June 01, 2005

Our Experience Colors Reality

As my children grow older we are going to have many discussions about reality and perception. I am not the first person to mention that perception and reality often diverge and that sometimes the sad truth is that perception is more important than reality.

People often act illogically, that is they act/react based upon what they think they know even though this does not always mirror the reality. There have been numerous scientific studies that document this. For some interesting reading you can do a search on gambling habits. The casinos learned a long time ago how to construct games that attract many players even though the odds of winning are very poor, such as roulette or the slots.

And even though many gamblers know that their chances of winning are slim they still persist in playing these games. It is one thing to do it for fun with full knowledge that you are probably going to lose. It is quite another to try to convince yourself that you are going to win. There are a lot of reasons why people do this and not all of them are all that sophisticated.

We often find that people use their experience to define their reality and from a simplistic standpoint there is nothing wrong with that. However the problem lies in that this experience is often derived from a very small sample and that often times is statistically insignificant.

So what I want to teach my children is to spend some time analyzing the situation so that they can try and make decisions that are not based upon stereotypes or poor data, but factual evidence. I don't want it to sound like I am trying to make them into emotionless Vulcans.

On the contrary, I want them to be thinking, feeling people. But I don't want them to fall prey to the problems that can be created by operating solely on touch and feel. There may be some truth to stereotypes and there may be some value to saying that every Jew you know loves Chanukah. But that does not prevent the possibility of their being people who do not fall into those categories.

I took exception with DovBear about this in a post that he wrote today because I think that he missed the mark.

You see, the left is all about outcomes. They're pragmatic. If shrinking government, for example, will help people, well then super, the left is for it. The right, on the other hand, doesn't really care about results. They care about dogma. "Taxes bad," they'll grunt, forheads furrowed,without ever paying attention to the consequences of lowering taxes or refunding a surplus. To the right-winger, lowering taxes is a good, in of itself, and damn the fallout. To the right-winger, results are an afterthought."

To me this is an argument based upon perception. Without some kind of support we have no way of verifying the truth of this. It sounds plausible and perhaps even probable but there is no source her to confirm it so I have to consider it to be false.Dov is a good guy and I often agree, but not today.


In any case that is all I have time for now. Perhaps I'll come work on this some more later.

P.S. Vince if you are reading this you gave me some food for thought, based upon this post. I may blog about it later.

5 comments:

Stacey said...

Not only is the argument based on perception, it is a flagrant overgeneralization.

Chandira said...

Who doesn't do that though? I do it all the time. It's a bad habit..

Chandira said...

PS, Jack, I think it's awesome that you're taching your kids to use intelligent discrimination and judgement, too many touchy-feely people don't!! Balance..

Michael said...

I perceive this to be a witty post. But do I see it through my left or my right eye?

Take Care
Michael

Jack's Shack said...

Balance is a tough thing to come by.