Of course, intuition is also subject to certain biases, explains Prof. Usher, and leads to more risks -- risks that people are willing to take. That was shown when the researchers engaged participants in tests that measured their risk-taking tendencies, and were surprised to discover that the majority of the participants didn't play it safe. When faced with a choice between two sets of numbers with the same average, one with a narrow distribution, such as 45 and 55, and another with a broad distribution, such as 70 and 30, people were swayed by the large numbers and took a chance on the broadly distributed numbers rather than making the "safe" choice.I'd bet the broad distribution isn't the cause. More likely this difference comes from the logarithmic nature of our senses. Usher apparently used the arithmetic mean to create ranges that supposedly had the same 'center'. A range of [45,55] has an arithmetic mean of 50, and [30,70] also averages to 50. But our senses don't use sums and differences. The numerical sense (like all others) works on proportions and percentages. The sensory comparator would be looking at 55/45 versus 70/30, not the sums or differences. 70/30 is about twice as large as 55/45, so 70/30 would be seen as the higher value.
Labels: Blinded by Stats
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.