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On Human Nature III

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In many cases, when we see the results of a study or hear an adage, we have a tendency to connect the dots and say to ourselves (and frequently others as well) "I knew it all along" or "that's obvious." However, people actually most often did not know it all along. I will take a common adage "birds of a feather flock together" and it's opposite, also an adage "opposites attract". Statistically speaking there are three options: one is true or both happen in equal proportions. However, when we think we see an example of one we tend to think it is obvious, likewise for the other. As it turns out birds of a feather have a far greater statistical likelihood, and opposites do not attract. Studies were done, replicated and reviewed where groups were given one adage, and another group the opposite adage. Each group was told their adage was true. In both cases the vast majority of each group thought it was obvious, despite one group unknowingly having a false adage. Other studies show that people have a very difficult time determining which adage may be true when offered both but not told which one is false. This hindsight-bias contributes greatly to our general trend of overconfidence. So when you see the results of a study that seems to be a 10 on the no-shit-scale, it really may not be as obvious in reality. We would do well to not make assumptions that because we "are generally right all along", that we are likely to be right about other untested things.
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