Friday, June 15, 2012

Walk of Life, Part 3

"Which is greater: the number of six-letter English words having n as their fifth letter or the number of six-letter English words ending in ing? Most people choose the group of words ending in ing. Why? Because words ending in ing are easier to think of than generic six-letter words having n as their fifth letter. But you don't have to survey the Oxford English Dictionary -- or even know how to count -- to prove that guess wrong: the group of six-letter words having n as their fifth letter includes all six-letter words ending in ing."

-- From The Drunkard's Walk by Leonard Mlodinow, Pantheon Books, New York, 2008, pg. 28

[In an experiment that provided jurists with similar incriminating and exonerating evidence in pallid and vivid forms], "when the jurors were asked to produce guilt/innocence ratings, the side with the more vivid presentation of the evidence always prevailed, and the effect was enhanced when there was a forty-eight-hour delay before rendering the verdict (presumably because the recall gap was even greater).

By distorting our view of the past, the availability bias complicates any attempt to make sense of it."

-- From The Drunkard's Walk by Leonard Mlodinow, Pantheon Books, New York, 2008, pg. 29

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