This is probably due to greater publicity - people are more likely to associate federal action with the President, who's face is on everything, than with their regional representative.
The same is true in the UK. Voters ignore their local representatives, and concentrate on the politics/personality of the PM or Party heads. Doing this is made even easier when all the politics programs are national, and therefore ignore all the regional representatives.

'What was he thinking? Study turns to ape intellect'
What's the difference between humans and other species? It's not intellect - many species exhibit similar reasoning abilities, but the one thing that separates us is our ability for complex language.
Because we can encode ideas into strings of phonemes, we have a mechanism by which to build ideas, layering premises, and discovering ideas that are out of reach to all the other species.
We are not an 'intelligent' species - we are a talkative species.
We should remember this. Intelligent species do not do theism, quackery, war, etc, and then employ self-deception to 'rationalise' them away.
These are markers of a distinct lack of intelligence; we do them not despite greater reasoning skills, but because we never had them - only a tiny minority benefit from a truly scientific worldview, because we are only weakly predisposed to be like this.
The majority of homo sapiens profess Religious affiliations, 'support' sports teams, and 'know' their starsign. Why do we bother with this, if we're so intelligent? We're not.
We're good at communicating ideas to each other, but are no better than other species at telling good ideas from bad.
This is why we so desperately need the epistemic framework of the scientific method, to genuinely get anywhere, in our efforts to work for the social good.

'Panic was not the cause of the Love Parade disaster in Germany'
Mass panic is exceptionally rare, another study has found. When people are compressed into a tight space, the density of their bodies causes them, as a group, to behave like a dense fluid.
Pressure waves can ripple through this people-fluid, forming nodes around environmental structures, such as fences, where people are crushed.
When designed, this process is called 'kettling' - a technique that is often utilised by police forces, to push blame from themselves to the crowd.
It is purely because of the high people density that these events happen - this knowledge empowers us to prevent disasters like this from happening, and to condemn police forces for manufacturing their occurrence.
'Why cops should trust the wisdom of the crowds' (from 2009)
"Research into how people behave at demonstrations, sports events, music festivals and other mass gatherings shows not only that crowds nearly always act in a highly rational way, but also that when facing an emergency, people in a crowd are more likely to cooperate than panic.
Paradoxically, it is often actions such as kettling that lead to violence breaking out. Often, the best thing authorities can do is leave a crowd to its own devices."

No comments:

Post a Comment